Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Well, Ken Hitchcock was right. Yet another double OT affair. Tim Panaccio reports on the "one that got away" last night, as the Flyers failed to take advantage of closing out their series against Toronto, setting up their first Game 7 since losing to the Devils back in 2000. The Flyers have a 5-5 record in such scenarios, they'll either go above or below .500 pending the results of tonight's Game 7. Rich Hofmann laments the ridiculous scheduling that led to the back-to-back situation between games 6 and 7, for the first time in over half a century. It especially doesn't help that Game 6 went into 2OT, meaning there's less than a 20-hour turnaround between games. Hofmann also writes how this is deja vu all over again for the Leafs. Ray Parrillo talks about some of the miraculous saves by Cechmanek, including a beautiful spin-o-rama kick save. You could watch the NHL playoffs for a decade and not see a play like that. Phil Sheridan says there's nothing quite like sudden-death OT in the NHL playoffs. Speaking of extra sessions, there's been 7 OT sessions in this series, meaning these teams have already played the equivalent of over 9 games. By the time this series is done, they'll have played the equivalent of over 10 (maybe more?) The Ottawa Senators meanwhile are sipping taquila awaiting the survivor.

Ashley McGeachy Fox has Larry Brown still gushing over AI's 55 point outburst. "For me, I'm sitting there watching this little kid go off.... That was truly one of the great performances you'll ever see." Agreed. Bill Lyon is still waxing poetic over the performance, adding this cautionary note: "Even the best soloists are better when supported by a chorus." John Smallwood says "Van Horn knows he got his mulligan," so he better show up to play for the rest of this series. Phil Jasner has a bunch of average quotes from yesterday's practice session. Fox also cites a somewhat misleading statistic that since 1984, the winner of Game 1 of a first round series has advanced 124 out of 144 series. What she doesn't mention is that all those statistics applied to 5-game series. In best-of-seven series, the winner of Game 1 wins around 80% of the time, which doesn't bode well for the teams that lost over the weekend. And while it may only be a few percentage points difference between those stats, my point is that at some point in the future, some stats are going to be tossed about out (meaning the old ones will fall by the wayside) such as, "since 2003, when the first round was expanded to 7 games..." Marc Narducci says Baron Davis wore slippers to yesterday's practice, and he wasn't making a fashion statement either.

Ralph Wiley talks about the "urban legend" that is AI. "Allen Iverson's will alone is very heroic. You can say it isn't, that he isn't anything but trouble, you can O'Reilly him, shout him down, try to kill him off by saying, in a fair and balanced way, that he is undeserving, and not the Answer." You know, like if you're a member of the Howard Eskin fan club. Speaking of which, Eskin, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, pronounced yesterday "AI Day" on his afternoon WIP show. As is his style, he ridiculed callers who were "taking personally" his round-about criticism of Iverson by saying he'd rather have Kobe, Duncan, or McGrady, just because they're all taller and better defenders. When one caller finally called him on the carpet by saying height does not a defender make, Eskin quickly pushed the "hangup" button. I guess that got a little too "personal", how Howard? Speaking of Eskin, a scene transpired after Game 1 that I thought funny, just because I was there. Right after the game, he attempted to run down the hallway to the Sixers lockerroom right after the game (before reporters are allowed in). He was quickly stopped by security, who escorted him back to the court. He then proceeded to get into a heated discussion with the First Union Center's security chief. It might not be a big deal, but I just found the whole incident hilarious. To borrow one Eskin's own phrases, "I'm just reporting the facts, just trying to give you folks some inside info!"

Peter Vecsey continues to demonstrate sour grapes over his ex-employers TNT and NBC, as he recaps the weekend action. He did get a good one-liner in: "The Bucks are demanding the league office force the Nets to play Dikembe Mutombo more than marginal minutes." Bill Simmons offers his (shocking) playoff predictions. I say shocking because he has the Kings beating the Sixers in the Finals in 6. I'm trying to figure out which is more surprising, the fact that the Sixers would even be there, or that they would somehow manage to win 2 games.

Monday, April 21, 2003

What can you say? AI is the man. Franchise, and career playoff high 55 points. Too bad nobody else showed up for the game offensively. I had intended to do a full game story, but for personal reasons, was not able to. The game was definitely worth the price of admission, and continued my streak of 25 straight playoff appearances at the First Union Center. Sadly, that streak will be coming to an end this Wednesday...

Ashley McGeachy Fox has the game story. The always fun-to-read Bill Lyon says the Hornets only hope was divine intervention. Perhaps it was just a concidence that ABC was broadcasting "The Ten Commandments" earlier in the night. Stephen A. Smith has Paul Silas exclaiming "That little kid is something special, boy!" Phil Jasner gets Iverson's reaction to Silas' decision not to double-team him: "Good. That's perfect." John Smallwood was impressed too. He quotes AI saying, "I got in one of those rhythms where the basket looks like an ocean, and I was just throwing rocks in it." Dick Jerardi attempted to speak to David "I don't have a lot to say" Wesley and Stacey "I don't want to talk" Augmon. Rich Hofmann is a little concerned that Coleman, Van Horn, and Thomas combined for 11 points. Paging Dr. Van Horn. Please report to the First Union Center.

In out of town reporting, John Reid has trip-artist Baron Davis lamenting that his "knee is [expletive deleted] up tonight."

Tim Panaccio reports with the bad news that Eric Desjardins will miss the next 2 to 4 weeks because of a broken foot. Game 6 of the series will be on CSN locally and ESPN2 nationally at 7.