1. Hard Fouls. They have a place in the playoffs. Lay-ups are unacceptable. And the paint is to be protected. I remember watching John Starks come charging down the court to catch Chicago Bulls forward Scottie Pippen as he coasted towards the goal for what he thought was going to be an easy bucket. Starks, not giving up on the play as is the norm today, caught Pippen and clotheslined him rather than give up a free two. The demonstrative, diminutive and stuttering fan favorite was given a technical foul and Pippen thought twice about going to the hoop. That is playoff basketball. Lay-ups are unacceptable. And the paint is to be protected. Washington Wizards big man Brendan Haywood put a hard foul on Lebron and the world almost went off its orbit in the third quarter. As Lebron flew towards the hoop Haywood flung himself into LBJ's path, knocking him several feet off course. He landed in a heap beneath the hoop but popped up in a flash ready to fight or shoot free throws. He shot free throws.
2. Scott Skiles. The former Bulls coach and NBA point guard signed a four-year deal to take over the reins as head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks. Skiles led the Bulls to the playoffs three straight time and then oversaw the early stages of their 2007-2008 implosion before being removed right in time for Christmas by Bulls GM John Paxson. Skiles is a hard-nosed disciplinarian who, though a former player, is not considered a "players' coach." This is one less option for the Knicks opening.
3. Tracy McGrady. Is he sympathetic? Or pathetic? Is he Vince Carter? Or is he Kevin Garnett? What sort of fire burns behind those sleepy eyes of T-Mac's? After watching him do everything he possibly could through three quarters last night against the Jazz I have to say that he is sympathetic and he is far more Garnett than Carter. He wants it. He brings it. McGrady may have never won a playoff series but he was scoring, defending, rebounding and trying to rally his teammates last night. He just missed a triple double with 23 points, 9 assists and 13 rebounds but ran out of gas in the fourth quarter. He admitted it himself in the post-game press conference. It wasn't an excuse it was just a fact. Sort of like how it is a fact that McGrady is becoming a sympathetic figure.
4. Deron Williams. I know that I spend most of my time scribbling Chris Paul's stat line on my notebook and wondering what it would be like if the two of us were to hang out but his fellow draftee is having himself a pretty good playoff run too. Although he is battling a bruised buttock injury (and you know it can rough whenever you are battling your buttocks) he was again the catalyst for the Jazz, who took a commanding 2-0 lead over Houston.
5. The Earth. In case you missed it, today is Earth Day. This holiday observed on April 22, which follows suspiciously close to another earthy day in April (4/20), was first observed on April 22, 1970. The idea for a nationwide demonstration in support of Earth’s environment came from Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson.