Too much will be made of J.R. Smith's venture through the circle on the Gasol vs. Billups jump ball late in Game Two. Was it a violation? Of course. Did the Lakers get a ton of calls throughout the game (and Game One)? Ohhhhhhh, you bet your ass.
Some seem to think that David Stern and the NBA, in their not-so-subtle way, want to see Kobe vs. LeBron in The Finals. We know where Nike stands. But what about everyone else?
Leaving the Game Two recaps and analysis to other, more capable blogs, let's look (wishfully) ahead at why Nuggets-Cavs is more compelling than Lakers-Cavs (assuming, of course, Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals was an abberation).
1. Melo vs. LeBron - Why does everyone assume Kobe and LeBron would go head-to-head? Kobe is an aging superstar quickly losing his legs. Sure, he explodes to the hoop for dunks every now and then, but those are few and far between. A capable defender - Shane Battier, or a vastly improving Melo - can force him into a fairly deadly jump shooter. Kobe on LeBron is a gnat on a semi windshield. Melo has shown that he has the tenacity, temerity, quickness and strength to guard the all-around best player in the game. Or, you know, at least try.
It would also make for endless columns about which 2003 top draft pick is going to join D-Wade in the VIP Champions club behind the velvet ropes. And considering the effort the Lakers put forth in last year's Finals, a young, hungry club making their first Finals appearance against a young, hungry club making just their second would be huge.
2. Nene vs. Sideshow Bob - Ok, not quite as compelling as 1. But two big Brazilians with interesting hair going toe-to-toe? One of them with a vast array of low-post moves, the other with a vast array of low-post flops? Just the promise of any hot Brazilian chicks in the stands is good enough. But this matchup is a microcosm of...
3. The Irrestible Force vs. The Immovable Object - The Nuggets may not have had the "best" offense in the league this year, but it's fairly obvious that they have the most balanced attack, and are certainly the most explosive team left in the playoffs. The Cavs were basically one of the top two defensive teams in the league this year. They say defense wins championships. Well, wouldn't this be a fascinating and likely entertaining case study?
4. Denver vs. Cleveland (with apologies to Toby) - The Drive. The Fumble. Two things here: A) Doesn't matter if it was a different sport. B) Cleveland has NOT forgotten. Trust me on this. Never has, never will. Those two AFC Championships, in back-to-back years, were soul-crushing. You think fans in Cleveland - not to mention, oh, EVERYFUCKINGBODY WHO CAN TYPE OR SPEAK INTO A MICROPHONE - will fail to bring this up all the time? And that it wouldn't add an extra level of pizazz?
Am I biased? Of course. But I dare any neutral fan to give me any other matchups, besides the tired Kobe-LeBron hype-a-palooza, with as much flavor as the one I really, really, really hope happens.