NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 24: Head coach Mike D'Antoni of the New York Knicks reacts towards referee referee Mike Callahan #24 against the Boston Celtics in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 24, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

NBA Playoffs 2011 Memes: Knicks Eliminated, Brandon Roy And Chris Paul Capture Our Hearts

In this edition of the NBA Playoff memes: the Knicks whine their way to elimination, Brandon Roy and Chris Paul capture our hearts, the Heat can't close and Zach Randolph pushes the Grizzlies to the brink of a major upset.

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Celtics Vs. Knicks: New York Is Eliminated, And Excuses Begin

It was nice knowing you, New York Knicks. After playing two incredibly competitive games in Boston, the Knicks completely rolled over against the Celtics in New York, getting blown out in Game 3 and essentially getting blown out in Game 4 too. The Madison Square Garden crowd was supposed to energize the Knicks; instead, the Knicks de-energized the crowd.

Now, anytime the Knicks fall in the playoffs, there will be plenty of people coming out to mock them. This is especially true when they employ Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire on the same team. One arguably held the league hostage with a season-long trade demand, the other has always been put down for being horrible on defense (valid) and riding Steve Nash's coattails (very invalid). But this time, those two will mostly avoid criticism because their head coach decided to say this:

D'Antoni on Rondo: "I'd like to see him play on Minnesota and see how he does. ... They've got three Hall of Famers out there."    

The line led to the day's ultimate Twitter meme, and with good reason. Andy covered this well on Sunday, but it bears mentioning: there's a time and place to begin the discussion over whether Rondo's development was aided by three Hall of Famers. Immediately prior to your team's elimination game, when the dude has been shredding what you call your "point guards" all series, is not that time. D'Antoni may catch too much grief for having a shallow roster and two superstars who are an awkward fit at best, but he deserves every amount of ridicule he received for that line.

In the end, the Knicks are gone, and they went out in typical Knicks fashion. Save for some inspired play by Anthony Carter, their performance over the weekend, even given all their injuries, was pretty shameful. And really, the only thing Carter's performance was good for was one of the worst Mark Jackson puns anyone's ever heard ("turn up the AC!").

(Speaking of Jackson: does anyone else imagine Jackson and D'Antoni meeting on a plane and deciding to switch jobs, like in that Kobe Bryant Turkish Airlines commercial? We'll then see D'Antoni scrambling to come up with broadcast catchphrases, while Jackson gets into a fight with Anthony while his Knicks keep losing. Then, when it's all done, the two will agree not to question each other, and Jackson's not-so-secret public lobbying for D'Antoni's job on air will stop).


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Mavericks Vs. Blazers: Brandon Roy, City Of Portland Renew Their Vows

What we witnessed in Portland on Saturday night was pretty special. Down 23 to the Mavericks and facing the daunting task of a 3-1 deficit, the Blazers turned to former superstar Brandon Roy. Roy, of course, rescued them with basket after basket, punctuating his turn-back-the-clock performance with a lefty layup to give the Blazers the incredible comeback win.

On it's own, that's special. When you throw in the fact that Roy was crying because of his inability to contribute enough to even get off the bench two games ago, it becomes the feel-good playoff story of the last several years. It was the kind of performance that really speaks for itself, and there's really not much more for me to add. If you missed it, you better watch it again here.


The way Roy is still beloved in Portland intrigues me. How many other cities would embrace a professional athlete that has a huge contract the team gave him despite knowing the injury risk, derailed his team's rise with said injuries, made said injuries worse by unnecessarily rushing back when he wasn't healthy, openly complained about a free agent signing, asked his coach to bench said player and complained about not playing despite being wildly ineffective. In most cities, that guy would get crucified. Take it from a Wizards fan who saw how divisive Gilbert Arenas was while doing many of those things himself.

But in Portland, that guy is beloved, because the whole city understands how difficult the last few years have been for him. Those angry quotes are correctly identified as a sign of frustration that, for all the work he put in to get to this point, his body is betraying him. There's a level of empathy that's so rare in professional sports, which is yet another reason why Portland fans are the best in the league. If you don't think their support made a difference with Roy's performance, just watch this video and tell me otherwise.


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Lakers Vs. Hornets: Chris Paul Scowls, Then Dominates

There really should be no doubt that Chris Paul is the best point guard in the NBA at this point. Well, at least that's the revisionist opinion many (not all, because some realized this) are pontificating following Paul's triple-double performance in the Hornets' Game 4 win over the Lakers.

Why all the Paul love? Maybe it's because he's a throwback to how point guards used to play, instead of how they currently just slash and jump into people to draw fouls. Maybe it's because he's taking on the Lakers, the league's title favorite and two-time defending champion, with a group of teammates that many non-NBA fans would be hard-pressed to recognize. Maybe it's because he is so small and yet so dominant. Nevertheless, we've learned very clearly that Paul still has plenty left in the tank.

The thing that was so remarkable about Paul's performance in Game 4 is that it wasn't a typical Paul game. He got double-digit rebounds. He didn't seem natural. No, instead, this was Paul stepping out of his usual element to dominate. At the Hive put it best:

Chris Paul's Game 4 was special not because he floated around the floor, untrackable by any defender the opponent could offer. We've seen that. Rather, Chris Paul was imminently guardable last night. It was plainly evident not only during the first half, but also during his exceptional second half. On a trap on the right sideline, he lost the ball out of bounds, off himself. On a double in the left corner, he threw the ball into the hands of two Lakers. Faced with a rotating L.A. defense in the first quarter, he threw the ball directly to Ron Artest for a fastbreak. With help lurking, even the aged Derek Fisher played a few flawless defensive possessions on Paul. 

CP3 has surely been more perfect. But on this night, it was his emphatic triumph over an unambiguous fallibility that set his performance apart from all the rest.

If this were Derrick Rose, we'd be talking about how Paul "willed" his team to victory. I can't think of too many performances this year where the term fits better.

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Heat Vs. 76ers: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade Allow 'Miami Can't Close' Meme To Resurface

The Miami Heat should have closed out the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 4 on Sunday. They followed the script a heavy favorite should, absorbing the underdog’s last shot on their home floor, turning up the screws defensively and closing them out down the stretch. Wait, nevermind.

Instead, it was Philadelphia that somehow did enough to win late. The Heat led by six points with a minute and a half remaining, but a three by Jrue Holiay and another three by Lou Williams put the 76ers in the lead with eight seconds left. The Heat went to LeBron James down the stretch, and he bulled his way into the lane trying to draw the foul. There was no call, and Miami lost another close game.

There are two obvious memes that come out of this, and both are stupid. The first: why LeBron and not Dwyane Wade on that final possession? Isn't Wade teh clozer? Michael Wilbon, now on Twitter, was one of the first to throw his name into the ring here.

I do not understand why Dwyane Wade isn't the No. 1 option for Miami at the end of tight games. First playoff last shot same as reg season.less than a minute ago via Twitter for BlackBerry® Favorite Retweet Reply

 

Thankfully, we have some smart people covering this Heat team that can add more context. The truth is that Miami lost because everyone on the team stopped doing the right thing in crunch time. Wade had bungled the two previous possessions, so why not go to LeBron at the end. For more on this, Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN provides the must-read of the playoffs.

The second stupid meme? The Heat not closing out in four games showes a lack of a killer instinct. Newsflash, everyone: this happens all the time. Just last season, the Celtics got beat in Game 4 against the Heat in the first round after going up 3-0. Did it matter? No, not really. Credit the 76ers for coming out inspired. Don’t bash the Heat unless you’re also prepared to bash the 2010 Celtics.

To sum it up: the Heat have issues in crunch-time beyond just LeBron James, and the loss in Game 4 will do nothing to make-or-break their postseason success. It's not as fun this way, but it's more accurate.

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Spurs Vs. Grizzlies: Zach Randolph Provides Microcosm Of Memphis' Rise

The Memphis Grizzlies beat the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday to take a 2-1 series lead because Zach Randolph decided to make a three-pointer. It made no sense, and we've covered how it made no sense extensively. 

But in a way, it's also fitting. We've talked before about how this Grizzlies team was assembled and how it makes absolutely no sense. Somehow, though, it all worked out, and I've yet to figure out how and why. Could it be that Chris Wallace and Michael Heisley actually know what they're doing? Maybe, but I'm not ready to fully accept that yet, not after they drafted Hasheem Thabeet No. 2 overall, gave Mike Conley $40 million when nobody was lining up to do that, gave Rudy Gay a max contract only to find out they play better without him and handed Randolph $71 million right before a lockout.

Individually, none of that makes sense. Collectively - well, they found a way, right? Just like Randolph's shot was a poor decision that worked out, so to has Memphis' rise coincided with poor decisions that have worked out. Hell, they even tanked the final two games of the season just to play the battle-tested Spurs! And it's working! Up 2-1, with home-court advantage and against a Spurs team that is expending so much energy just to keep up, Memphis is in great position to win the series. Talk about the ends justifying the means.

Honorable mention: Suddenly the Nuggets need Carmelo Anthony again ... the Hibachi starts cooking, then is ignored ... the Pacers nearly blow it again ... Dallas is doomed to infinity years of choking. 

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