MIAMI, FL - MAY 03: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat reacts to a shot during Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2011 NBA Playoffs against the Boston Celtics at American Airlines Arena on May 3, 2011 in Miami, Florida. 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 Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

NBA Playoffs 2011 Memes: LeBron James' Statement, Celtics Get Old, Derrick Rose Shows Personality

In Wednesday's edition: LeBron James silences a tiny group of dumb sportswriters, the Celtics age 25 years in a night, Derrick Rose shows some personality and Kendrick Perkins' intangibles (for lack of a better word) spur the Thunder.

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Celtics Vs. Heat: LeBron James Swats Away MVP Voting Idiocy

The Miami Heat's Game 2 victory over the Boston Celtics might as well have been alternatively called "LeBron James' revenge." Thirty-five points, seven rebounds and an emphatic slam dunk on a rebound sent a message that he's as good as ever.

It's impossible to figure out for sure if anything special was motivating LeBron on this night, other than the prospect of taking a 2-0 lead on the Celtics. Sportswriters love to speculate on these things, because we love to create narratives and try to figure out a reason for why a great player plays greater than even he usually plays. We end up with a bunch of after-the-fact explanations, often supported by a player publicly, but all of which rely on the performance actually rolling out the way it does before we can judge.

All this is to say that suggesting LeBron was especially motivated because nine sportswriters left him off their MVP ballots is relying on a stretch of logic. That said, it's certainly possible that LeBron was extra salty about it. There's really no explanation for those nine sportswriters, other than an agenda against either "The Decision" or the not-winning-70-games thing. (And yes, it's an agenda, whether it comes from statheads, "fanboys" or people around the league. Remember: many scouts and personnel people feel on some level that LeBron and the Heat violated the sanctity of the league this summer. That's going to factor into their talent evaluation skills as much as any of our biases do).

Anyway, as much as I personally loathe LeBron, it's hard to deny that he's one of the greatest players in the league. Tuesday night was one where I sat down and couldn't help but admire his talent. I hope more people can do the same without thinking of whether he was trying to make a statement to nine sportswriters.


Celtics Vs. Heat: Boston Ages 25 Years In Defeat

Now that the Boston Celtics are down 2-0 to the Miami Heat, the obvious questions have begun to surface. In case you didn't know, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are old in NBA years. Shocking, right? So it only stands to reason that if they are struggling while also being old, then perhaps the Celtics as a team are too old.

Don't believe me. Take it from Ken Berger of CBS Sports, who made the fairly obvious parallel between the Celtics and the late-80s Pistons that saw their dynasty crumble at the hands of the younger, more talented Chicago Bulls.

The Celtics, who've escorted James and Dwyane Wade out of the playoffs, are now fighting for their playoff lives against both of them. The first two games were not a fair fight. All the guile and experience in the world was no match for these facts of basketball life: People get old. Someone's always coming to take what you have.

These are the stark rules of survival in the NBA. Michael Jordan's Bulls finally caught the Pistons, age finally caught Jordan, and the carousel keeps spinning until those who can't hold on any more are thrown off.

It's a tempting comparison. If you had to find one historical parallel to the Unbuntu Celtics, it would be the Pistons.

But c'mon, let's hold off writing the eulogies for now. Boston still has home games to rely on, and while they lost both games in Miami, they were right there until seemingly uncharacteristic collapses down the stretch. They are still fully capable of winning Games 3 and 4, then stealing either Game 5 or 7 in Miami. Don't underestimate the heart of a champion, and all that.

Now, if they lose Game 3? Then, I expect all those eulogies to resurface.


Derrick Rose Wins NBA MVP, Shows Some Personality While Doing So

I know the Bulls didn't play last night, but I have to comment on the news that Derrick Rose won the 2011 Most Valuable Player award in a landslide. I could spent a lot of time ranting about how Rose won the award so decisively, even though the discussion all winter was so divisive and heated. But since the discussion was, in fact, divisive and heated, I'd prefer to avoid it.

Instead, let's focus on the most powerful moment of the press conference: when Rose thanked his mother (it's near the end).

As someone who has tried to get the "Derrick Rose Clutch Bot" meme going, I have to admit that it was kind of cool to see him tear up like that. It was one of those moments where you remember that it's hard to root against Derrick Rose, the person. It's not his fault that the idea of him as the shoo-in MVP of the league took hold way too quickly for anyone to think about their vote critically. It's not his fault that the whole "stats vs. eyes" strawman debate raged all winter. He just came in and played his heart out, all while saying all the right things and leading his team to a regular season few expected them to have.

Now that he is the MVP, I say let's put down the swords and appreciate that.


Grizzlies Vs. Thunder: Kendrick Perkins Spurs Oklahoma City, Danny Ainge Grimaces

I say "intangibles" with Kendrick Perkins because I'm not really sure how else to describe the impact of a team meeting the big man ordered before the Thunder's must-win Game 2 against the Grizzlies Tuesday night. Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports has that story.

After watching the Memphis Grizzlies batter his Oklahoma City Thunder in the opener of the teams' second-round series, Kendrick Perkins(notes) knew something needed to change. So he encouragedKevin Durant(notes) to gather the team together ... and watch the game again.

Durant took Perkins' suggestion and arranged for a players-only dinner at his house on Monday night. The team dined on a Thanksgiving-worthy spread prepared by Durant's personal chef and watched every minute of OKC's disheartening loss to the Grizzlies. The players stopped the video at times to discuss specific breakdowns. By the end of the evening, they were in agreement on what needed to be done to improve.

Oklahoma City bounced back with a much, much better defensive effort in a 102-91 win that really wasn't that close. The two biggest improvements came in areas where you could argue Perkins' team meeting had an effect. One was the defensive activity of the big men, who stifled Zach Randolph and lorded over the paint. Their activity was inspiring to everyone else and led to the win. The other big improvement was from the bench, as Eric Maynor and James Harden both had big games. A little reminder for them to focus certainly played a big role.

Meanwhile, in Boston, where Perkins used to hone his craft, Danny Ainge looks thrilled.


(via @jose3030)


Grizzlies Vs. Thunder: Zach Randolph Finally Has A Bad Game

Just as soon as we thought Zach Randolph could do no wrong, he submitted a really bad performance in the Grizzlies' loss to the Thunder. He shot just 2-13, and only got to 15 points because he drew a lot of fouls. The painted area, which has been Randolph's domain for the last seven playoff games, belonged to Oklahoma City.

So what gives? As it turns out, sometimes, Randolph's lack of size can be a problem. He had five shot attempts at the rim on Tuesday ... and he missed all five. It's hard to bash Randolph for that, because the Thunder defense is what really changed from Game 1 to Game 2. But it's also a reminder that we have to be careful crowning our new heroes. They can have bad games too, and they can run into a team that has the right mix to stop them.

I guess we'll find out whether Game 2 was an example of the former or the latter. 

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