The problem with Game 7s is that they’re under no obligation to be as exciting as the first six games of the series. Like the Super Bowl, the magnitude of importance usually outshadows the actual quality of the game by leaps and bounds.
Unfortunately, unlike the Super Bowl, NBA Game 7s aren’t played on neutral courts, so they’re often formulaic. Ask one question: Is the best team playing at home? If so, automatic game over, and fans may as well find something more exciting to do with their two hours, like
a marathon tantric sex session with that hot blonde at work video games.
Exhibit 4,523 of this formula: today’s epic stomping delivered by the Lakers against the visiting Rockets. The Lakers rode energetic performances from Pau Gasol (21 points, 18 rebounds, one increasingly hobolike beard) and Trevor Ariza (single-handedly outscored the Rockets for the first 10 minutes of the game) to jump out to a 20-point lead at the break. They upped the advantage to 31 points late in the fourth quarter before the Rockets scored the last 12 points of the game, mostly against a couple Laker Girls, a traffic cone, a “My Little Pony” doll, and D.J. Mbenga.
For Houston, it’s now abundantly clear that they, in fact, did miss Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming in the last half of the series. Ron Artest is a solid player, but he can’t carry a team by himself; his stone cold shooting performance today may as well have been a death warrant for the Rockets.
So now, it’s the Lakers and the improbable Denver Nuggets, who saved their year by trading Allen Iverson for Chauncey Billups in the middle of the season. Analysts speculated during Game 7 that the Rockets may have exposed flaws in the Lakers’ game, but it seems pretty obvious that their main flaw is just focus. Overall, the Lakers match up very well with the Nuggets (especially if Kobe defends Billups), and this series might be over in 5 or 6 games.
Or the Nuggets may win it all too. They’d just better hope it doesn’t come down to a Game 7 in Los Angeles; we all already know how that’d end.