Let's play to 11
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Get a load of this. We could have FIVE Game Sevens this weekend in the NBA. According to ESPN's Marc Stein (who, by all accounts, has never been wrong), the most Game Sevens we've ever seen in a single round is three.

But frankly, isn't it all a little bit exhausting? Three weeks to get through one round of basketball ... does David Stern want the playoffs to last forever?

As usual, I have a solution (I can't wait 'till I'm commissioner in ten years).

Wave goodbye to those 12-minute quarters. We're going back to the basics. Here are the new rules.

- Five on five

- Shoot for ball

- Anything inside the three-point line counts for one point. Threes count as two.

- Make it, take it

- Call your own fouls

- Shirts vs. Skins

- First team to 11 wins

- You have to win by two

I can't even comprehend how awesome this would be. And it would save the league a ton of time and money. You wouldn't have to worry about paying officials and if you got a big enough gym, you could probably have four or five games going on at the same time.

And most importantly, instead of wasting three days in between games, the players could grab a drink from the water fountain, take a five-minute breather and then start up the next game. At that rate, you could plow through a seven-game series in less than two hours.

Genius, I know. Of course, TV ratings will prevent this from ever taking place.

But, if by some miracle the NBA playoffs do morph into a pickup style street ball tournament in the near future, this is what it could look like.

1. Carmelo Anthony as The Ball Hog: Melo is the last guy you want on your team in a pickup game. In Anthony's universe, you and your teammates are just obstacles in his quest to score as many points as humanly possible. If by some inexplicable act of God, you do end up with the ball, cherish that moment. It could be the last time you touch it all game. And while you're enjoying said moment, Carmelo's probably going to be screaming at you to give it back to him.

2. Stephen Curry as The Long Range Wizard: The silent killer. Curry is that guy at the gym who practices all by himself before reluctantly agreeing to play in your game. He doesn't get excited after he drills his fourth shot in a row. He just keeps going about his business. After he wins the game, you have the strange urge to ask him for his autograph.

3. Luol Deng as The Guy Who Never Needs a Water Break: I can only tolerate two games in a row before I'm totally exhausted. That's not the case with Deng. The term "break" just isn't in his vocabulary. He's led the NBA in minutes per game each of the last two seasons. Super hero or crazy person? We'll never know.

4. Monta Ellis as The Gunner: Ellis loves shooting the basketball. If there is a ball and there is a hoop anywhere in his peripheral vision, you better believe Ellis is chucking that thing up like his life depended on it. Is there such a thing as rehab for guys who shoot too much? I'm not sure the 12-step program's gonna be enough for this guy.

5. Kevin Garnett as The Sweaty Dude: In every five on five game, there is one guy you ABSOLUTELY do not want to cover. It's not because he's too good. It's because the game hasn't started yet and he's already sweating through his shirt. Perhaps that's how Garnett has managed 25,274 points in 18 NBA seasons.

6. Blake Griffin as The Showoff: You know the type of guy I'm talking about. He shows up to a pickup game in brand new Nikes and a stitched up Michael Jordan jersey from the 1980s. It's tough to tell, but it looks like MJ might have signed it himself. This player makes every play more complicated by trying to mix in a behind the back pass or a between-the-legs layup. Most of the time, he checks his iPhone for texts instead of getting back on defense. Hopefully, you guys are playing indoors because those sneakers are going to get ruined if it starts raining.

7. James Harden as The Warrior: On a nightly basis, no player in the league takes as much punishment as Houston's go-to-scorer. Harden brings most of it on himself. He knows he's going to get clobbered when he goes to the basket. He just doesn't care. But unlike Michael Vick, arguably the most fearless player in the NFL, Harden always gets up at the end of the play. And then he usually knocks down two free throws. That's guts.

8. Dwight Howard as The Hot Head: Howard, the most out of control hoopster in the NBA not named DeMarcus Cousins (Cousins is probably burning a small village as we speak), is about as unpredictable as Mike Tyson's Twitter timeline. One minute he'll be boosting team morale with a Stan Van Gundy impression. The next he'll be throwing elbows (Metta World Peace coached him on the proper technique) and getting in everyone's face for no apparent reason. Does anybody know how much it costs to get a private session with Dr. Phil? You're going to need one after playing with Dwight.

9. Jason Kidd as The Veteran: Ever go to the rec center and there's a bunch of 20-year-olds playing with one random 40-year-old? Obviously, Kidd is the random 40-something I'm referring to. He won't beat you with his athleticism, but he doesn't have to. That's because he's way smarter than you and he's got a mid-range game like you wouldn't believe. Not bad for a guy who was nine when E.T. came out.

10. Joakim Noah as Mr. Hustle: This is typically my role whenever I get into a pickup game. Just like Noah, I dive for every loose ball and compete for every rebound. I never give away an inch on defense. My intensity is unrivaled. Of course, Noah has the luxury of being 6-foot-11, while I'm closer to Nate Robinson's size. Speaking of Robinson ...

11. Nate Robinson as The Little Guy: In an NBA pickup game, Super Nate probably isn't going to be anyone's first pick ... but he should be. Who cares if he's barely tall enough to ride the roller coaster at Six Flags? This dude can ball. Chappelle Show fanatics remember what happened to Charlie Murphy when he underestimated Prince's short stature: he lost ... and then Prince made him pancakes.

12. Jason Terry as The Trash Talker: Every pickup game has a trash talker. That's not necessarily a bad thing. You just have to be able to back it up. Terry didn't do that during the regular season, but now he has the Celtics two games away from the biggest comeback in NBA playoff history. The Knicks will have a chance to press the mute button on him in Game 6.

If the NFL can have a Super Bowl in the snow, why can't the NBA Finals be decided in someone's backyard?




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Jesse Pantuosco at jpantuosco@sportsnetwork.com.

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