OK, stretch run time in the NBA season.
It just happens to coincide with one of the greatest explosions of quotes to be incorporated into common conversation in recent history, courtesy of Charlie Sheen.
You see where I'm going here, right? Without further ado, A Sheen-style look at the current landscape of the NBA.
"The wildfires are spreading. The meek are scattering."
To the rest of the NBA teams out of the playoff picture doing everything in their power to not snatch a playoff spot, especially in the East. Charlotte traded away its best player and starting centre at the deadline, and despite sitting one game out of the eighth, they have lost four in a row and are fading fast. How sad is that race? Indiana enters this week in the eight spot, and they are eight games under .500. Out West, and the only legitimate outsider with a shot is Phoenix, who have battled back to over .500, and are breathing down Memphis' back. That means 12 teams have already gone into next season mode.
"I am battle-tested bayonets bro."
To the often-overlooked four-time champion San Antonio Spurs, who have shifted the offence from the great Tim Duncan into the hands of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. The result? An up-tempo system that sort of mirrors the fun-and-gun Suns of old, with a high screen and roll at the top of the key that instantly puts the defence in retreat mode. Then it's pick your poison: let Parker or Ginobili get to the hoop, watch Duncan score on the roll, or collapse and take your chances with a deadly array of three-point shooters. Different style, but with that same championship savvy. They are going to be tough to beat.
"Your perimeter's been breached. You got work to do bro."
To the Miami Heat, who have no problem smacking around the lesser lights in the league, but take their lumps on the regular against teams with winning records. While their defence looks tremendous against the Toronto's and Sacramento's of the world, when quality teams with the players to match Miami's athleticism start pinpointing weaknesses, they score at will. No better example than watching the Spurs crush Miami on Friday. Miami's gameplan was to stop penetration. In doing so, they let San Antonio hit a franchise record 17-of-28 from downtown. Derrick Rose also exploited their defence repeatedly Sunday.
"My success rate is 100 percent. Do the math."
To Dirk Nowitzki, probably the most needed star for his team in the NBA (close second to Chris Paul, but the Hornets still go on losing stretches when he's in the lineup). The Mavericks are not a team you would want to deal with ... if it were 2002. Their roster, while solid, reads mostly of a who's-who of stars back in the day. But Dirk is the equalizer. His potent scoring allows the other once-stars to slide into role player positions, letting them shine in optimal times (Jason Kidd and Jason Terry especially).
"You should have read the directions before you showed up at the party."
To the Orlando Magic, who, barring a buyout pickup, will enter the postseason with just one legitimate centre on the roster, knowing full well that size has been one of the determining factors in winning titles recently. Of course, it helps when your centre is all-world Dwight Howard, but what if he gets into foul trouble, or, has to sit out a game via suspension (like he did this week when he earned his 16th technical of the season)? The answer: Malik Allen and Daniel Orton. Kudos to Stan Van Gundy for keeping Orlando hungry and on the top end of the east playoff picture, but this can't end well if and when they run into a Chicago or Boston (or even Atlanta) come playoff time.
"Come on bro, I won best picture at 20."
To Kobe Bryant and all his recent 'I'm not concerned with how we're playing' chatter. He's sort of changed his tune from earlier in the year, when losing games they shouldn't lose wasn't acceptable. But Bryant does have good reason to brush off the regular season: they are the two-time defending champions. And only someone with the championship pedigree of a Bryant can get away with saying that. Besides, walking into San Antonio Sunday and putting a thumping on the team with the best record in the NBA - that hasn't lost at home since November - is a good way to let people know you're still the team to beat.
"Go back to the troll hole where you came from."
To the buyout rule in the NBA. Think back to a buyout that has actually helped a team. Exactly. My friend Tone said it best: if you're getting a guy to round out your eight or nine-man rotation, then it's good. Think Boston picking up Troy Murphy. But if you're Miami, who got Mike Bibby and were in the running for Murphy, you would have plucked two guys who weren't good enough to be a part of their original teams' plans or rotations - and would conceivably make up 40 per cent of your starting lineup. That's bad. To think that a buyout guy could offer more than solid backup minutes is asking too much. That being said, I've basically set the stage for Bibby to hit the game winning three in game 7 of the Finals against the Lakers. Great.
"Let's hook up and just bring fiery death."
To Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, who, unlike Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, mesh seamlessly as big-time scorers on the same roster. Talk about all their defensive deficiencies, but they offset it with a virtually complete offensive repertoire together. Anthony, along with Kevin Durant and Bryant, is arguably the most complete scorer in basketball. Forget running the right sets, with the ball in his hands come crunch time, he is the right option. A Chauncey Billups/Amar'e pick and roll isn't a bad second option. Nobody wants a piece of them in the postseason. Except for maybe the Cavaliers.
"I don't have burnout in my gear box."
To Derrick Rose, who has essentially been on overdrive for the Bulls all season long and still has them in play for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. This all happening while his two main running mates - Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer - have missed substantial time, leaving their all-star point guard as the lone constant in the Windy City. Throw in the fact that their two-guard situation is shaky at best, and it's hard to argue that Rose is not the MVP this season (down to the wire with LeBron). Rose's rise coupled with Tom Thibodeau's rugged defensive system have the Bulls in a place that they haven't been in since the Jordan days: a legit title contender.
"Surprise. That's what winners do."
To the Boston Celtics, who shook off a potential downer of a deal that saw them lose not just another teammate but, as KG, Pierce and Rondo all stated, a brother in Kendrick Perkins, and have shifted seamlessly into a new era. It's also possible, with the addition of Nenad Krstic, their offensive flow - arguably the smoothest of any team - got better with the latest additions. As well, they were able to plug a gaping hole on their bench with a gifted athlete in Jeff Green, whot would likely be a starter on any other team in the league. Surprising that they've been this good despite never operating at full clip. I guess that is what winners do.
"Get over here and enjoy the ride, bro. We're starting to win."
To the Philadelphia 76ers, who have rebounded from a 3-13 start and are right on the heels of the Knicks for the sixth seed in the East. Very rarely has a team succeeded built on two overrated superstars (Elton Brand and Andre Iguodala) an unproven point guard (Jrue Holliday), a centre by committee (Spencer Hawes and Mareese Speights) and a bench that consists of the underwhelming second overall pick of last year's draft (Evan Turner) and a pair of former first rounders (Thad Young and Lou Williams). So how has Doug Collins done it? By getting all those parts to play hard every game.
"It's a war. And it's on."
To Sam Presti, who realized that, despite the talent and breakthroughs that his Thunder have made, pulled the trigger and dealt his third leading scorer for some super-sized help in the form of centre Kendrick Perkins. He didn't stop there, adding centre Nazr Mohammed from the Bobcats. Last season, everyone raved of the Thunder's athleticism, which, at times, was breathtaking. But they were outsized by the Lakers, in the first round, and there was nothing they could do about it. Not now - they are playoff ready. Armed with some interior beef, and the stellar scoring duo of Durant and Westbrook, all they need is a third guy to step up and make this team complete. James Harden, the floor is yours.
"If people could just read behind the hieroglyphic."
To the fans and media who are writing off certain teams (especially Miami and San Antonio) because of what's transpired in the regular season. With never-before-seen-scenarios we've witnessed this year, this regular season has become virtually useless as a barometer of what's in store come playoff time because there are almost no certainties. The only certainty heading into the playoffs this season: the Lakers are the defending champions. Mike Breen said it best during a Heat broadcast: the Heat could lose their last 18 games and finish in eighth, and win the title and it would be considered a success. They could also win their last 18 games, secure the first seed and get bounced in the second round and it would be considered a disaster. Bottom line? We won't know anything until the playoffs are played.
"People can't figure me out. They can't process me. I don't expect them to."
To Ron Artest, who probably watched all the Sheen interviews and said to himself, "I hear you, bro."
Of course, Artest would probably tell you no one without tiger blood and adonis DNA would understand.
To David Stern, who will get the deal he wants, one way or another. It's inevitable.
On to this week's matchups:
Portland at Orlando (Monday, 7pm et)
Portland at Miami (Tuesday, 7:30pm et): "I'm bi-winning. I win here, and I win there."
Los Angeles Lakers at Miami (Thursday, 7pm et, TSN2): Another showdown of the NBA's premier megastars, Kobe & LeBron: "I am special, and I will never be one of you."
Denver at Phoenix (Thursday, 10:30pm et): Steve Nash and the Suns making a late playoff push? "Celebrate this movement."
Dallas at New York (Thursday, 9:30pm et, TSN2): Dallas: "They can't hang with me. Their bones would melt like wax."
Los Angeles Lakers at Dallas (Sunday, 8:30pm et): Kobe Bryant: "They picked a fight with a warlock."
Atlanta at Chicago (Friday, 8pm et): "Just sit back and enjoy the show."