I don’t know if The Starting Five’s dwil photoshopped the above jpg or merely had the good fortune to find it somewhere. But with all due respect to his trenchant analysis of the Warriors/Jazz conference semi-final (he’s picking Utah), I think I’m gonna be having nightmares the rest of the week.

Where do people get these crazy headlines from, anyway? “Can we all agree that San Antonio did not control the pace?” asks True Hoop’s Henry Abbott, and yeah, if you’d told me Saturday night the Spurs and Suns would combine to score 217 points, there’s no way I’d have picked the former to win.

The Star-Ledger’s Dave D’Alessandro
pays homage to a pair of Cavs for their accomplishment yesterday in containing the Nets’ Vince Carter. VC, for his part, was less than blown away.

Perhaps the question of how the Nets will defend LeBron James is moot: He can shoot 8-for-21 and find a way to get a victory anyway, which was the case in Cleveland’s 81-77 tractor pull in Game 1 yesterday.

The more pertinent issue might be how the Nets can live without Vince Carter dominating offensively, because if the Cavs take him away — and allowing 21 points is pretty much what Mike Brown had in mind — the Nets are going nowhere.

“Almost every time he shoots you think it’s going in,” the Cavs coach said. “The only thing we can do is make him catch it a little farther (from the rim), continue to contest as many shots as possible, and hope that he misses. Because he’s a great player. I thought our guys did a solid job of that. We doubled him quite a bit, and we’ll keep mixing it up. We may double him sometimes and we may not.”

Either way, Carter disappeared in the second half, when he managed exactly one field goal (in eight attempts) while playing all 24 minutes.

The credit went mostly to a quiet, 23-year-old Serbian who has barely sniffed the playoffs before, and a 33-year-old war horse who has seen it all. Sasha Pavlovic and Eric Snow have almost nothing in common, but they both took Carter’s rhythm away yesterday.

“I just tried to play physical with him,” said the 6-7, 225-pound Pavlovic, whom Brown has called his most improved defender all season. “We all know he is Vince Carter. We know he is going to score a lot, but I’m just going to make it tough for him.”

As usual, Carter — who was 7-for-23 overall, 1-for-6 from deep, and attempted only six foul shots — didn’t give much credit to the defense.

“There were shots I can make in traffic, but I didn’t put it in the basket,” he said. “If my team’s going to trust me and put the ball in my hands, you have to make them. I was more disappointed in myself. But it’s a long series and you’re going to get those opportunities again.”