Not Quite the Year of the Bull — NBA Playoffs Preview
April 15, 2011 § 2 Comments
I hope I haven’t lost too many of you readers due to my sporadic output over the past couple weeks (that pesky 40-hour-a-week job is cutting into my blog time!), but the good news is that there are very few of you lose. Always gotta look at the positive side of things.
Anyway, I’ve been asked by my editor to write an NBA playoffs preview. I tried arguing with him that most of my friends/readers wouldn’t be interested and would complain about my blog’s content next time they see me, most likely by saying the same old line: “I like your blog when it’s anything but sports.” And honestly, I’d like to cater more to that audience because non-sports subjects attract more readers and they tend to leave thoughtful comments, unlike the majority of my sports-reading audience, who (a.) think they’re too cool to comment (Brandon Green, Will Petersen, etc. The rest know who you are), (b.) leave the least intellectual comments possible (Ted) or (c.) hate me because I think their team is going to lose in the first round (Brandon and Will again).
BUT…my editor’s a dick. And so I’m stuck writing a blog about the NBA playoffs. While we’re here, let’s have fun and break down some basketball!
Eastern Conference 1st Round
1. Bulls vs. 8. Pacers: Bulls win 4-0.
The Pacers will lose by an average of 20 points per game. Danny Granger will officially become the second coming of Joe Johnson (not quite good enough to be the best player on a playoff contender, but will soon be paid like one).
2. Heat vs. 7. 76ers: Heat win 4-1.
I can act like I know a lot about both teams here, but the truth is that the 76ers were never on TV this year, so I never saw them play. And if they were on TV, I probably wouldn’t have watched them. However, from what I’ve heard they mesh pretty well, even with Evan Turner looking like a bust. That’ll be enough to win them game 3 and get people talking about a possible Miami chokejob, but honestly, Miami shouldn’t have a problem here, and if the do, they’re gonna be an even worse playoff team than I originally thought.
3. Celtics vs. 6. Knicks: Celtics win 4-2
The Knicks certainly seem like they’re better built for the playoffs than they are for the regular season because of their newfound half-court style, and the Celts have certainly struggled since the Kendrick Perkins trade. Hence, many “clever” sportswriters who think they’re “taking a unique angle” have picked the Knicks in an upset. No way in hell that happens. The Celts might be diminished and a little broken-spirited since unloading Perkins, but the core of Rondo-Allen-Pierce-Garnett are far too mentally tough to let that effect them against a Knicks team who they should beat 19 times out of 20 in a 7-game series. In later rounds, the Celts’ age, health and spirit are more likely to catch up, but against a team that gives Shawne Williams and Anthony Carter significant minutes, they should be fine.
4. Magic vs. 5. Hawks: Magic win 4-2
Has there ever been a worse 5-seed than the Hawks? Better yet, has a team’s sum of its parts ever been lower than that of the Hawks? Ideally, in basketball especially, you want your sum to be better than your parts. That’s what makes a sports team, or any business, run smoothly and turn a profit. However, the Hawks are like the anti-Bulls; they have a bunch of talented players who have no idea how to play cohesively. Very strange. Anyway, if the Hawks win this series, Dwight Howard should be tarred and feathered every subsequent time he calls himself Superman.
Second Round (No explanations for the later rounds until their respective starts.)
1. Bulls over 4. Magic in 6
3. Celtics over 2. Heat in 7
Eastern Conference Finals
3. Celtics over 1. Bulls in 7 (although I’d really like to pick the Bulls here, I can’t go against my original pick because then I’d be no better than Peter King.)
Western Conference 1st Round
1. Spurs over 8. Grizzlies: Spurs win 4-2
Probably a little tougher matchup than the Spurs would’ve liked, but they’ll survive. The Grizzlies are a tough team, and Zach Randolph will give them fits, but the Spurs’ experience will win out.
2. Lakers over 7. Hornets: Lakers win 4-1
Wow, the Lakers lucked out with this matchup. Give the Hornets credit for being scrappy and refusing to bow out of the playoffs after losing David West for the season. But the Lakers should have a field day versus them, provided that Andrew Bynum can play 30 strong minutes a game (not a given of course). Plus, I just can’t get this game out of my head when I think of the Hornets in the playoffs.
6. Blazers over 3. Mavericks: Blazers win 4-2
Our first upset of the playoffs! Ever since the Blazers acquired Gerald Wallace for $10 and a bag of poop, they’ve taken their play to a whole different level. I love this team, especially LaMarcus Aldridge, who I’m ashamed to admit I thought would be a bust when he was drafted in 2006. Also, Portland employs one of my favorite under-the-radar players that the average fan hasn’t heard of: Nicolas Batum, who resembles Dr. J on fast breaks. The only player who can save the Mavs is Dirk Nowitzki, who has been fantastic all season and has cemented himself as the best foreign NBA player of all time, but he’ll be smothered by Wallace all series. Dirk’s practically unguardable, but if anyone can keep him in check, Wallace can, and that will make all the difference.
4. Thunder over 5. Nuggets: Thunder win 4-3
As much as I hate hearing about all the Denver sports teams from Will and Brandon, I have to admit that the Nuggets are much more enjoyable post-Carmelo. Of course, the afterglow of removing the burden of Melo will inevitably wear off, probably sooner than later, but right now, the Nugs are playing great ball. Unfortunately, they had the terrible luck of drawing the Thunder instead of the Mavs, with whom they matched up really well. Too bad, because the Nugs deserve to win a playoff series. But the Thunder are tearing up the league and are poised to take a big step forward this season by winning their first playoff series and legitimately contending for a title. Durant’s in his fourth year; it’s time for him to make the leap and grab this series by the throat. I believe he will.
Western Conference 2nd Round
1. Spurs over 4. Thunder in 7
2. Lakers over 6. Blazers in 6
Western Conference Finals
2. Lakers over 1. Spurs in 6
Lakers over Celtics in 6