Apr 19, 2008

NBA Playoffs Round 1

The next few posts will be me revealing my NBA playoff picks round by round. Round 1 now, round 2 next, and round 3 to follow. Plus, you'll get my picks for awards season! It's FANNNNNNNNNN-TASTIC!!!

This is, quite simply, my favorite time of year. I know, I'm a football fanatic, but the end of April brings me NHL Playoff Hockey (I don't care what you say, OT in a NHL Playoff Game is the best period of time in sports), NBA Playoff Basketball (See below), and the NFL Draft. It's almost like God wants me to spend the next 50 days talking, watching and thinking sports. His will be done.

Boston (1) vs. Atlanta (8)
We're number 8! We're number 8! Doesn't quite have the same ring to it like the stuff these Boston people keep yelling, but what can you do? Usually, I would say that the underdog could steal the first game at home, since the crowd would be into it, and the favorite might lay off the gas because of the two first game blow outs. This will not happen. There are only maybe 500 Hawks fans in Atlanta, so it will be a pro-Celtic crowd, plus do you really think that Kevin Garnett will let this team let up? I didn't think so.
Boston in 4.

Detroit (2) vs. Philly (7)
Not the squash I would have thought it would be a few weeks ago. This Sixers team has gotten better and better down the stretch, and have handed losses to the Spurs, Suns and Pistons over the past 2 months. These wins, coupled with Detroit's tendency to become complacent against inferior opponents lets the Sixers stretch this thing out. But not too far.
Detroit in 5.

Orlando (3) vs. Toronto (6)
I don't see it. Toronto hasn't been healthy all year, their best point guard is coming off of the bench, and to say that Chris Bosh's toughness is questionable is being way too kind. Sure, the Toronto guard play is, on paper, vastly superior to the Magic, but between Dwight and Hedo, I don't see this series going all the way.
Orlando in 6.

Cleveland (4) vs. Washington (5)
A popular school of thought is that it isn't a rivalry until the other team wins one. According to that school, this is the year this playoff matchup becomes a rivalry. Ever since the big trade, the supporting cast has significantly underwhelmed. Ben Wallace (who will be making more money than LeBron next year) has been exceedingly dismal, and the others acquired haven't given this team the boost some (not me) expected. On the other side, the Wiz pose questions that the Cavs just can't answer: who guards Caron Butler/Antwan Jamison? Who in their second unit checks Agent Zero coming off the bench? Is a Mike Brown-Eddie Jordan coaching matchup anywhere near fair? Well, I can answer the last one, but I don't think Cleveland can answer the others.
Washington in 6.

Lakers (1) vs. Denver (8)
The most frustrating thing is that, on paper, the Nuggets should be a top 5 team in the NBA. The reality is that it took Nellie being Nellie for them to back into the playoffs this year. Granted, this is the year that the Western Conference went nuts, but that's no real excuse: this team, featuring my all-time favorite player, is flawed and has no heart. I just hope that Kobe's return to Colorado gives us some great signs in the crowd
Lakers in 5.

New Orleans (2) vs. Dallas (7)
All I've talked about since the trade deadline is how much I didn't like the move for Jason Kidd, how Avery Johnson refused to change his coaching style to fit his new personnel, and how Dirk just didn't seem to have 'it' this year. Apparently, Dirk nearly losing a leg changed all of this. The Mavs seem to have figured out how to stop CP3 and if you stop him, you stop their offense. Kidd can't check him one-on-one, but as the nation saw in the N.O. season finale, they learned how to use team defense and traps to get the ball out of his hands. This will also mark the first playoff series ever that Avery Johnson does not change his team's game plan to fit that of their opponent. Good times.
Dallas in 5.

San Antonio (3) vs. Phoenix (6)
Wait, what the hell. If you had polled EVERYONE who watches the NBA before the season, this was the pick for the Western Conference Finals. And we get it in the opening round. Wow, I don't know who to thank. I do know that no matter who won the Finals MVP last year, the best player in that series was Tim Duncan. I do know that the only player who seems to consistently stymie The Big Fundamental's game is the (newly christened) Big Cactus. I do know that Manu has been hurt, and if he isn't 100%, and Shaq can stay out of foul trouble, I don't like the chances at a repeat.
Suns in 7.

Utah (4) vs. Houston (5)
Really weird that because of records, home court advantage is in the hands of the owners of the third longest winning streak in NBA history. Well chronicled is the fact that Utah has been awful on the road this year; but with no starting point guard for at least the first two games, and the next two being in Utah, this could be the stage where Utah starts winning road games, builds some confidence, and makes a deep run into the playoffs. Well, at least they'll beat the Rockets.
Utah in 5.

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