Before we get to the playoff prophecy found in this post, it's time to hand out some hardware for the regular season.
Coach of the Year - Rick Adelman
This season has been one illustrating some amazing coaching jobs. Eddie Jordan in Washington lost his best player, and sewed up a five seed, Byron Scott brought basketball back to New Orleans, and Doc Rivers hit the lottery of getting Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and an assistant coach who can explain defense. But, I have to give the nod for COY to Rick Adleman because of the reaction he spearheaded after losing Yao for the stretch run. Peeling off a NBA best 22 game winning streak, and cementing a place in the record books is a good way to get my vote.
Rookie of the Year - Al Horford
Ok, here's where you ask yourself: do I believe the hype, or do I react to results? Kevin Durant had all the pundits crowning him before the season, and had a helluva season post All Star break. But he's at home. Al Horford averaged a double-double while starting on a playoff team. It's really no contest to me.
Most Improved Player - Hedo Turkoglu
Did nothing but hit big shots.
Defensive Player of the Year - Kevin Garnett
Go ahead. Argue. I dare you.
Most Valuable Player - Chris Paul
Now THIS is an MVP race. With four legitimate contenders, I do not envy the actual voters. Garnett and LeBron are eliminated because they play in the East. Sorry fellas, that's just the way it is. Which leaves us KB24 and CP3. All second half, I had thought that whoever led their team to the 1 seed deserved the hardware, and there is an easy case to make for Kobe. Not only was he his usual level of greatness, but he also provided great television with a soap opera-like season. From whining about his teammates, to the Great Gasol Heist, to jumping Aston Martins on YouTube, to claiming the number one seed, it has truly been a memorable season. But Chris Paul submitted the best PG season since Oscar Robertson. Memorable vs. historic? No contest.
Now, onto Round 2:
Boston (1) vs. Washington (5)
The Celtics will have their hands full with the only team within the Association completely unafraid of them. Owning a winning regular season record against the PGA Tour, this scrappy bunch will bring a fire that would be lacking from Boston's first round opponent. But, Garnett will continue to drive and will his team to victory as he has all year, and secure a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Boston in 5.
Detroit (2) vs. Orlando (3)
Dwight Howard had monster games against the Stones this year, but everything else is stacked against the Magic. Their guard play is woefully unprepared for Rip and Chauncy, and Prince will be instrumental in making Hedo less of a factor. Even in light of this teams predisposition to slack off in series like this one, I think they learned their lesson from last year.
Detroit in 6.
Lakers (1) vs. Utah (4)
The biggest strengths of this Jazz team are Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer. With three PGs to run at Williams to throw him off his game, and an underrated Lamar Odom checking Boozer, there is no one on Utah who can guard Kobe, who will be focused in his quest for the Finals. TNT has the rights to the Western Conference Finals, and half of their dream matchup is finalized in rather short order.
Lakers in 5.
Phoenix (6) vs. Dallas (7)
Sorry Mr. Kidd. Maybe next year. With no one to even slow down an Amare who would be MVP if we just looked post-Shaq trade, and no one to body Shaq in the post, this will not be pretty. With Amare getting physical with the Big German, I think that TNT gets the other half of the dream, ratings wise, and storyline wise. Lakers! Suns! Shaq! Kobe! Only on TNT...brought to you by The Closer.
Phoenix in 6.