Friday, April 21, 2006

On To The Real Season

For the past couple days ESPN Classic has been showing a nonstop marathon of past NBA playoffs classics, which has served as a great appetizer for this year's edition. Nothing like seeing the names of Thurl Bailey and Chuck Person to get you pumped for a little NBA postseason action.

Eastern Conference

Pistons vs Bucks. You know, the other day I saw a shot of Flip Saunders and I asked myself, "Is he an NBA title-winning coach?" Don't get me wrong. I like Saunders. I think he's a fine coach and has done a solid job of not messing up the good thing the Pistons already had going. But an NBA title-winning coach? I really don't know about that. Of course, it helps to have the best team in the league under your control. The pick? Pistons in five.

Cavaliers vs Wizards. I have a feeling the Cavs are much better than people are giving them credit for. There seems to be a general feeling that LeBron has already accomplished plenty this season by finally hitting some clutch shots and getting to the playoffs. I've even heard the Wizards' playoff experience from last year when they beat the Bulls in the first round - the Bulls were without the injured Luol Deng and Eddy Curry, mind you - cited as an advantage. At the very least, most people seem to think this will be a competitive series. I don't buy it. As much as I like the quirky Gilbert Arenas, LeBron is ready to make his first genuine push towards the heights. I'm salivating over the thought of LeBron facing the Pistons in the second round. As I mentioned before, it will be a bit reminiscint of a young MJ trying to get bast the Bad Boys. The pick? Cavs in five.

Nets vs Pacers. Is there anyone in the NBA less lucky than Rick Carlisle? After being unceremoniously dumped by Detroit just when he had the Pistons on the brink of greatness, he moved to Indiana and has dealt with the craziness of Ron Artest, blockbuster trades, the moodiness and injuries of Jermaine O'Neal, and Stephen Jackson, who just seems like a surly, selfish cat. And yet here Indiana sits in the playoffs. Again. You just know that the eternally well-coached Pacers will make a respectable showing and maybe even push the Nets to the brink. In the end, however, New Jersey will just have too much sheer talent in Jason Kidd, Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson. That's a whole lot of talent. The pick? Nets in six.

Heat vs Bulls. OK, you all know I'm biased here. If you think I can give any rational, realistic reasoning behind my pick here, think again. So all I will say is that I honestly think the Bulls have a chance in this series. They're hot, having won 12 of 14, and despite their obvious disadvantage inside, Shaq is not the Shaq he used to be and Alonzo Mourning is still hobbling. That's not to say Tyson Chandler, Malik Allen, and Michael Sweetney are going to outplay Shaq and Zo, but perhaps they can neutralize them just enough to allow Kirk Hinrich, Ben Gordon, Andres Nocioni and Luol Deng to do their thing. Captain Kirk will be guarding Dwyane Wade and may the force be with him. Here we go now. The pick? Bulls in six.

Western Conference

Spurs vs Kings. Is it just me, or are the Spurs flying strangely under the radar? I mean, nobody is talking about them unless it's to mention that they're banged up or how the Kings are the most dangerous eighth seed in years or to show gratuitous pics of Eva Longoria (color me guilty), but then you look at the standings and the Spurs have 63 freakin' wins. Maybe that's what happens when you have a collection of quiet, unassuming guys who methodically win while avoiding all controversy. The pick? Spurs in five.

Mavericks vs Grizzlies. For all the talk about how this year's Mavs are different, things are going to end the same as they always do in Dallas, most likely in six games to the Spurs. The pick? Mavs in five.

Nuggets vs Clippers. The Clippers are a weird situation. As much as I want root to for them simply because, well, they're the CLIPPERS, I wasn't very fond of the way they intentionally choked down the stretch to face the Nuggets rather than the Mavericks. If the Cubs have taught us anything, it's that karma is alive and well, and the Clippers are about to be bit. Elton Brand might want to wear a pair of knee braces as a premptive measure. Something bad might go down. Carmelo Anthony? Love him. Dude is money. And George Karl knows all about the playoffs. The pick? Nuggets in seven.

Suns vs Lakers. Ah, what could have been. How good would the Suns have been this year with a healthy Amare Stoudemire. I have nothing but respect for Steve Nash and Shawn Marion, and really, anyone involved with the Suns. Kobe Bryant will be knocked out in the opening round, making the Unknown Column very happy. I read some comment the other day where Kobe said something about how he used all the people who didn't think he could get the Lakers to the postseason as motivation. What a tool. The guy was was winning titles and now he's beating out the Jazz for a playoff spot. Yeah, I'm impressed. Not really. The pick? Suns in six.


Blogger Big Al said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:50 AM  
Blogger Big Al said...

2 problems; 1 Lebron has no answer for Agent Zero. 2 Eva Longoria is butt, dont believe the hype

9:53 AM  
Blogger UnknownColumn said...

Yeah, maybe I'm overlooking the Wizards a little, or thinking too much about their recent five-game skid. But really, I've had a good feeling about the Cavs for a while now. I figure the Cavs can win two in Cleveland, split in DC, and come back to Cleveland up 3-1. Don't get me wrong. I have no rooting interest here. I'd prefer just to see a good series.

And I agree about Eva. She's not that hot. Hot, but not unreal. She still looks nice, though.

But the Beattles? How can you not like the Beattles - or at least Lennon's stuff? Lennon was on a level all by himself.

10:23 AM  
Blogger Big Al said...

i was pretty mad that day. never paid much attention to lennons solo stuff. started hating the beatles after i saw yellow submarine' WTF was that? glad youve seen the light on Eva. 'works in your building hot?' sure, TV / movie hot, no way.

12:38 PM  
Blogger Bill-DC said...

Bullets Fever, happens to me every year....Wait, check that. I'm still not used to seeing the Wizards in post season as this is just their third appearance in 18 years. Back to back years though is impressive to me but this time last week I was convinced they were doomed.

Wilbon wrote today:

[i]Yet LeBron enters these playoffs with a handicap. He has no playoff experience. His head coach has no playoff experience. Two of his three most important teammates (Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Drew Gooden) have played in only one postseason series between them.

As a future Hall of Fame player said in a conversation yesterday, "Who else in that locker room, in a chaotic situation, can take control?" Maybe Larry Hughes? Eric Snow? Hey, maybe it'll be LeBron. Maybe his mastery of the game will negate the pressures of playoff basketball. Possible, but highly unlikely. Nobody since 20-year-old Magic Johnson has done it at a championship level.

And the Wizards, of all teams, could be the team to educate him and take advantage of the lesson. The Wizards have the experience of winning a round in the playoffs and of losing a round in the playoffs last year. They've got a star of their own, Gilbert Arenas, who has hit a game-winning shot in the playoffs and who might just average as many points in this series as LeBron. They've got a coach who has a series victory as a head coach and two trips to the NBA Finals as an assistant.[/i]

I think this goes seven personally and the Wizards advance.

Do they re-seed after the first round? Again, as a Wizards fan I don't know much about this.

5:43 PM  

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