Thursday, April 14, 2011
Western Conference Playoffs Preview
I love the playoffs. Quadruple headers all weekend and then at least 2 games a night for 7 months straight (or that's at least what it feels like). This is when NBA basketball really counts for something besides degenerate over/under bets. The crowds are at NFL levels of excitement through out the entire game (and not just the last two minutes) and the intensity of play is ratcheted up about 1000%. Let's get it on!
1) Spurs vs 8) Grizzlies
A rematch of the last playoff series that the Grizz played. Remarkably, the Spurs have kept their core intact, all the while adding some great 3 point shooting (to replace Bruce Bowen's ugly corner 3s and Brent Barry's ugly face) while the Grizzlies (like most NBA teams) look nothing like their 2006 incarnation when the other Gasol was their starting center. Pop is probably the coach of the year (even though he won't win) for changing the teams' style from notoriously slow and plodding to high scoring and almost exciting while some how almost getting the best record in the league. Memphis is a trendy pick right now to make noise, but I don't see them pulling an upset.
Spurs in 5
2) Lakers vs 7) Hornets
This series has all the makings of a slaughter. The Hornets are missing their best scorer, and they weren't all that great even with him. The Lakers have stumbled a bit in the past couple weeks but we all know they hibernate until this time of year. Derek Fisher either uses HGH in May or he has a 27 year old twin (Eric Fisher maybe?) who subs in for him every spring.
Lakers in 4
3) Mavericks vs 6) Trail Blazers
Are they still called the Trail Blazers or did they officially drop the Trail? I'm not about to look it up. Even trendier than picking the Grizzlies to upset is picking Dallas to fall apart and Portland to make a run, but I think Dallas is still a class above the Blazers. Of course, they were a class above the Heat and Warriors and we all know how that turned out. Still, I'm sticking with my prediction of no upsets in the Western first round for 2 reasons: 1) Brandon Roy is nothing but a mascot for them now, comes out and revs the crowd up but is not the scorer he once was. and 2) their back up Point guard is named Patty Mills. If they were playing the darts playoffs at Bull Shots, then someone named Patty Mills is your guy, but not basketball.
Mavericks in 7
4) Thunder vs 5) Nuggets
George Karl should also get some votes for coach of the year for keeping the Nugs in contention during the Melo hoopla, and then somehow getting this collection of talented but not great players to the third best record in the league since the all-star break. If Denver can somehow advance and the Knicks as expected bow out early, Carmelo's reputation will definitely take a hit. I don't see that happening though; this is Kevin Durant's year to break through to the 2nd round (Kendrick Perkins has added a presence down low as well) and OKC will win in 6.
Eastern Conference preview coming tomorrow.