Apr 15, 2011

First Round Playoff Preview / Predictions

I am a lazy blogger. Getting an iphone only makes matter worse because I can write tweets up anytime anywhere, essentially replaces the necessity for updating my blog. There are, however, still times when a short tweet or new facebook status will not suffice. The 10-11 NBA playoffs is coming up and due to various reasons ranging from Lebron’s decision, teams like Knicks and Blazers stacking up their starpower, and Kobe’s quest for 2nd threepeat, anticipation for this upcoming playoffs is at defcon 1. With all that said, I feel that it is about time i unretire my blog and type up my preview/predictions for the upcoming playoffs.

Eastern Conference First Round:
Bulls (1) vs Pacers (8)
I am still baffled by the fact that a team led by Roy Hibbert, Josh McRoberts, Psycho T, and a rookie coach managed to make the playoffs while Steve Nash and the Suns didn’t. Honestly, if Raptors management have any sense at all, they would try to do some sort of Steve Nash for Bargnani + pick trade. The Raptors really aren’t getting anywhere anytime anyway, they might as well trade for the MOST POPULAR CANADIAN PLAYER for the ONLY TEAM IN CANADA, at least half of Canada would go see this team and buy the team’s merchandise. Isnt that better than where they are heading? The reason why I keep going off on Nash? Thats because it goes without saying that Derrick Rose will accomplish something Tracy McGrady never did, which is getting past the first round.

Magic (4) vs Hawks (5)
This was actually last year’s second round matchup where the Magic swept the Hawks. The fact that this gets pushed to the first round either means the league overall got better or these 2 teams got worse. Honestly this is the matchup that no one really expects anything from the winner. The Hawks have been in this sort of “we will make the playoffs but we aren’t going to make it far” status forever while every year people expect the Magic to be pushovers because they rely on 3 too much. You look back and this is a Magic team that
A – has the best center in the NBA and
B - made it to the Finals and conference final over the past 2 years
And we are down on them... for what reason? Yea they are questionable defensively, but isn’t that the case every year? Is it because they upgraded Vince and Rashard Lewis’ deadbody with Hedo and Ryan Anderson? Or is it because Dwight improved his offense this year? I am really not buying the fact that Magic is pushover.

Cetlics (3) vs Knicks (6)
Here is a breakdown of Celtics’ win-loss numbers. 35-10 without Perkins for the first 45 games, 8-4 with Perkins back in the lineup, and 14-11 without Perkins AND Shaq. Over that 35-10 stretch, Celtics’ record against playoffs teams were: 2-0 against Heat, 2-0 against Bulls, beat Thunder, lost to Mavs by 2 points on a back to back. So we know the Celtics can win without Perkins. I don’t buy that whole “Celtics stop believing ubuntu” / Rondo miss Perkins story, not when Rondo basically killed the Jazz and Suns within a week after the trade. I think what really changed is that Doc Rivers has been making Rondo take more medium range shots to prepare for the playoffs and that has hurt Celtics’ post-All star game offensive rhythm. With Shaq returning to the lineup and assuming that he stays healthy, I cant see the Knicks stopping Celtics with their defense. Knicks’ offense might carry them to take a game or two but I don’t see how Knicks can win 4.

Heat (2) vs 76ers (7)
I read an interesting theory somewhere on ESPN saying that the Sixers are the worst first round matchup for the Heat. Not because the writer thinks Sixers can win, but more because the Heat will play their usual uptempo style in beating the Sixers but that does not in any way prep them for their 2nd round’s grind it out with Celtics. Interesting theory, wonder if that really will be the case, but at least it gives me something to write about for this series. Also, I noticed that the Heat starting doing more Wade-Lebron pick n rolls and that is a play that can potentially be more dangerous than the Stockton Malone express. AND most importantly, depth is not going to matter as much during the playoffs for the Heat due to the breaks between game and they can play their best 5 more, only making their chance better. I think the only thing the Sixers can do is get Tony Battie, Jodie Meeks or 1 of their D-League guys and go mack on Lebron’s mom just to distract him a la what happened with Delonte last year.

Western Conference First Round:
Spurs (1) vs Grizzlies (8)
As a spurs fan, it is extremely sad to see Manu go down with an extended elbow when Popovich managed the minutes and the Parke/Brent Barry so perfectly all season, at least its not Manu’s shooting hand. I actually think this series has the most underplayed and interesting subplot for the first round. The Grizzlies basically mailed in the last 2 games to make sure that they get the spurs and not the lakers in the playoffs.... and Popovich will make them pay for it. Even without such motivation, Spurs are extremely good at defending the opposing best player and the Griz will have a hard time with Gay out and Zach Randolph locked down.

Thunder (4) vs Nuggets (5)
Here we go. Upset special. Yes, I have the Nuggets winning over the Thunder. I barely watched any Nuggets since the trade and I don’t necessarily think that the Nuggets is a better team, I see it more as the Thunder losing the series. Remember all those years when T-Mac kept losing in the first round despite leading 3-1 / having a better team? The mental hurdle of getting past the first round and the pressure from it might actually hurt the Thunder’s chances.
Honestly though... I really just typed all that up just to tell myself that Spurs will have an easier opponent in the Nuggets at the second round. If Thunder do win this Nuggets series, I can see them going all the way to NBA finals. I just hope that they don’t win this first round... Westbrook Harden Durant Ibaka Perkins is a VERY VERY scary starting 5.

Mavericks (3) vs Blazers (6)
As of this moment, I still cant decide a winner for this series. Between acquiring Gerald Wallace and the Brandon Roy’s rejuvenation, the Blazers have somehow become one of the most dangerous lower seed teams. They can score, they can defend the post, and the only thing against them is that their coach has only once gotten past first round. On the other hand, I think the Mavs are a bit underrated because of past playoff failures and how much the team relies on Dirk and Dirk only. In order for Dallas to win, Jason Terry, Jason Kidd, and Peja needs to knock down a good portion of their jumpers and it is hard to imagine them doing that. I am only rooting for the Mavs solely for the fact that I want to see a Dirk Kobe playoff series (never happened).

Lakers (2) vs Hornets (7)
I really cant see the Hornets winning without David West, even if 2011 Chris Paul somehow becomes 2009 Chris Paul again and murders the Derek Fisher Steve Blake pu pu platter. Good god... I still cant get over the fact that Derek Fisher is one of the starting 5 in this championship contending team. Side Note: Not that I wish bad for anyone but it really annoys me that the Lakers players are always in perfect shape for the playoffs (Bynum is hurt... oh no it actually isn’t a big deal) while my beloved Spurs lose Manu over some meaningless 82nd game of the season.

Hopefully, I will get to do a second round version.

No comments: