Tuesday, April 12, 2011

NBA Playoff Picture

The month of April is always so exciting. There is always so much happening, so many new things to experience, and everything feels renewed. Of course it does. It should it is called Spring for a reason.

College football spring practices begin, we get the start of a new Major League Baseball season, the WNBA draft (which is like, super important, except not and the total opposite). The NFL/NBA draft talk is buzzing, and of course, April ushers in the NBA playoffs. We have our standings all but cemented.

Eastern Conference
1. Chicago
2. Miami
3. Boston
4. Orlando
5. Atlanta
6. New York
7. Philadelphia
8. Indiana

Western Conference
1. San Antonio
2. Dallas
3. LA Lakers
4. Oklahoma City
5. Denver
6. Portland
7. Memphis
8. New Orleans

I love the NBA playoffs, but the last three seasons especially. The addition of Derrick Rose to the playoff scene makes up 71% of my excitement. His rookie year, he put ‘da team on his back like Greg Jennings, (YouTube “Greg Jennings Broken Leg” for the reference, but be aware, there is strong adult language) and gets the Chicago Bulls the seventh seed by finishing the season on a 12-4 run. Rose and the Bulls then take the defending champion Boston Celtics to a Game 7. One of the best series I have witnessed since the late 90’s. This postseason I am expecting fireworks.

ROUND ONE GAMES:

(1) Chicago Bulls vs (8) Indiana Pacers
Regular season series (Bulls lead 3-1)

Rose is either your MVP or not. I am still on the fence. Well, not so much on the fence, but more along the lines of “I don’t really care if it is Rose or LeBron, but it is definitely not ANY body else”. If that makes any sense. I could make a case for either really. Rose meant more to the Bulls (and by more I mean slightly more—do not discount LBJ) than LeBron did to the Miami Heat. But LeBron had LeBron stats 27ppg, 7ast, 7.5rpg and a 27.32 PER. It washes out. They could share it; one could win it outright. I am not clamoring for one or the other.

What this means to the Indiana Pacers, is that they are playing against the first or second best player in the NBA. Not good. If the Derrick Rose could almost beat the Celtics by himself in ‘08-09, then Bulls should role through the Pacers with Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver who is shooting 43% from distance.

Pick: Bull win 4-0

(1) San Antonio Spurs vs (8) New Orleans Hornets
Regular season series (Series tied 2-2)

Half of the members on the Spurs team get senior citizen discounts when they go to movies—they are that old. Old dogs they may be, but the own the leagues best record at 61-19. They are also deadly on their home court, tied with the Bulls for best home record 35-5, and should jump out to a 2-0 lead.

The Hornets are interesting to me.

They start the season 11-1 and have everyone’s attention. Then they drop 9 out of their next 12 games and lose all the attention. They then win some more, but continue to lose a few games here and there. The Hornets continue to be unnoticed as everybody only cares about how much the Heat are not gelling.

Meanwhile, the Hornets fan attendance plummets and their two-year attendance average does not meet the NBA requirements. David Stern and the League step in and buy the team. No one really notices, except for basketball fans in Seattle, who are now freaking out at the possibility of having an NBA return. I wrote a little about this in a December column last year. But before that story can gain any momentum, the NBA focus fell on Carmelo Anthony and whether he would star or go. By the time he left, the Heat were where we thought they would be, so it became necessary to talk about how everyone overacted. Then the Rose vs. LeBron MVP talk started. The Hornets just fell beneath the cracks.

If you asked any moderate fan of the NBA, like my dad for example, to tell you who the 8th seed in the West was—they could not do it. When you told them it was New Orleans, they would be like, “Huh? I forgot that team even existed.” This is a team that finished eleven games over .500 and nobody knows anything about them. This is why I think this series will almost go to a seventh game.

Pick: Spurs win 4-2

(2) Miami Heat vs (7) Philadelphia 76ers
Regular season series (Heat lead 3-0)

Not much to say here, but I will add this:

The other day DraftExpress.com had Jimmer Fredette going to the 76ers with the 17th overall pick. I had already told myself that I was going to buy Jimmer’s first NBA jersey. I had my throwback, swingman Phila jersey all picked out, and then Perry Jone removed his name for the draft. Now they have Jimmer going to the New York Knicks. ESPN.com has Jimmer going to the Jazz with the 12th overall pick.

I want Jimmer to get out of Utah and spread his wings. I also do not want to have to buy a Utah Jazz jersey. Woof. Not because they have bad uni’s but I really do not give a dump about that team. But at the same time, I have never really liked the Knicks. Plus, their uniforms are kind of boring. Nothing throwback about them.

Just give me my freaking Phila Jimmer jersey already. Or at least let the Suns draft him. Their throwbacks are ill.

Pick: Heat win 4-0

(2) Dallas Mavericks vs (7) Memphis Grizzlies
Regular season series (Grizzlies lead 3-1)

We all have our favorites teams we choose to follow. And then we have our wildcard team. I always like to find a team that sucks, but have the potential to be a factor in 3-5 years. The Grizzlies have been that team for me since 1999. Memphis missed the 3-5 windows for me…twice. They are late bloomers, what can I say? I am like a proud father.

This is why I am telling you THE MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES WILL BE IN THE SECOND ROUND this year.

They are too much for Dallas to take down. Zach Randolph is a monster. Marc Gasol is playing his best basketball right now, along with Tony Allen. With Rudy Gay being down, O.J. Mayo decided to play like you want your 3rd overall pick to play like and everyone else has stepped up. Everything is clicking for the Grizzlies as a team.

This is not good if your entire team is Dirk Nowitzki. Sorry Mark Cuban. I love you on Shark Tank, but you over pay old players like it is the only thing you know how to do. My baby Grizzlies are now all grown up and got there ish together. Grizzlies win this series.

Pick: Grizzlies win 4-2
New favorite sucky team with 5-year potential: Minnesota Timberwolves


(3) Boston Celtics vs (6) New York Knicks
Regular season series (Boston leads 3-0)

I have the Boston and New York series penciled in for the second most exciting series of the opening round. On paper the Celtics have this. They are too gritty, and they will probably win this thing is only one loss. Maybe not even that. But something in my gut keeps telling me that every game in this series is going to be a coin flip. Maybe it is because I have seen Amare and Carmelo turn in on for the former teams in the playoffs before, so the sky could be the limit now that they play on the same team.

I am probably totally wrong, but I see this going seven games. Like I said… the second most exciting series of the opening round…

Pick: Boston wins 4-3

(3) Los Angeles Lakers vs (6) Portland Trailblazers
Regular season series (Lakers lead 3-1)

It is payback time. Ten years in the making. The prediction I am making, is that this series will surpass the drama which took place in the 2000 Western Conference Finals.

Blazers have all the right pieces and everything going for them. LeMarcus Aldridge, Marcus Camby, Andre Miller, Wesley Matthews, and Gerald Wallace who was STOLEN from Charlotte will get it done (I think there is even a warrant for arrest out on Kevin Pritchard in the state of North Carolina). Sorry Kobe.

One of the first ever HITS columns I wrote was about how I thought Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder would be the team that kept Kobe from ever winning a sixth title—and I still believe hold that to be true—but this year, the team that stops Kobe and the Lakers will be the Portland Trailblazers.

From a non-Blazers fan you heard it first: Blazers beat Lakers in a thrilling game seven. Best opening round series.

Pick: Blazers win 4-3

(4) Orlando Magic vs (5) Atlanta Hawks
Regular season series (Hawks lead 3-1)

We have reached an impasse here at HITS. The writers want the Hawks, but the editors say the Magic. To decide which team would make this column’s cut, the two parties agreed to settle the decision with a cockfight.

Representing the Orlando Magic is an Orpington rooster named ‘Lil Penny (after Magic great Anfernee Hardaway) and the chicken representing the Atlanta Hawks is a White-faced Black Spanish rooster named Teddy KGB (after John Malkovich’s character in the movie Rounders).

[EDITORS NOTE: The HITS staff writers regret to inform the passing of Teddy KGB today. Teddy KGB lived a short life—as was expected in the world of cockfighting. He is survived by passionate writers worldwide.]

Pick: Magic win 4-1

(4) Oklahoma City Thunder vs (5) Denver Nuggets
Regular season series (Thunder lead 3-1)

In this four/five match up, we find a team I think is NBA Finals bound. The Denver Nuggets are certainly not that team. Kevin Durant is the truth. That is why there is a #35 Seattle Supersonics home jersey hanging in my closet. And I am not even a Sonics fan. {-insert what ever city they land in-} Kings ‘till I die!!! But I do love me some Kevin Durant & Co.

Pick: Thunder win 4-0
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SECOND ROUND GAMES

WEST:
Thunder defeat Spurs 4-2
Blazers defeat Grizzlies 4-1

EAST:
Bulls defeats Orlando 4-1
Miami defeats Boston 4-3

CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS

WEST:
Thunder defeat Blazers 4-2

EAST:
Miami defeats Bulls 4-3

NBA FINALS
I want to sleep on this one. I will deliver my pick on Friday.


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