The best 40 days of the year

Take that, Lent!

NBA playoffs: I’m so excited, I’m so excited, I’m really damn scared:

Let’s start with the home team: I hate the Sixers matchup for the Stones. Hate it. The Sixers are everything the Stones aren’t: young, hungry, playing the best ball of their lives. I’m hardly the first person to say it, but Detroit has been overwhelmingly overconfident in every playoff series since winning the title. It’s really frustrating, and I don’t think there’s any solution for it. Maybe a great coach, a Jeff Van Gundy type would help? I don’t know. I don’t think Flip takes us past Boston. But talent and experience alone should win this one. Stones in five (could very easily be six or seven.)

Boston-Atlanta: This is the most lopsided matchup in the first round by a mile. I knew how good KG would be, and what Ray Allen would offer, but I had no idea how well Pierce would adapt. He’s been incredible. And Rondo and Perk have made huge leaps this year. I like Atlanta’s core, but this is a terrible match for them. Celtics sweep.

Orlando-Toronto: The series I’m least interested in watching (though I’m still going to watch it to see the Pistons’ foe.) I like Chris Bosh, but Dwight Howard is a force of nature, and Hedo and Rashard can score enough to beat the mercurial Raps. I like Orlando in six.

Washington-Cleveland: The Wizz are much much much much better than the Cavs right now. The Wizz have the second, third, and fourth best players in the series. I just don’t know how Gilbert is going to play, and I don’t think Lebron will allow himself to go out in the first round. Cavs in seven.

San Antonio-Phoenix: I’ve never been this excited about a first round series. There are so many variables in the west (will teams exhaust themselves in seven game battles? who’ll be the healthiest? will officials blow this matchup again?) but I think whoever wins this series wins the West. And whoever wins the East I think wins the whole thing. In the end, I think Amare breaks out in a really public way and dominates this series. Phoenix in seven, but I would not be surprised whatsoever to see the Spurs in the finals. (Phoenix was my preseason pick, by the way.)

Los Angeles-Denver: I really like Denver, and I think they could probably take out Houston or maybe New Orleans, but there’s no way they beat LA with Kobe scoring 60 every night. Lake Show in five.

New Orleans-Dallas: Chris Paul is my absolute favorite player to watch in the league right now. If you haven’t gotten a chance, take this series to fall in love with the best point guard in the world. Unreal talent. Dallas has shown a lot in the last week, and they have more good players, but New Orleans has unreal chemistry and karma. I think this could go either way, but I really want it to be Hornets in seven.

Utah-Houston: I want TMac to win a series, but it’s not happening here. I think my namesake is a huge advantage over Adelman (despite the great job he’s done without Yao) but Rafer’s injury was the last straw. Jazz in five.

Quick hits for posterity’s sake: Celtics over Lebron in five, Stones over Orlando in five, Suns over Hornets in six, Lakers over Jazz in seven, Celtics over Pistons in seven (somebody kill me), Suns over Lakers in seven (can you imagine that series?), Celtics over Suns in six.

If the Stones play the way we all know they’re capable of playing, they can beat the Celtics and anyone else. But I haven’t seen enough of that to justify the pick. But if it happens, let me rank the teams I don’t want to see in the Finals.

1. Utah Jazz—We always steal games on the road, and they are so good at home. I think Deron Williams takes away a lot of what Chauncey brings. I think Jerry Sloan would murder Flip coaching-wise, and everyone would be cheering for him to finally get a title. We don’t have to worry about this though, because Stern would not allow a Stones-Jazz final.
2. Spurs—The entire basketball world would revolt if this happened. I don’t think we have anybody who can guard Parker or Manu, they kill us. And we wouldn’t get easy baskets.
3. Lake Show—If Bynum were healthy, I think they run the table. Not even close. But I don’t think they have enough firepower without him.
4. Suns—I know I’m picking the Suns to win the lethal West, but I like the way we line up against them. I think we neutralize Amare by throwing a plethora of our big bodies against him, I think our bench destroys their bench, I think Flip might actually have the coaching edge here. I would love to see the Suns.
5. Dallas—Kind of the inverse of San Antonio at this point: I’ll expect the choke job until I see the opposite happen.
6. Hornets—This Paul fellow should stick with the whole basketball thing, he’s solid.
7. Denver—AI steals a game, Camby gets five blocks a game, I yearn for Carmelo’s 25 a game. At least we still have Darko.
8. Houston—Yao would be helpful against us. Hopefully China doesn’t run him into the ground this summer.

I might have to leave this city for a few weeks if Boston wins the title.


5 Responses to “The best 40 days of the year”

  1. Kenny Says:

    It’s going to be really interesting to see what kind of role our bench is able to play. They have looked really good down the stretch, but the playoffs are a different atmosphere. Going into the season i thought we had an advantage over Boston in this department, but the discount signings they’ve gotten have neutralized that. It will be interesting to see what bench guys Flip goes with. Stuckey and Max I think are going to get minutes for sure, but does he go with afflalo too? Or Lindsey? Amir or Theo?

    Boston has filled out that roster with good role players who defend and can make shots. There are times when I watch cassel and think he’s washed up, but I can still see him hurting us with some big shots.

    Basically I agree that the pistons will have to play their best ball to beat Boston. As always Sheed is going to be crucial. He might match up with KG better than any other big in the league. If he can neutralize KG or at least slow him down I think we have a really really good shot.

  2. sloan Says:

    i’m not too worried about KG’s offense, but i am worried about us getting easy buckets on a consistent basis. the celtics defense has been so good. this is a series (potential series, we’re a long way from there!) where i really wish we had carmelo.

  3. zachary Says:

    i really wish we had cbosh. but carmello would like nice starting at the 3. with tay tay coming in as our 6th man. geeee

  4. Pat Says:

    You hate the sixers matchup for the stones but pick the pistons in 5? I agree with your pick and am not very worried about philly.

    Agreed on the boston sweep.

    The wiz are NOT better than the cavs, i don’t care about reason records or how the cavs have played .500 basketball since the trade or any of that bs. Lebron is the best player in the east and probably the league (kobe arguments can be made) and i like the cavs to sweep, maybe the wiz can take 1 game.

    Magic in 6.

    San antonio in 7. (they will not lose game 7 at home)

    Lakers sweep the nugs. Carmelo is bad, AI can’t dominate like he used to and these teams aren’t really close to the same level. That said, the nugs are a team who could find lightning in a bottle with all their offensive weapons. I just don’t see it happening.

    Dallas in 6. This is my upset pick of the first round. I like the experience dallas has and i think Kidd is just finally fitting in with the mavs. Dallas doesn’t boast the best record in the league this season but they know all too well that regular season records don’t guarantee you playoff success. I think they’ve been focused on the playoffs the entire season. Chris Paul is still awesome.

    Jazz in 5. No Yao means the rockets will have a whale of a time beating the jazz in more than 1 or 2 games.

    As the playoffs continue i think the pistons make the finals over the celtics after a long and grueling 7 gamer between the two c’s.

    in the west i like the lakers over the spurs in 7 (no home court this time for the spurs) and the jazz over the mavs in 6.

    It should be obvious now that i love the jazz, i’m not sure why. But i think the lakers have what it takes with gasol to beat the jazz and get to the finals to rematch the pistons vs lakers final. This time around i think kobe is too much for the pistons and he earns his first ring without shaq.

    hope i’m wrong and the pistons can pull it out.

    the spurs – suns series is far and away the best of the first round and hopefully it goes right down to the wire.

  5. sloan Says:

    i think the sixers could conceivably take us to seven if we’re distracted and dreaming of losing in the finals. the pistons bother me in the playoffs, i don’t like it.

    is dallas over new orleans really an upset? i think we can throw the seeding out in the west really. dallas has a better home court advantage, and way more experience. i don’t think a dallas victory would shock anyone. that being said, chris paul is to basketball as reese is to eating. he’s something else.

    i’m going to watch every bit of the stones series and every western conference series (unless utah-houston gets out of hand.) and i’ll watch most of the other eastern matchups. i’m really excited.

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