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.