Tuesday, April 24, 2007

NBA Playoff Report

Well, I have to be honest with you...I was a little embarrassed when, despite discussing the seedings in the East twice, I failed to notice the possibility of the interesting situation that sent the Bulls packing their bags for a trip to Assville. (Though it will make for a better series.)

I gotta get down to business. After an exciting weekend of New York Metropolitans baseball, I find myself slightly out of the basketball loop, so the best I can do is offer some scattered thoughts (most of which will be aimed at patting myself on the back). [Side Note: Isn't it weird how a professional athlete like Mehmet Okur {above} can have a double chin?]

-I am very surprised the Warriors beat the Mavericks. When I actually think about the players, it makes a little more sense, as I've never been that high on the Mavs' personnel (not that they're not good, I don't think they're 65-win good). Still, the Mavs play very well as a team on both ends, have one guy that is almost unstoppable, and have an extremely large advantage over the Warriors in the frontcourt. I don't think this will continue, but if Baron Davis keeps playing the way he's playing (and I'm all about the importance of point guard play), I give the warriors a one in three shot to win. (By the way, if Avery Johnson is such a great coach, why can't he teach Jason Terry or Devin Harris how the hell to at least slow Baron Davis?) [Props to Don Nelson for pulling Avery's pants down, by the way.]

-I maintain my prediction for Magic/Pistons: the Magic will take one at home. Dwight Howard is a big disappointment in this series; I hope that he's okay. The only really notable thing about this series other than Detroit's methodical offense is the enjoyment that I (and I imagine many) get from watching Grant Hill continue to outplay everyone on the Pistons. (Also, why isn't anybody questioning Flip Saunders? His team got better, the East got worse, and he's more than 10 wins worse this year than last. Isn't that a bad thing? It's just like a Minnesota situation; the guy takes a good thing and ruins it with adequate, montonous, disorganized coaching. Has any coach ever had the luck with teams that Flip Saunders has? I doubt it.)

-Kobe is really going to lose credibility if the Lakers get swept. I have a funny feeling they will. They only have an advantage at one position, and that advantage is held by a player who is screwing up his entire team. Kobe bears an uncanny similarity to the Wilt Chamberlain that is personified in John Taylor's The Rivalry; a complex soul ultimately undone by his own lack of self-confidence. The Lakers had the look of a decent team halfway through this season, and it seems like Kobe's search for his own legacy has changed the team for the worse. Kobe is now on the path to tarnishing his legacy even more by destabilizing a team that could have contended. If only Kevin Garnett had that luxury.

-Lebron is better than all the Wizards combined. That about sums that series up.

-I wrote about a month ago that at the end of the season everyone would realize the Nuggets have the best starting lineup in the NBA [and that they would take the Lakers' six seed]. They won eight of their last ten and just beat the Spurs in San Antonio. Every writer seems to be taking the "I didn't forget about the Spurs" angle, but the fact is that three of their four marquee players (Duncan, Manu, and Finley) have been declining and that their best (cheap shot) defender [Bruce Bowen] is now essentially irrelevant. They play great basketball as a team and I doubt they'll go quietly, but I do think they'll go. (The one x-factor here could be Brent Barry...I don't know why, but I feel like he could be the random guy on a well-coached team that makes a difference.)

-I am and have been very high on the Raptors, but them drawing the Nets could be devastating. The Raps will have to work really hard to overcome a huge disadvantage at PG (always a serious problem in the playoffs), and there are two guys on the Nets (Carter and Jefferson) who are more athletic than anybody on the Raptors. This whole series will come down to making shots for the Raps, because if they can do that, they're golden. The problem is, the Nets are capable of great perimeter defense, and if Bosh doesn't make them pay for not doubling him, the Nets will hold the Raps. The dinasaurs shot 41% in game 1. That won't cut it.

-If you've been reading this blog at all, you know I think the Rockets will win the finals. If you haven't been reading...now you know. They're the ultimate playoff team! Superstar, gigantic center, and a bunch of defenders...what could be better? There was a joking comment on ESPN today that said, in effect: "Mehmet Okur just doesn't have it all there. What, is Chuck Hayes to tough for him?" The answer is yes, Chuck Hayes is too tough for him. So are the rest of the Rockets. Shane Battier (though I may dislike him) is tough. Rafer Alston is tough. They're all tough, and they know their roles, and they're fine with what they're doing, because they play with for a great coach and they know they have a chance to win. I love this team.

-I think the Heat/Bulls series is the only one that will go seven games, and I think the Heat are going to win it. It's just hard to win a seven-game series against a team with Shaquille O'Neal on it. Even if they do win, it'll be a war that might drain them of the energy they need to win in the second round.

-God, I love the NBA playoffs.

That's all I've got. As always, e-mail me at dontgiveupthebasketballblog@gmail.com


MattG21 said...

You wondered why the Piston's win total decreased this year...Could it be the departure of Ben Wallace? Plus Chauncey had a bit of an off year battling injuries and shooting woes.

All this aside, I think Flip Saunders is a shitty coach too.

Regarding Kobe and his legacy...You know, that really is all people think about (myself included). The media is guilty of constantly comparing him to Jordan (I raise my hand again), and I find it nearly impossible to believe that Kobe can escape from the comparisons -- which in turn bring criticism. Scoring 60 points a bunch of times is impressive, but it all seems too forced and contrived -- like he really is only doing it for the pure statistics and records. I'm sick of this whole "can Kobe do it himself?" bullshit-act that's been going on since Shaq went to Miami. I hated Kobe for the longest time because he was a whiner and a bit of an uncle-tom. Regardless of his talent, I truly thought he was terrible. Then I shifted my hatred towards the "I hate him but he's damn good" philosophy that resembles the Gary Sheffield love/hate affair. Starting last year I almost started liking the guy again and thought he was an amazing talent and probably the best scorer ever. But now...I can't bare it anymore. I'm sick of this soap-opera that Kobe has unequivocally bought into, and I think it has dramatically hindered his game. It makes me curious what would have happened if he never went to Colorado that fateful night. Would people still have an excuse to hate him and harbor such negative feelings toward him when he throws up an ill-advised 3-pointer? I really don't think so. This (lame) point aside, I don't think he'll ever silence the critics until he wins a championship on his own (which is never the case mind you). Even then, that's only 1 "real" title in addition to the 3 he's already won. Jordan has 6...I don't see Kobe ever being on top.

p.s. I really wouldn't be shocked to see the Warriors take the series.

JimmyValente said...

I think Kobe must have read your post before the game last night. Talk about a cool turd...

MattG21 said...

My point exactly...he gets too geared up for the "playoff stage" and he has royally sucked his last few go-arounds without Shaq. His ppg averages have actually dipped in Playoff games when you would think he'd step his game up on the bigger stage. He's put up some real stinkers in his recent playoff career.

...just another reason I'm fed up with this crap about him being the best player ever. Jordan virtually NEVER had a bad game when it mattered.

MattG21 said...

I don't think Kobe could score 15 4th quarter points on his way to 38 with the flu in the Finals...oh, and hit the game winning shot too.

JimmyValente said...

He is better than Ledell Eckles, though...