I’ll preface this all with a simple notion: playoff predictions are stupid. Much like the bracket many of you part-time gamblers filled out during March, it’s all based on luck.
I can’t predict which team is going to play angry and make it a point to win. I can’t predict which integral players will get hurt.
I can’t predict which players will fold when helping your team win truly matters more than anything else.
I can’t predict which unnecessarily stupid fouls will get called against certain teams.
I can’t predict coaches making silly rotational changes to their depth chart. Nothing. None of this.
So why do I still do it? Mainly because I feel like I have to. Here is what I’ve got:
And now, some annotations about the Wild Wild West opners:
- Yes. I was that dork that stayed up fairly late on Wednesday night watching how the West would unfold for the playoff picture. It was pretty awesome: the 4th – 8th seed are only separated by 3 games. A total of 7 games between 1st and 8th. Contrast that with the East: the difference between 1st and 8th is 20 games.
- I really like the match-ups out West: it makes for an easy winner for the East. More on that in a second.
- While I think the trendy pick in the NBA is to choose OKC over LAL, I just can’t see that happening. I don’t buy the experience argument that much in this case: no one on the Thunder knows what it’s like to be in the playoffs and to fight during every offensive and defensive possession, but, ignorance can be bliss. The reason LA will win? Not because of Kobe…Gasol and Odom and if Bynum makes a return are just WAY TOO much for the OKC big men. Way too. Phil would be really smart to force the ball inside and run the offense from inside-out through Gasol instead of outside-in through Kobe.
- I love the way Utah is playing. This team is damn near video-game efficient on offense and their ball movement is crisp. Since Denver isn’t necessarily playing that well this last month, I have to figure that G. Karl’s return will mean a lot to the team…But I don’t think about it. Their honeymoon from last season is over. It’s time to see D-Will carry this Jazz team past the first round.
- I love the Mavs-Spurs match-up. This is my favorite in the West. For both teams, there is a lot at stake: both teams have pretty much said we are in it to win this season, and we will deal with the future when the future is here. I love that. This has to go to 7. If this series doesn’t stretch itself to 7, then we should all riot and find the conspiracy behind why this series didn’t go to 7. Dirk and Duncan against one another for 7 games? Two big finesse men that can also bang down low? Oh heck yes. A healthy and revitalized Manu should be the scariest thing for Carlisle and his coaching plan because you can’t coach against Manu. You just can’t. Spurs in 7.
- Without Brandon Roy, Nate McMillan can only do so much. Plus the Suns are freakin’ hot. Easy series.
To the East openers:
- Cavs sweep the Bulls because the Bulls blow.
- Celtics will have a non-eventful 6-game series against the Heat where the Celts will play up and down ball and give games away to the Heat. The Heat will have a few memorable games to say, “Whoa, D-Wade really is that good.” But let’s face it: D-Wade can’t say no to putting his fingerprints all over every play…which means he alone can’t beat the Celts. It’s scary that this is my reasoning for the Celtics winning this series: D-Wade will try to take over as his teammates watch and he could do this against many other teams, but the Celtics are at least good enough to ride that one out.
- Magic in 5. They’ll lose the fourth game just because, then come back to hold the Bobcats to 70 points in game 5 while they drain threes like Harry Potter drops magical spells, son.
- The Hawks-Bucks series really intrigues me. Without Bogut, no one has to fear the deer. But something about this series still makes me want to call it in 7. Jennings will outplay Bibby in almost every respect. Joe Johnson can’t carry a team every game in the series because he’s not that kind of player. The Bucks have some pretty good East European swingmen exports that are just harassively (just made that word up) annoying. The Hawks don’t do well with annoying. The Hawks are athletic, but the Bucks are gritty.
- This pretty much goes to show that the first round in the East will be a big snore-fest if the series that intrigues me the most are the Hawks and Bucks. Ugh.
Back to the West:
- Again, I don’t think the bigs on the Jazz can contain the bigs on the Lakers for a seven-game series. For a game or two, they might have a fighting chance. But remember that these series start to really expose a team’s weakness (and strengths) by game 3. The tougher, smarter team will win. In this case, that’s the Lake Show.
- I like the Suns in 7 mainly because I think the Spurs will be so beaten up after the Mavs series that Gentry and Nash and Amare will just say screw 7 seconds or less, we are going 4 seconds or less and running these seniors out the gym. Sorry, Spurs: I like your chances against most teams except the Suns. The Suns are going to run the Spurs out of the gym and they won’t have any answers. While it pains me, because I love the Spurs style and their players are solid… The Suns crazy uptempo play will be something you just can’t keep up with or stop.
- As for the Lakers and Suns in the WCF, the Suns don’t stand a chance. Unfortunately, the Lakers can play against any style you want. They’re a great half-court team that can also run. They’re tough and athletic. Lakers in 6.
Back to the East:
- Sorry, Celtics. It pains me to do this to you: Cavs in 6. And 6 is a gift. I just don’t see how we can keep up mentally or physically. We can’t win at home. We can’t protect leads. LBJ is having yet another career year. The Cavs haven’t surrounded LBJ with star players, but this is his BEST supporting cast yet. The pieces fit pretty well for you guys. I was going to make a “realistic” bracket and then a “I hope this happens bracket!” But, why go through all that Photoshop work when you know what my “I hope this happens bracket!” looks like: The Celts beating the Lake Show in 7 games in the Finals. Who cares what it took to get there: that’s my dream bracket.
- I don’t see how the Hawks can get past the Cavs. The Magic are just as athletic, but they have more weapons. It’s strange to say that I don’t think Joe Johnson can stop Vince as long as Vince isn’t being stupid (do I really have to give examples??). Dwight’s too big. Jameer is playing well.
- Cavs take down the Magic in 6. Most games will be close, but the Cavs have a major closer in the fourth, while the Magicians still have to rely on either Dwight or Vince… Both are scary to rely upon.
In the Finals…
- The Lakers will be so beat up by the June that they might as well wear orange vests, hard-hats, and lay out cones so they can pave the way for the Cavs to win the title. Nike will have a wet dream over this Finals match-up, akin to nothing like this before in its era of basketball sponsorship: the two biggest athletes going up against one another for “the only thing that matters”… One veteran trying to win a fifth title as the new mega superstar tries to win his first ring… One wears reinforced mid-tops while the other wears a stripped down low top. Sorry. That last one was stupid. Anyway. The Cavs in 6 because the Lakers will run out of steam.
- LBJ is named the Finals MVP and will the first player to be the league’s regular season MVP and Finals MVP since Tim Duncan in 2003.
- LBJ re-signs with the Cavs. Changes his number to 6. The Cavs re-design their uniforms. The Cavs pick up a great secondary player through a trade or signing. Life as we know it is over.
Before going to game 1 tonight, we’ll be making a trip to a certain store to buy some new basketball shoes. More on that later on! Then we got the Celts/Heat tonight. I love playoff basketball: time to step it up.