Thursday, April 20, 2006

Get Your Playoff Picks!


The spring is always a crazy time of the year for predictions. March Madness, the start of the baseball season, and the NBA playoffs all hit in rapid succession. And if you are one of the 18 remaining hockey fans, well, you have the NHL playoffs to contend with as well. Why I mentioning this? Because normally I write a fantastic, hilarious, and insightful column detailing my NBA playoff predictions, but this year, I am tired of making picks. It doesn't mean I won't do it, just that I am going to take less time and throw them here on the blog. Read on for the picks from the Insider Bloggers.

8 comments:

Adam Hoff said...

Western Conference:

First Round -

Spurs over Kings in 7. I think this is going to be a fantastic series. A few things the Kings have going for them: 1) There is really no one for Bruce Bowen to guard, 2) Ron Artest is going to crush Manu's soul, 3) Mike Bibby is a better clutch shooter than Tony Parker. On the flip side, none of the Kings big men (Miller, Thomas, Abdur-Rahim) can guard even an injured Duncan, so unless Artest proves himself to be a super human defender, the combination of TD and home court will lift the Spurs to a grueling victory.

L.A. Lakers over Phoenix Suns in 6. I know this is a bit of a crazy pick, but hear me out. Last year the Suns won in the playoffs because even when every posession because important, they just ran the pick and roll with Amare and dunked all game. Either that, or they ran iso plays for Joe Johnson. While Phoenix has been incredible winning as many games as they have this year, it is even more a case of regular season ball versus playoff basketball. Now there is no Amare and no Joe Johnson. When play slows down and more fouls are called and timeouts are used more frequently ... will the Suns get enough from the set offense? Not only that, but Diaw - critical to Phoenix's chances - has no playoff experience. Throw in the Kobe/Phil factor and I think this could be a tough one for the Suns. (The only thing that makes me nervous about picking this is that the Suns have been playing possum a little bit down the stretch, making this a "popular" upset pick.)

Denver Nuggets over Los Angeles Clippers in 6. Everyone loves the Clips, but Denver matches up well with them and has Melo, the most dangerous player in this series.

Dallas Mavericks over Memphis Grizzlies in 6. Boring.

Second Round -

Dallas over San Antonio in 6. I liked what I saw in their final meeting of the year, when Dirk refused to be pushed around and carried the Mavs to victory on the road. More than that, I think the Spurs are going to be battered and bruised after the Kings series.

Denver over L.A. in 7 - I fear the Lakers in the West because they have the best player in the Conference (probably in the game) and the best coach. The injury to Mihm allowed Kwame Brown to not suck for the first time ever and now they have a legitimately decent front line to pair with Kobe. However, Denver has a bunch of guys they can throw at Bryant to wear him down (Buckner, Johnson, Patterson), so I think that they can hang on, particulary wiith home court advantage.

Western Conference Finals -

Dallas over Denver in 5. Mavericks are too good for the Nuggets.

Adam Hoff said...

Eastern Conference:

I don't think the East is nearly as interesting as the West. When you consider that the winner of the Clippers-Nuggets series has a legit chance to make the finals and that the 7th (Lakers) and 8th (Kings) seeds are both good enough to win multiple series, you know it could be a crazy playoff stretch. However, the East doesn't feel quite so alive with possibility. It's just going to be the Pistons over the Heat, right? I mean, what is the point.

First Round -

Detroit over Milwaukee in 5.

Miami over Chicago in 6. I will give the Bulls a few wins because I think they play harder. The real storyline here is that Shaq always seems to injure his ankle when he plays against Othella Harrington. Maybe Riley should just bench him for the whole series, just to be sure.

Indiana over New Jersey in 7. I am conflicted here. On the one hand, I think the Nets suck. On the other hand, I think this could be the year that Vince Carter goes for 45 a game in the first round. Tough call. Either way, I am going with the Pacers because I believe Jermaine O'Neal wants to win more than any other player in the league right now. Indiana needs this series, badly.

Washington over Cleveland in 6. I hope the Cavs win, because I am officially in love with LeBron, but I can just see it going the other way. People love to rip James for all the things he hasn't done, so losing in the first round will give them ammunition for the offseason. The Wizards have more experience, they have a star that can duel with James in Arenas, and they have the third-best player on the court in Caron Butler. Plus, Jamison can score in bunches. The only way the Cavs win is if LeBron plays point full time and Anderson however-you-spell-his-last-name plays big minutes.

Second round -

Detroit over Washington in 5. Yawn.

Miami over Indiana in 7. The Pacers nerely salvage the season, but Wade is too much. Plus, Stephen Jackson is due for a meltdown.

Conference Final -

Pistons over Heat in 7. As Yogi Berra would say, "It's deja vu all over again." No injuries bailing out Detroit this time though, they are just better. I think here is where the "Atoine Walker Factor" will take control ... as in, no team with Antoine Walker is going to the Finals.

NBA Finals -

Pistons over Mavs in 5. I think Detroit is the best team, I want them to win it all to spite Larry Brown, and it is hard to imagine any team beating them in a seven-game series. It is a little boring, but I don't see any other way on this one.

Jack Wang said...

West:
Round 1
Spurs v. Kings: Spurs in 6. This will be a really close series, but as Hoff said, the Kings have no one to stop Duncan.

Suns v. Lakers: Suns in 7. I wanted to take the Lakers because they're my team, but I can't see it. That said, Kobe will carry them to three wins himself and average 40/game. But the Suns will double and triple-team him, forcing him to pass the ball to a wide open Sasha Vujacic (who?) for a three to win game 7, and Sasha will not know what to do with this, round, dimpled, bouncey object he has not seen all year.

Nuggets v. Clippers: Clippers in 7. I'm on the Clippers bandwagon this year. Because of all their injuries, they have more depth than people realize. And with Sam Cassell from Nephcon 5 keeping the team together down the stretch, this team will exploit the Nuggets' lack of a legitimate three-point threat and will make it hard for them to score in the slower half-court game. Carmelo will shine, but Clippers will win.

Mavs. v. Grizzlies: Mavs in 5
Mavs will lose a game when Avery Johnson decides to run the offense through Desagana Diop for a game, just for kicks.

Semis

Spurs v. Mavs: Mavs in 7. The Mavs are a better defensive team than ever. Howard, Daniels, Diop, and Dampier (I can't believe I'm complimenting Dampier) will slow down Duncan and Ginobili, and Parker will remember that he can't hit a jumper. It won't be as easy getting to the rim in the playoffs, will it Frenchieboy? Plus, how bad can Parker want to win anymore, knowing that he can go home to Eva, win or lose? Hard fought series, but Mavs will pull it out.

Clippers v. Suns: Clippers in 6. Keep it going Clips! The Suns, tired from the Lakers series, will not have the energy or half-court defense to stop Brand. Cassell is seen inserting an glowing energy rock into his chest.

Conf. Finals:
Mavs v. Clippers: Mavs in 6. You've had a fine run, Clips, but the boat docks here. Mavs are too good.

East:

Round 1
Pistons v. Bucks: Pistons in 4. Wake me when this ends.

Heat v. Bulls: Heat in 6. Throughout this series, Shaq will continue to lose weight, and Sweetney will continue to find it. By game 5, the Bulls will get called for too many men on the floor just for putting Sweetney in the game. The Bulls will scrap to a couple of wins, but Shaq and Dwayne are too much.

Nets v. Pacers: Pacers in 7. The Pacers will get it together for this series. Peja will drop threes like they're hot, and O'Neal will put a hurting on Nenad. The Nets' perimeter game is just not good enough to win a grind-it-out series against a Carlisle team. If O'Neal can avoid turning the ball over (like he did 9 times in the last game of the year, costing me a places in a rotisserie league), the Pacers will pull it out. Is it just me, or does Jermaine O'Neal have the largest head this side of Barry Bonds? You could park a tractor between his cornrows.

Cavs v. Wizards: Cavs in 6. King James and "All-in" Arenas will be fun to watch, but no one wants to wake up with the King at home for the second round.

Semis
Pistons v. Cavs: Pistons in 5. Pistons are good. Real good.

Heat v. Pacers: Heat in 6. Shaq and Dwayne, Dwayne and Shaq. I can see at least eight fights will break out in this series, all of them involving Alonzo Mourning. Charles Oakley runs out of the stands to participate in one of them.

Conf. Finals
Pistons v. Heat: Pistons in 6
Really, I think the Pistons have a shot to win in 5 in this series too, but I don't want to underestimate the competitiveness of Wade. I mean, the guy falls up seven times and gets up eight.
But it will be a hard-fought series, fun to watch, and probably get higher ratings than the finals.

Finals
Pistons v. Mavs: Pistons on 6. Pistons are good. Real good.

Jack Wang said...

I thought about that Dwayne Wade commercial a little more, where he falls down 7 times and gets up 8. It doesn't really make sense. I mean, if he gets up each time he falls down, then the eighth time he gets up, he hasn't fallen down yet. Unless he starts on the ground, so before he does anything, he has to get up first. Which is weird. I guess Wade is just THAT determined that he can get up twice from one fall. If that's the case, maybe the Heat will beat the Pistons after all.

Jeff Dritz said...

I heard Wade gives 110% every game. This also seems illogical. Maybe he makes up 10% of the effort Antoine Walker doesn't give (on the defensive end, obviously).

My picks coming later this evening.

Jeff Dritz said...

West:

Round 1:

Spurs over Kings in 5.
Man, is everyone down on the Spurs. Everyone harps on the potential negatives, such as Duncan's injury, but people forget that despite this, they set a franchise record for wins, and Tony Parker seems vastly improved. Plus, you've got Ron Artest covering Manu, the biggest flopper in the game. For an entire series. By game 4, Ron loses it after a crucial foul call, and when all is said and done, Crazy Ron ends up signing "TruWarier" on Joey Crawford's ref jersey. In Manu's blood. Spurs in 5, Artest gets 4-6, with time off for good behavior.

Suns over Lakers in 5.
Yes, I know, Kobe has been incredible this year. Unstoppable, even. Except not. As amazing a season as he's had, the Lakers did lose 37 games, and the only game they took from the Suns this year, Steve Nash didn't play. Usually I go with the best player, but bottom line here, the Suns are a vastly superior team. Bill Simmons took the Lakers, using reasoning that Kwame Brown and Luke Walton will make the difference. He even referred to Kwame as a young Jermaine O'Neal. I'm not even going to dignify that with a response. I know the Lakers over the Suns is a popular pick right now. This isn't the NCAA tournament here, people, these are 7-game series, and the better team will win. The better team here is the Suns, and they'll win in 5.

Clippers over Denver in 7.
The home court advantage will be the key here. And Sam Cassell. Carmelo will be money, but the Clippers are just a bit better, and game 7 is at home.

Mavs over Grizz in 5.
The Grizz are a poor man's Mavs.

Conference Semis:

Spurs over Mavs in 7.
I know, I know, the Mavs are improved this year, especially on D, and Dirk has taken it to another level. Is it possible for a 63-win team to be underrated? If so, the Spurs are it. I think the Mavs' improvements get them to a game 7, but the Spurs will hold them off.

Suns over Clippers in 6.
I know everyone wants to see the an all-LA semi, but its unlikely. The Clippers will be run down by their series with Denver, and the Suns will run all over them. They'll get a couple because Elton Brand will dominate down low, but the Suns will hang on to get to the conference finals.

Conference Finals:

Spurs over Suns in 5.
Spurs have too much for the Suns. If Dallas escapes San Antonio, they'll win. But I'm picking the Spurs until they prove me wrong.

Eastern Conference:

Detroit over Milwaukee in 4.
Darko would have seen so much garbage time in this series. Sigh.

Heat over Bulls in 5.
It hurts me to make this pick, but the Bulls just don't have the talent to hang with Wade and Shaq. I can't see them winning any on the road, and I see them splitting at home. Shaq won't be as good as he's been in the past, but he won't need to be with the likes of Luke Schensher and Michael Sweetney guarding him. By the way, can we talk about how absurd it is that the Bulls are in the playoffs with a starting frontcourt of Michael Sweetney and Malik Allen? Something needs to be done here, either in reforming the playoff process, or giving Scott Skiles some coach of the year consideration.

Nets over Pacers in 7.
Both these teams suck, and neither really deserves to make the conference semis. Whichever does will get rolled by the Heat. But, mathematically, one must advance. I'm going with the Nets because of the home court advantage, though it's hard to pick against Rick Carlisle, who does a good job of rallying his team.

Cavs over Wizards in 7.
This will be an entertaining series, but LeBron is too good, and he's shown ability recently to win games at the end. Conversely, Gilbert Arenas will have huge 1st quarters, but I'm not sure he'll always have the gas in the 4th.

Conference semis:

Pistons over Cavs in 5.
The Cavs won't win in Detroit, and will split at home. LeBron will get them one win, but Detroit is just too strong across the board.

Heat over Nets in 5.
The Nets suck. They've managed to play down recently. Dwayne Wade will tear them apart, and Krstic and Jason Collins will barely get in Shaq's way.

Eastern Conference Finals:

Pistons over Heat in 6.
The Pistons just look like too together of a team, and Shaq isn't nearly as assertive as he's been in the past. I can't imagine the Pistons losing 4 of 7 games.

NBA Finals:

Pistons over Spurs in 6.
I know this is a boring pick, but these are the two best teams in their respective conferences, and I can't see either being beat in a best-of-seven series by anyone except each other. I think the Spurs are better than they get credit for being, but still not as good as the Pistons.

Adam Hoff said...

I think Simmons is just openly stealing my stuff now. Read items 1-3 under my Spurs-Kings breakdown and then read this:

"To the Spurs, who have to be mildly terrified of the Kings in Round 1, right? Bibby has been a much better playoff performer over the years than Parker. Artest could single-handedly take Ginobili out of the series. There isn't anyone on the Kings for Bruce Bowen to shut down."

Am I crazy, or is that a complete rip?

Jeff Dritz said...

After he jacked your Big O info, too, I think you need to call him on it. On the other hand, it is possible for two people to have the same analysis on a series.

Also, Bowen will guard Artest, I presume. If being guarded by Bowen on one end and having to guard Manu the flopper on the other end for an entire series doesn't set Artest off, then we know the medication is working.