Friday, April 20, 2007

NBA Playoffs: Adam's Picks

There is going to be a lot more commentary coming in the days (more like hours) ahead, but for now I just need to get these picks up before the image of Tracy McGrady hitting twisting threes fades from my mind. Or maybe I should let that image fade first?

Either way, I am going to throw these picks up while I'm on a Rocket high. And since a piping hot deep dish pizza is on its way (from Lou Malnati's, the best Chicago style pizza around), I am going to list them Jack Wang style, although I proabably won't be able to resist a sentance or two of commentary. Hey, I'm long winded like that.

Eastern Conference

(1) Detroit over (8) Orlando in 5 (The Pistons never sweep, no matter how bad the opponent. See: 2005 against Philly, 2006 against Milwaukee)

(5) Chicago over (4) Miami in 6 (I was set to take the Heat until people started going way overboard with this "Chicago lost the #2 seed and are now done" angle. The Bulls may not have a lowpost scorer, but they are a good team. And you know what? While playing the Wizards in the first round would have been nice, I think they match up better with Detroit in Round Two than they do with Toronto or Jersey. So there)

(6) New Jersey over (3) Toronto in 6 (Another tough one; I really want to take the Raps, especially after being enthralled by them a few weeks ago, but the Nets played REALLY well the last two weeks and seem to be getting a second wind)

(2) Cleveland over (7) Washington in 4 (Even a team that hits cold spells like Cleveland can still sweep this group that has been - in the words of Silky Johnson - "bombed out and depleted")

In the second round I've got:

Chicago over Detroit in 6 (as good as McDyess has been, Tyrus Thomas has been emerging at even faster rate. Everyone picking the Pistons to reach the Finals must be forgetting that Flip Saunders is their coach)

Ceveland over New Jersey in 7 (I actually think the Nets are the better team, but they have a tougher road to get here and no real answer for LeBron given how dinged up Jefferson looks, how slow Nachbar is, and how bad Carter is at guarding people)


Cleveland over Chicago in 7 (it is funny; everyone thinks that the biggest problem with the Bulls losing the #2 seed to Cleveland is the seeding issue, but it could burn them if a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals is played in the Mistake by the Lake)

Western Conference

(1) Dallas over (8) Golden State in 5 (my buddy Josh Stump watched the Warriors beat Portland to reach the playoffs and came away convinced they can't handle Dallas due to their defensive issues. I've been looking for a way to push against this ridiculous GSW upset bandwagon, so this comes as good news)

(5) Houston over (4) Utah in 7 (you probably know by now that I'm taking the Rockets all the way, but one of the many reasons I'm worried is that people are sleeping on Utah)

(3) San Antonio over (6) Denver in 5 (the team that gets the most favorable officiating against the team that gets hosed like they are the Washington Generals; it won't be pretty - and no, I won't stop harping on this point either)

(2) Phoenix over (7) L.A. Lakers in 5 (the Suns are much better than they were last year and the Lakers are much worse, so this shouldn't be another epic seven-game series)

In the second round:

Houston over Dallas in 6 (expect a reprisal of the glorious Dallas-Houston series from 2005, except this time it is T-Mac and Co. coming out on top thanks to improved team speed)

San Antonio over Phoenix in 6 (no matter how many ways I look at this, I just don't see how Phoenix can beat the Spurs. It kills me, it really does. Maybe the Nuggets can find a way to save us all in round one ...)

Houston over San Antonio in 7 (this is bold and probably stupid, but I think the Rockets can take down San Antonio. Houston is younger, is just as good defensively, and has two of the three best players on the floor. More on this in an upcoming post ...)

For my world champ, I've got:

Houston over Cleveland in 7 (Home court advantage helps the Rockets here, as does the fact that Rafer Alston holds the point guard advantage for the first time since he was going by the name Skip To My Lou and hearing "there he goes! there he goes! Ohhhhhhhh" on drives to the basket)

(Note: I realize this sounds crazy, but when there are only three "great" teams in the entire league and two of them play each other in the second round, anything can happen. Plus, Cleveland and Houston are both 50-win teams, have superstars built for this era of no hand checking, can get low post scoring, and boast strong defenses. Plus ... Okay, yeah, it is crazy.)


Jeff said...

I feel compelled to drop my picks on here, too. You'll find them touched with a dose of wishful thinking in the East, contrasted with the sobering and unexciting reality coming out of the West.

Eastern Conference, First Round:

Pistons over Magic in 5 - Detroit is a better team all around here, but Dwight Howard will dominate game 3 to save face for Orlando.

Bulls over Heat in 7 - The Bulls are better than they've been getting credit for being. They play stifling D, hit shots consistently, and bring a lot of hustle. As long as Tyrus is seeing more time than PJ Brown, they can overcome their dismal performance on Wednesday to topple the defending champions.

Cavs over Wizards in 4 - Somebody needs to write an article, using comparative analysis, about how the current Washington squad (without Arenas and Caron Butler) is the worst playoff team ever. I'd do it myself, but 1) a subject like that doesn't inspire me, and 2) I'm not a writer. But someone else should do it.

Nets over Raptors in 7 - This one is so hard to pick. On one hand, Toronto does not get the credit it deserves for being the fundamentally strong, cohesive team it is, probably because of a lack of name recognition and the fact that they play in Canada. Choosing them would also almost be an upset. However, the Nets looked so good in annihilating the Bulls Wednesday night that I can't pick against them right now.

Round Two:

Bulls over Pistons in 7 - OK, really, I think the Pistons would win, especially if the series goes 7 and they play at home. But as I said above, the Bulls are better than they're given credit for, and the Pistons aren't the same team as in the past without Big Ben. This series will hinge on the matchup of Ben Gordon and Rip Hamilton. I give the edge to the Bulls because I'm a homer.

Cavs over Nets in 7 - Another tough one to pick. This series will depend on the play of Richard Jefferson; if he can D up LeBron, the Nets can win. However, Jefferson doesn't look like he's fully recovered from his injury of last year, and seems a step slow. That will make the difference as the Cavs advance.

Bulls over Cavs in 6 - The Bulls have enough physical and athletic defenders to throw at LeBron (Luol Deng, Andres Nocioni, Thabo Sefolosha). If they can frustrate LeBron, the Cavs really have nobody else to go to.

Jeff said...

Western Conference

Round One:

Mavs over Warriors in 6 - I know the Warriors swept the Mavs this season, but I just can't see the Mavs dropping the ball on this one; Avery Johnson won't let it happen. The Warriors will fight tooth and nail, though, and tire the Mavs down a bit for round two.

Rockets over Jazz in 5 - I know that the Jazz are, somehow, a pretty good team. I just can't see them shutting down T-Mac and Yao.

Suns over Lakers in 5 - A rematch of an entertaining series last year. However, with Amare healthy, the Suns look better, while the Lakers faded down the stretch and tried their damnedest to fall out of the playoffs.

Spurs over Nuggets in 5 - Everyone is hyping up the upset possibility here. Allen Iverson gives the Nuggets hope, but not a chance. The Spurs are too good, they've been resting their stars and flying under the radar this year. They've perfected the process and won't slip up here.

Round Two

Mavs over Rockets in 7 - The Rockets are a much improved team this year, but I still feel the Mavs are just a little bit better. Josh Howard and his underrated defensive ability will dog T-Mac, and the home court advantage will prove the difference-maker for the Mavs in Game 7.

Spurs over Suns in 6 - The Spurs somehow seem capable of slowing down the Suns and making the Suns play their game. And they've also shown the ability to run a bit and keep up with the Suns. This will be a fun series to watch, but the Spurs will impose their tempo on the Suns and prevail.

Conference championships

Spurs over Mavs in 6 - The Spurs are better-rested than last year, and aren't afraid of playing in Dallas. The Mavs are better than last year, but I still feel the Spurs have stayed quiet for a reason this year but showed their dominance in the second half of the season and will prove here that they're still the team to beat in the Western Conference (and thus the NBA).

NBA Finals

Spurs over Bulls in 5 - It hurts me to make this prediction, another Chicago team losing in the championships this year (Bears were first). But this will be the end of the line for the Bulls' impressive run. I hate to sound like a broken record, but the Spurs are just too good for a letdown here. The Bulls can steal one at home, but that's about it. I'm not as much of a Spurs hater as Adam, but it would be nice to see someone else emerge as the NBA's elite team. Sigh.

Tucky said...

I want to rip your Houston pick, but kind of respect someone willing to go out on a limb. That said, do you really think they can beat the Mavs, let alone the Spurs? How do you figure that? You said there would be more on this, so maybe you already plan on addressing this.

Josh Stump said...

You're buddy Josh isn't looking to smart after GS put a beat down on Dallas yesterday. I was shocked. The thing is that I watched that game and found myself wondering why the team with the best record in the West, changed their lineup and their style to try to hang with the 8th seed? Is Nellie that far into Avery's head? i mean, Dallas tried playing at a frenetic almost paniced pace from the beginning. Why on earth would they do that? Why did Dirk never even sniff the low block despite an enormous advantage? Why not slow it down? why not release the guards to stop the constant fast break of the Warriors? Why? Why? Why? (insert Nancy Kerigan voice for effect).

I still think Dallas is going to win once they find out that GS guards the rim like an NBA groupie guards her virginity.