Friday, April 30

NBA Playoffs Pseudo-Analysis: Conference Semifinals

Let's just say that I'm glad I wasn't in Las Vegas when I made my first-round picks of this year's NBA tournament. In my defense, I admitted that I didn't have a good handle on the highly-competitive Western Conference, and some of my mistakes in the East were pure hate-bias against the C's and Magick. Let's review:

My pick: Cavs in 5
Actual: Cavs in 5. Boo-ya!

My pick: Magic in 7
Actual: Magic in 4. How did Charlotte not win a single game here?

My pick: Hawks in 5
Actual: (Probably) Hawks in 7. Gotta be impressed with what the Buckos did this season though.

My pick: Cetics in 7
Actual: Celtics in 5. I should have nailed this one; I called the Heat "the worst team from the bottom of the Eastern Conference pool" and then somehow picked this to go 7. Hey, at least I got all four East winners right.

My pick: Lakers in 5
Actual: Lakers in 6. Gotta box out.

My pick: Mavs in 6
Actual: Spurs in 6. I wish I had a photo of myself making this pick so I could post it and write FAIL in big red letters over it. Classic case of looking at the seedings too much instead of the teams. The Spurs don't lose series like this while the Mavs have made a career of it.

My pick: Suns in 7
Actual: Suns in 6. I woulda had this right if I knew Brandon Roy was hurt.

My pick: Nuggets in 7
Actual: Jazz in 6. I still hate Carlos Boozer.

Eastern Conference Semifinals

(1)Your...Cleveland Cavaliers! vs (4)Boston Celtics

Before we get to the series at hand (which the Cavs now lead 1-0 as I work on this inserted paragraph), it seems LeBron James has now won his second-straight NBA MVP Trophy. No surprise. I figure maybe one or two goobers will make the wrong choice, as Tim Povtak expressed his intention to do in this incredibly moronic article that I will link to in perpetuity, but I wonder how close to unanimous it will turn out to be. I've said it once, I'll say it again: anyone who votes for a player other than LeBron for MVP this year shouldn't ever get to vote again. On anything.

I posted some of my thoughts on this series earlier in the week, particularly the perception that the C's are on some unstoppable roll headed into this series while the Cavs are in disarray, even though the two clubs posted nearly-identical 4-1 Round 1 victories and Boston's opponent was weaker.

We're taking these guys down this year, and we're doing it in the Garden.

Cavs in 6

(2)Orlando Magic vs (3) Atlanta Hawks

Goodness do I ever hate the Magic. Their draw in the East this year is basically Cleveland circa 2007, first against a Charlotte team that can't score and a Hawks club that apparently isn't ready for prime time yet. This shouldn't be super-difficult for the Magic, who have been on an absolute tear of late. As a side note, I'll take them in 5 if Milwaukee springs the upset Sunday. They have no answer for Dewey Howard, regardless of how poorly he continues to grasp the rules of basketball.

Sadly, Orlando looks to be as strong as last year, provided Vince Carter continues to show up, which actually probably won't happen. It's basically the same club, except with Jameer Nelson playing outstanding point guard and without Hedo Turkoglu's horrible half-smile and late-game heroics. Provided my picks for this round pan out, this is going to be a rough Conference Final. But first things first:

Magic in 6

Western Conference Semifinals

(1)LA Lakers vs (5)Utah Jazz

As much contempt as I have for the Jazz, I think they might be able to spring this upset. And I'm none too fond of LA either.

There are objective reasons for believing that Utah can win, as well. LA's Andrew Bynum is ailing, as usual. Utah's Deron Williams is playing at an extremely high level, making Utah's offense remarkably efficient. Utah posted a better point differential (+5.3) than LA during the regular season (+4.7) and is brimming with confidence while the Lakers are questioning themselves just a bit after struggling to knock out OKC. The only reason I'm hedging on this is that both teams are extremely hard to beat at home, and LA enjoys the home-court advantage. I don't care.

Jazz in 6

(3)Phoenix Suns vs (7)San Antonio Spurs

Have you ever noticed how little turnover there is year-to-year in the NBA? It's almost as bad as MLB in that department. Seriously, look at the Final 4 in each Conference and it's the same teams it was every other year. I'm just glad my team is one of the chosen few.

Phoenix has to be thinking, oh no, not these guys again. This is one of those matchups like Browns-Steelers and Cavs-Wizards where one team just always gets the better of the other, sometimes in ridiculous and/or heartbreaking fashion. The Spurs have knocked Phoenix frm the draw four times in the past seven seasons, including the horrible, suspension of Amar'e Stoudemire and Boris Diaw in 2007 and Tim Duncan's preposterous game-tying three (he made none ALL SEASON that year AND the next) in Game 1 of the 2008 meeting. No stranger to difficult losses myself, I empathize with my Phoenix friends.

Nevertheless, every time I pick against the Spurs it burns me. Couple that with the well-established history between the clubs and mounds of evidence that San Antonio's brand of basketball works better in the postseason than Phoenix's, and I'm afraid I'll be taking the Texans here. I wouldn't be surprised to see them emerges from the West, for that matter.

Spurs in 7

1 comment:

Figgs said...

Cavs in 6.
Magic in 5 over whoever they play.
Lakers in 6.
Spurs in 5.

Tight one last night, but I think we're in good shape. I'm down with your thought of winning it in Boston.

The Hawks are all show, they can't come close to hanging with Orlando, if they even get past the deer.

You're really picking the Jazz? Not a chance.

I said going in to the playoffs that I would take the Spurs over the Suns, Jazz or Nuggs, I just didn't like their matchup against the Mavs. They showed me, and I stand by me original thought.