Thursday, April 17, 2008

NBA First Round Preview

The NBA Playoff match ups are finally ready for consumption. If I, or anyone else, cared about the Eastern Conference until the Pistons-Celtics series, I would discuss those series as well. But I don't, and neither does anyone but the family members of the players. So here is my flawless prognostication of the first round of the Western Conference playoffs:

1 Lakers vs. 8 Nuggets: I mentioned yesterday that this is the only match up in the West that stinks. The Lakers won't roll over the Nuggets, but the Nuggets will just find ways to lose. Traveling to Denver is tough because of the altitude and that will give them an advantage at home, but considering that the only Los Angeles basketball team to win a playoff series since Shaq emigrated was the Clippers, Kobe Bryant will make sure the Lakers win this one. And Denver can't play defense, so they can't stop the one-man Bryant show. Lakers in 6 (and that is being charitable to the Nuggets).

2 Hornets vs. 7 Mavericks: This is a tricky series because the Hornets have been front-runners for a long time this year and deserve the easy first round series, but there is no easy first round series, and they have absolutely zero playoff experience anyway. On the other side, you have Jason Kidd who may or may not be really good and Dirk Nowitski who is the same, but being a European, he will fold under pressure (born too close to France). If the Mavs can get the ball out of Chris Paul's hands like they did Wednesday night, the Hornets are screwed. And that is all the series comes down to. Defend Paul, Mavs win. If not, Hornets win. No way they can keep him down for four straight. Hornets in 7. Wouldn't it be great if Byron Scott then went and reminded Jason Kidd that it was Kidd who got Scott fired from New Jersey?

3 Spurs vs. 6 Suns: Is this the best first round match up in history? No question this series goes 7 games. Shaq and the Suns have been playing better and better as their season progressed, and the Spurs have been slowed a bit in the last weeks with Manu Ginobili hurt. However, I think if you give Tim Duncan seven times to find a way to beat someone, he will do it at least four of those seven times, every time, every opponent. I do not understand why Tony Parker is not subject to the European=soft equation, but somehow he escaped. Maybe Eva's Latin fire rubbed off on him. Spurs in 7 in a spectacular series. How sad that Shaq won't go further than Kobe again.

4 Jazz vs. 5 Rockets: The Rockets avoid a nightmarish road series in Utah because of an unusual rule change from a few years ago. Despite the Jazz being the higher seed, Houston has a better record by 1 game, and thus is awarded home court for the series. Utah was 37-4 at home this year, one of the losses was to Houston (opening night - doesn't really count). However, the only reason the paper-thin Rockets are in this situation is a freakish 22-game win streak. Without the streak, they are barely over .500. Put plainly, they won't win a game on Utah, so the question is: Can the Rockets go 4-0 at home? The answer is no. Utah in 5.

For posterity's sake, I will call the Spurs over the Jazz in the West Finals and the Celts over the Spurs in the Finals.

Yesterday I experienced the worst fantasy baseball day of all time. I had five starting pitchers, but only four spots for them so I had to bench on of them or a closer (Wagner, Papelbon and Rivera). I figured the Mets would blow out the Nats, so I benched Wagner, thus assuring a save between the other two who played each other. My starters' lines: Chien-Ming Wang 4 IP-8 earned runs, Tim Hudson 3 IP-4 earned runs, C.C. Sabathia 4 IP-9 earned runs, James Shields 5 IP-6 earned runs, and John Maine 6.2 IP-2 earned runs and a win. My closers: 0 IP. And Wagner, who I benched, got a perfect inning save with 1 K. This is why I do not pay for these leagues.

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