Monday, May 04, 2009

NBA Playoff Predictions: Round Two

"Since you have flown, theres something special in the air."

I know the NBA Playoffs have already kicked off Round 2, but guess what?...I have absolutely no idea who won the Dallas/Denver series last night, so this is pretty much the best I could do in terms of a preview column before all the series begin.

Working constantly (a good thing, mind you) has really made the days all blend together, making it even more amazing to me that the Celts are playing just two days after their scrappy Game 7 victory over the Bulls at the Garden on Saturday. Give Chicago credit. They seemed to have an answer to every blow the C's could throw them. Ultimately though, what happened was that their ultimate demise was based on the fact that they had little-to-no collective playoff experience, and trying to play a veteran team on the road in a Game 7...the defending champs on the road in Game 7...well, your backs are going to be against the wall from the get-go.

What I figured would be the death-nail, and what probably actually ended up being the end, was Joakim Noah. As I have said from the moment he was drafted, Noah is purely an energy player. He feeds off of the hatred of the road fans, and off the love of the home crowd. However, when a player like this is in existence (see: John Rocker, Dennis Rodman), they will come undone in front of the road crowd. The home crowd somehow wills said players to be able to put up good numbers while also being completely mental. However, once a player begins to go mental on the road, the road fans start to feed off of that, which further pushes the player into dire psychological circumstances that they have absolutely no control over. Noah, while being much less controversial than someone like Rocker or Rodman, basically followed this formula, and fell apart in the end. Keep in mind that this started in Game 1 when Noah, who fouled Paul Pierce with .8 seconds left in regulation, nearly made this a much shorter series with one of the all-time bone-headed plays in NBA history. In another game (I want to say Game 5), he should have been called for goaltending on a 90-foot shot at the end of the half. This is the reason I threatened to disown the Celtics if they drafted Noah. I absolutely can't stand the guy...I mean I think he's a great talent, but his head is in the clouds somewhere, and he just won't be a legit star in the league ever, even though his talent would suggest otherwise.

In other news, much like the NHL, there weren't a whole lot of surprises. I think the biggest surprise, outside of how epic the C's/Bulls series became, was how Orlando nearly melted down against Philly. I have to say, when the series was 2-1 Philly with Game 4 on tap at the Wachovia Center (I think it's still called that...okay, sidenote: Is there any chance that Philly gets the name "Spectrum" back somehow? I mean Boston eventually did get "Garden" back...keep an eye out for's a feeling), I was not liking Orlando's chances. However, they fought back admirably to take the series in six.

So, I mean that was pretty much it. Nothing too drastic. Dallas beating San Antonio I guess was an upset based on seeding...but was it really an upset? To me, not so much. Anyway, here is what I'm thinking for Round Two:

Eastern Conference:

(1) Cleveland vs. (4) Atlanta:

Line: CLE -2250

The Cavs made quick work of Detroit, which was a surprise to absolutely no one. If you watched any of the games that took place at the Palace, you could just feel the crowd kind of like "we're going to lose because our GM made an idiotic salary dump...but hey, at least we get to see LeBron kick the crap out of us!" The Hawks, contrary to popular belief, are going to make this series very soon as the series goes to Atlanta. I think the Cavs will finally get some kind of adversity against them when the series shifts to Atlanta. Still though, the Cavs ultimately have home court, which is critical based on their historic home run this year. So, the Cavs win, but the Hawks do make it interesting.

Pick: Cleveland in 7

(2) Boston vs. (3) Orlando

Line: ORL -126

As I have been saying all along, I think Chicago was a tougher matchup than what the second round was potentially going to bring (although after last year, it is arguable that Atlanta would have been even tougher the second time around). I especially believe this about Orlando. Turkoglu and Lewis are both hobbling, and their injuries are turning out to be more severe than what was originally thought. They have the advantage down low, but when you look at it, Howard does not have as good of a matchup against Perk as you may be led to believe. Two things really have to happen here: 1) Eddie House needs to make an immediate impact, because he was non-existant until Game 7, and 2) We need a full-fledged mutiny against Stan Van Gundy. We had kind of a half-hearted mutiny in the Philly series...we need a Bravehart/Scotish overthrow kind of situation to happen. Oh, also, I understand that the Celts have injuries, and the Magic beat them twice without KG...but underdogged?...Really? I mean I know I basically just spelled out why they're 'dogged, but I still say the Celts have a better overall team even with the injuries to Garnett and Powe.

Pick: Boston in 5

Western Conference

(1) Los Angeles vs. (5) Houston:

Line: LA -869

I'm still kind of curious as to why people believed Utah would put up a fight against the Lakers. That was all kind of confusing, and for a little bit, I thought " this one of those times where I may have no idea what I was talking about?" (and I have a lot of those moments admittedly, as I'm sure you may have as well)...but in the end, it turned out I got that one right. So now the Rockets come in. I will say this...if the Lakers are going out, they're going out right here. With Bynum back, they're obviously a better version of last year's Finals' runners-up. Yao is going to be a mismatch for whoever is on him, and it will be interesting to see how well Fish plays against Aaron Brooks and Kyle Lowry. In the end, I think Kobe has a lot to prove against Ron Artest, and taking him out would add another notch to his already extremely impressive career.

Pick: Los Angeles in 6

(2) Denver vs. (6) Dallas

Line: DEN -170

So New Orleans kind of let me down huh? Yeah, the Hornets pulled a Bravehart on Byron Scott and just gave up on him. I wonder how much magic Chauncey has left for the Nuggets. My feeling is that betting on Chauncey is like betting on Clemson. When you bet against them, they will find a way to make you pay for it, and once you come around to betting on them, they will let you down big time. So, I'm taking my chances and going with Chauncey here, although personally, I would much rather see Dallas taking on the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.

Pick: Denver in 6

Record Last Round: 6-2

Right On The Freggin' Money: 2

So, short and to the point. Again, that's the way it's probably going to work now with my work schedule being as hectic as it is, and with MTELs coming up this weekend, there just isn't enough time to do what I really want to do here (and that's actually write a preview where I go way more in-depth than what you just read). In any event, that's my "thoughts" for this round. Again, this is the best time of the year, so enjoy yourselves. Happy Cinco de Mayo. Cheers. Peace.