Playoff Bliss

First, my question is: “What the heck is wrong with Ernie’s neck on the TNT team?”  I’m not making fun, I want to know.  I hate it when something is obviously wrong and no one says anything.  I love the TNT team.  It is very interesting coverage.  I also like Tom Tolbert and Bill Walton (Ok, I do kind of make fun of him I admit.  But it’s fun).  Marv Albert is unlistenable.  I believe this probably falls under “Too Much Information.”  I know way too much about this dude.

This time of year finds me sitting/laying around with a permanent smile on my face.  I love the sport of basketball.  Unlike many others, I prefer the NBA.  I love the first round of the playoffs because there are games every single night.

Don’t get me wrong, I love March Madness as much as the next guy, but have a hard time catching very many regular season college games.

I’ve heard a consistent theme this week in discussions around town, on TV, and the radio.  Why don’t we have a NCAA single elimination NBA tournament to decide who wears the crown?

Like any good sermon, I submit the three following excellent points:

  1. No one wants to watch even one more minute of a Knicks game (this should count as two).
  2. Love the NBA or hate it, there is tradition involved with the postseason.
  3. There is a ton of money being made.  I was going to put this first, but you have to admit that the Knicks point is solid.


Back to how much of a fan I am.  I just proved it with an illustration to myself.  During a commercial in the Clippers/Nuggets game I trolled around the channel cycle. (My version of around the horn).  I came across American Chopper and Billy Joel was bossing around Paul Sr. in the garage.  Ordinarily, this reality show Twilight Zone episode would keep me glued to the tube.  At least until the next commercial break.  But I scrambled back to the game.

I am about to give you my take on this year’s playoff horizon.  I want everyone to use the bathroom before we leave because we won’t be stopping along the way.  This was written after the first round of games (not series), and I have seen the second Heat/Bulls game and am watching the second quarter of the second Clippers/Nuggets game.

Miami Heat vs. Chicago Bulls
I have a problem with this matchup.  I realize this is a flashback of battles these two teams have had in ’83 or ’93, or somewhere close to that.  I can’t do Shaq, because he’s ex-Laker and done.  I will enjoy him after he retires.  The Lake Show better not raise his jersey to the rafters while he’s still active.  It wouldn’t be right.  

Payton reminds me of the guy at the schoolyard with the big mouth because he had big brothers that no one wanted to have to deal with.  He’s best on teams that never intend on winning it all.  Preferably teams with Shaq on it.  

White Chocolate is a stupid nickname, plus doesn’t Eminem rap?  When did he start playing Bball?  Not too many leadership traits.

You have to love Dwyane Wade as the real deal, and Alonzo Mourning for his heart.  Unfortunately his body (Alonzo’s) can’t cash the checks his desire writes.

The Bulls are gritty.  I’m saying this through gritted teeth because, after all they are the Bulls (Laker logic).  They have a great future ahead of them if they stay on course.  Heinrich is a man.  He needs help.

The Heat win this matchup.  The Heat will not win the ring.  In fact, I don’t think Shaq will win another ring unless he goes to San Antonio or Detroit.  The problem with the East is that there is a Grand Canyon separating Detroit and Miami.  It should go 1. Pistons  7. Heat.  Seriously, there’s that much separation.  

Los Angeles Clippers/Denver Nuggets
I’m tired of watching Nuggets coach George Karl snarl in disgust.  It’s YOUR team, man.  Make some adjustments and do something about it.  The Nugs look like they’ve never been to the playoffs.

Carmelo, you’re not in Syracuse anymore.  This is the Bigs.  I actually heard him say this week that he was going to put the team on his back and get his teammates involved.  Aren’t those two separate things?  There’s way too much pressure on this young player.

I like Earl Boykins as the biggest (smallest) underdog in the league.  The guy has huge heart.

Ruben Patterson can be great defensively, and Marcus Camby has periods of brilliance in the downside of his career.

The Los Angeles Clippers have taken a step to the next level.  

Elton Brand is the most underestimated player in the league bar none.  

Chris Kaman is one of the bravest people in the league.  For sporting that hairdo.  He’s becoming a solid presence in the paint as well.

Cuttino Mobley looks reborn.  He’s playing out of his mind.

Sam Cassell provides solid veteran leadership.  He has scoreboard on his side.  And rings too.  He’s no Gary Payton, let me just say that.

The Clippers win this series but will not get past the Suns or Lakers in the next round.  Period.  They should be a force to reckon with for some time to come.

Washington Wizards/Cleveland Cavaliers
This matchup is fodder for the eventual beat down by the Detroit Pistons in the East.

The Wizards are a nice team that is very athletic and possess good team chemistry.  I believe they will win this matchup eventually.

LeBron James.  Forget the perennial question of who will be the next Jordan.  This manchild is truly unbelievable.  He will set the bar for unthinkable NBA standards for the future.  His game and work ethic needs to follow the path of Kevin Garnett and not the road that Vince Carter took.

Nice triple double in your first playoff appearance kid.

Memphis Grizzlies/Dallas Mavericks
Wow.  Welcome to the playoffs Griz.  Someone has to let Pau Gasol know they’ve started.  Something must be ailing him physically, for him to look so rough.  The problem the Grizzlies have is that they are very limited options wise.  It appears to actually be Gasol’s Grizzlies and that’s it.  Mike Miller is nice but, again help is needed.

With the emphasis on defense, the Mavericks present matchup problems aplenty.  How sick is a 7 footer that drains three pointers with someone in his face?

The Mavericks will take this series.  I may be crazy, but I think the Grizzlies will get at least one.

Indiana Pacers/New Jersey Nets
Again, another series that serves only to provide fresh raw meat to either the Heat or the Pistons.

The Indiana Pacers are imploding.  Who knows if any of these guys will be back next year?  Declining.  And quickly.

The New Jersey Nets’ Jason Kidd is on the backside of his zenith, Richard Jefferson is a solid player, and Vince Carter……well, he’s not the next Jordan after all.

I hate to let you kids down, but this one’s too close for this reporter to call.

Sacramento Kings/San Antonio Spurs
Spanking.  This was a surprise.

With Ron Artest going……well, Ron Artest, you have to give the second game to the Kings.  The only thing left that even resembles intrigue is whether the Kings out of desperation will play the bad boy physical card or not.

San Antonio going away on this one.  Even with Tim Duncan having problem with his game, the Spurs have too many weapons for the Kings to stave off.

Milwaukee Bucks/Detroit Pistons
The Bucks have Michael Redd and the Detroit Pistons have the 2006 championship team.  The Pistons are a textbook on chemistry and execution as a team.  They know their roles and get after them.  As long as there are no injury problems, I don’t see them getting knocked off.  Unless you believe that part about Flip Saunders not being able win the big one.

Los Angeles Lakers/Phoenix Suns
If Amare Stoudemire were in the Phoenix mix I believe we’d be in for one heck of a battle for the championship between The Suns and the Pistons.  But those are the breaks.

Steve Nash probably is the MVP of the league the second year running.  At times, he’s purely unstoppable.  He builds confidence in his teammates and distributes like a mutant.

Shawn Marion is the second most underrated player in the league after Elton Brand.

I believe the Lakers will win this in seven.  I know what you’re thinking.  I’m the biggest Laker honk, homer, (fill in the insult), etc. and you’re right.  I’ve got a funny feeling that this is where Phil will earn his money.  The first game was a great team effort.  But you know Kobe will get his.  And if his teammates remain sharp, they will get some too.  It is great to see the improvement of Lamar Odom, Kwame Brown and Luke Walton over the past two months.  I think they will win in a dogfight, be spent, and lose in the second round.

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