Friday, April 20, 2007

Playoffs Preview

13 Years!

Ok so the NBA Playoffs are here. Everyone seems to be glad the regular season is over and many even labeling it one of the most uninteresting campaigns ever. I cannot understand such negativity. Maybe it makes analysts feel better about themselves when they globally criticize a whole competition. As their always has been, and always will be, there were plenty of talking points throughout the season. New ball V Old ball, Amaechi being gay, Iversen to Nuggets, Knicks Nuggets "fight" etc. Their have also been some great basketball performances...Amare's comeback, Boozer's big year, Kobe's 4 games of 50+,Goldenstate's late season surge to grab a spot in the playoffs and the Mavs incredible win-loss record after losing their first four. Ok so they were all in the West. Just because the East didn't do so well, doesn't mean the regular season was disappointing. The Pistons had a great year again, Toronto's rise was a feel-good story and Cleveland, in spite of continuing criticism over its lack of chemistry on the offensive end, managed to equal last year's impressive win total of 50. There are great match-ups everywhere in the play-offs. Let's have a look at some of the more intriguing ones.

  • Miami V Chicago
I read recently that in recent play-off history the Number 5 actually wins more first round match-ups than then Number 4 seed. In this case, Miami is the number 4 seed...but Chicago actually has a far superior win-loss record. So who knows what will happen? Most are predicting Miami to go through here, due to their play-off experience. While Miami is one of my favourite teams in the league, I am not unaware of Chicago's strengths. This team can light up. One of Benny Gordon, Luol, Kirk or Nocioni could light up each night. Often more than one. This is what happens with a jump-shooting team. The fact that they get Nocioni back just gives an extra scoring threat. Then defensively, the whole unit will shut you down. Say what you want about Tyson Chandler putting up numbers similar to Big Ben at a lower salary and younger age...yo can't tell me Tyson has the effect Big Ben does on defense. Ben it just geared for defense. He was born with a gift for it. He'll just stop plays happening half-way through their conception with his positioning. The match-up he has with Shaq could definitely decide this match-up. While Wade has shown how clutch he is, everyone knows he struggles against Kirk. This could well come down to the battle of inside...the Bulls won't score much in there but if they restrict Heat's inside scoring I believe they can come out on top.

  • Rockets V Jazz
People are writing off Jazz already. While I predict Houston will go through, Jazz are no easy-beats. Sure, their end of season form has not been what they would have liked...but they still got Boozer in there. They still got Deron Williams who could decide the fate of this series if he exploits one of Houston's weaker links, Rafer Alston. I love Rafer. But dude might struggle against Deron. I hope not. While Boozer and Yao have had similarly dominating seasons, I predict T-Mac to tip the ledger in Houston's favour. He has been playing great of late. He's never made it out of the first round but I think this year he will...

  • Dallas V Warriors
Peep this match-up. Dallas dominate inside with Dampier and Diop. Ok so you got B-Diddy and Monta Ellis up against Jet and Harris. and Jackson and J-Rich versus Josh Howard. But Nellie will often play Al Harrington at center. Shit, can't play Dampier and Diop on him. Um...inside dominance reduced...luckily Dallas have Dirk spare to help and get em through this tricky match-up.

  • Raptors V Nets
Nets have experience. However, Chris Bosh is ready to show the world what he can do in the playoffs. Theres gonna be a bit of mismatch inside, to be honest. I expect Bosh to dominate this series. And I expect the Raps to go to Round 2.

  • Suns V Lakers
Cool. Rematch. Should be dope to watch. But Lakers got no chance this time...Amare is back so that settles that.

  • Spurs V Nuggets
Here I can see an upset happening. Denver are in fine form. Sure, Spurs have experience. But man, its not just Carmelo and Iversen clicking...its the whole team. Camby is fit...which is a scary sight. Nene has become a beast. Those two could be a handful around the rim for the Spurs. Tim can't do everything down there. Its no secret Tony Parker will want to drive in on Steve Blake...he'll have to remember Camby is waiting in the key. He'll have to dish it out. And if the Spurs can light up from outside, which is a possibility as the Nuggets exterior defense is pretty lackluster...then you'd back the Spurs.

All that's left so say is, "Will you be watching when..."

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