May 3, 2010
Playoffs 2nd Round: On to the next one...
The first round of the NBA Playoffs is over, and not without its share of surprises. When the dust settled, six of the eight teams that I predicted to make it through have done so - we had to wait till the Hawks beat off the Bucks in Game 7 a few hours ago to officially get all the matchups, and even though a few second round games have already been played, it's not too late for a preview...
But first, a short recap of that crazy first round. Cavs did what they had to do against the Bulls, getting by them in five easy games. LeBron - your repeat MVP LeBron - was amazing as usual, making the victories and the strain on his elbow look easy. Speaking of LeBron's Elbow, I may have found the greatest twitter account to follow of all time... @LeBronsElbow.
Back to the first round. Magic slept their way through the Bobcats series. You know a team is dangerous when they barely perform and the biggest story is their star player's foul troubles and they STILL sweep a series.
Hawks-Bucks was surprisingly close and exciting. Congrats to the undermanned Bucks for making a series out of it, but the Hawks finally woke up in the last two games and got their shit together.
Celtics-Heat was a much closer 4-1 than it looked. Even an old, tired, and uninspired Celtic squad is too good for the Heat. No one but Wade showed up for Miami in the series and it was sad. After blowing the large Game 1 lead to lose the game, Heat were blown out in Game 2, daggered by Paul Pierce at the last second in Game 3, and handed a routine loss in Game 5. Only Wade's 46 point heroics saved the sweep. Celtics are an underrated fourth seed, and they finally played how we have been expecting them to play all season.
Aah... the poor Thunder... I read somewhere last week that it's impossible to hate the Thunder, unless you're from Seattle or currently, a Laker fan. The young team played well all season to make the playoffs and then be baptised by fire, by none other than the Champion Lakers. But it was an amazing series - LA took it in 6 games, but not before Durant, Westbrook, Green, Harden, and the rest gave Kobe/Gasol hell. Artest made things a little difficult for Durant, and Kobe had to step up defensively against Westbrook, and it made for a great series. Too bad it had to end in such a tragic way as it did, with Gasol hitting the game winner and killing Thunder dreams at the Game 6 buzzer. But this young team will be back, and they'll be more dangerous next season. After the series, Kobe actually hugged Durant and Westbrook and said: "You all are two bad mother[fathers] … . I’m glad I’m done with you."
How about those Spurs eh? Are they ever going to go away. Just when you think Tony Parker isn't good enough, they find a George Hill. Just when they lose their hustle edge, they get DeJuan Blair. You hate them because you can't stop them, and because they geniunely look too mechanically boring to be stopped. Like Robocop. And the Mavs, even after their best squad ever, continue to be chokers of mammoth proportions. Sorry, Dirk.
Suns-Blazers was another series more competitive than expected. Blazers won a game without their best player Brandon Roy, and then another one with him struggling with injury. Still, when the Suns won, they won huge, blowing out all four victories. And Nash didn't need to be super brilliant or Amar'''e super dominant either - this was really Jason Richardon's series. And of course, congrats to my main main Grant Hill, who has made it out of the first round for the first time in his troubled but awesome career.
Finally, the Jazz pulled an "upset" over the Nuggets which wasn't really one. Nuggs have been reeling ever since losing coach/players to injury, and this was just a bad match-up to them. Plus, Deron Williams is another bad motherfather.
The second round match-ups are now set. Here are my previews...
Cavaliers vs. Celtics: Cavs in 7 - This is going to be an epic, epic series. I know it. LeBron, LeBron's elbow, Shaq, Jamison, Mo Williams first dunk ever, going against the rejuvenated Big 3 of the Celtics, and the "biggest" one outside the three in Rajon Rondo. Ya I said it, Rondo is gonna be the biggest Celtic in this series. His matchup against Mo will be the pivotal one. The Cavs have already won Game 1 as of writing this, but the Celtics will be back. They always are. It will go to 7 and require superhuman efforts from the MVP for the Celts to move on to the conference finals.
Magic vs. Hawks: Magic in 5 - Magic is too good for the Hawks here. The challenge of Jamal Crawford/Joe Johnson will finally wake up Vince Carter and he'll help Dwight make mincemeat out of the Hawks in this series. Plus Dwight Howard will be dominant as usual.
Lakers vs. Jazz: Lakers in 6 - Jazz always play tough, and they'll continue it in this series. It took late game heroics from Kobe for Lakers to win Game 1, but I see this series going to 6. Gasol vs. Boozer is critical here - when Gasol gets 20 and 10, Lakers win.
Suns vs. Spurs: Suns in 7 - If the Spurs are like Robocop, then the Suns the Transformers. Yes, I feel that a Sun victory is finally going to happen. The Suns have figured out the right amount of defense to play so that it doesn't hinder their offensive flow. It's gonna be a long, brutal, tiring series. People will be ejected, suspended, refs blamed. Duncan will try and smile and then change his mind. Ginobili will flop and Amar'''e will not play D. But in the end, Steve Nash will go buck wild on his shooting spree and help Phoenix through...
On to the next one..!