Before I begin expounding on the minutia of the upcoming NBA playoffs, I need to let you in on my dirty little secret:
I was the shooter on the grassy knoll.
(No, wait. Wrong secret. Let's try that again.)
I don't know anything about the NBA.
That's right. I'm embarrassed to say it, but it's true. Over the years, due to factors I'm still unclear about, my time spent at the office has greatly increased, while my time spent sitting on the couch, drinking beer and watching the NBA has precipitously dropped off. If the battle for my free time was a presidential election, the super delegates would have shifted their allegiance to the candidate endorsing hard work and a strong economy because the pro-couch/beer/basketball candidate no longer had sufficient funds to bribe them. I still have time to catch the occasional game, watch SportsCenter every once in a while and read enough online articles to make a convincing argument for who should win the MVP award -- Chris Paul narrowly edges out KG and Kobe for making Tyson Chandler an offensive force. Seriously, how do you turn a player with teeny woman hands and zero offensive moves into a 12 point per game scorer? This fact alone should guarantee him the award. -- but I simply don't have time to watch enough basketball games to make enlightened observations about the current state of the NBA.
A large part of this has to do with Fantasy Sports. I'm a big proponent of Fantasy Baseball and enjoy the bourgeois appeal of Fantasy Football, but no matter how hard I try, I can't get in to Fantasy Basketball. It just doesn't work for me. In baseball, statistics tell me that Barry Bonds gets on base every other time he steps up to the plate, hits home runs like Ike Turner hit wives and that his defensive range and base stealing abilities have developed inversely proportional to the growth of his cranium. In basketball, statistics tell me that Jason Kidd has a superb assist to turnover ratio, but they can't explain that he gets used more then a beer bong at a frat house when he tries to guard anyone with two functional legs. You can make the same argument about football statistics, but Fantasy Football isn't about statistics; Fantasy Football is what we use to explain to our girlfriends why we have to watch the Seahawks play the Ravens on Thursday Night Football instead of attending her cousins third birthday party ("I really WANT to go, honey, but it's the second week of the season and that's, like, the most important week.").
Since I don't play Fantasy Basketball, I don't spend hours and hours pouring over basketball statistics the way I do football and baseball stats. I can easily rattle off who has the lowest batting average in Major League Baseball right now -- David Ortiz at a stunning .121 -- who's leading the majors in home runs -- Carlos Pena, Derrek Lee and Mike Jacobs are all tied with 6 -- or even who led the NFL in rushing last year, -- LaDanian Tomlinson with 1474 yards -- but I can't, for the life of me, tell you anything about basketball other then LeBron James led the league in scoring with 30 points a game, and only because I heard that on ESPN radio on the drive home.
So take what I say with a grain of salt. In fact take it with a lot of salt. Get out a margarita glass, line the rim with salt and let me pour my delicious, refreshing and hilariously uninformed thoughts, musings and predictions into it for your enjoyment. Because, let's face it, my predictions can't get any worse.
2008 NBA Playoff Prognostication
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha (My response to: "Will the Hawks win a game in this series?")
I had to look on Yahoo! Sports to see who the Pistons were playing in the second round. That's embarrassing. Not for me, for the Sixers. Is there anyone who takes this team seriously? (Ok, anyone who doesn't live in Philadelphia?) Is there anyone who can name a player on the Sixers other then the Andres (Iguodala and Miller)? I'd rather watch the WNBA then watch the Pistons dismantle the Sixers. Check please.
Ummm...really? I'm not sure I could know less about either of these teams. I'll summarize my collective knowledge:
- The Magic have Dwight Howard.
- The Magic also have JBorhood favorite Hedo Turkoglu, or as my brother likes to call him, "Glu" or "Elmer" (In reference to Elmer's glue and, more importantly, the fact that he just looks like an Elmer.)
- The Raptors have two players with cool foreign names: Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon
That's it. I'm out. In lieu of any insight, I'll go with the superstar. I say Dwight Howard dominates down low and Elmer knocks down some big shots.
New year, same crappy supporting cast for LeBron James, same end result: LeBron straps the chumps on his back and single handedly wills them to victory. The Wizards are the popular pick this year, since Cleveland struggled down the stretch and the Wizards are finally at full strength, but I don't see what's different about this Washington team then the team that has lost to the LeBrons the past two years in the first round. Sorry Wizards, better luck next year.
Whenever I think of Kobe, I'm reminded of the Eminem song, "Kill You".
You don't, want to f*ck with Kobe ('Cause why?) 'Cause Kobe, will f*cking kill you
Seriously, Kobe scares me. Nobody does the Michael Jordan I'm-going-to-win-this-game-by-the-sheer-force-of-my-facial-expression better then Kobe. He looks like a man on a mission this year and there's no way he loses to Enver in first round. (By the way, that was not a typo. There's just no "D" in Denver this season.)
Speaking of crazy facial expressions, have you seen Dirk Nowitzki play lately? He's reclaimed the sneer he used to propel the Mavericks to the NBA Finals in 2006. Why is the sneer so important? Well, without the sneer, Dirk Nowitzki he looks like David Hasselhoff's sissy oafish brother. With the sneer, he looks like like Karl from Die Hard. If you're a Mavericks fan, which one of those guys would you rather have leading your team?
Now, I fully expect Chris Paul to make a mockery of the defender formerly known as Jason Kidd, but I think that in the end, the sneer will win out.
Has their even been a more exciting first round match-up on paper then Spurs/Suns? Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker vs. Shaq, Amare, and Nash. I am more excited about this series than about any series in the remainder of the playoffs (with the possible exceptions of the Kobe vs. Shaq or Chris Paul vs. Deron Williams potential match-ups in the Western Conference finals). There have been NBA Finals match ups where both teams are worse then either of these two teams, AND THIS IS THE FIRST ROUND!
I have no idea what to make of this series. San Antonio plays the best team basketball in the league, but the new-look-Suns with a revitalized Shaquille O'Neal, are a destructive force on offense and on defense. My gut tells me that the Spurs will win like they always do, but my heart desperately wants the Suns to win and vindicate Steve Kerr and his huge balls. Kerr was torn to shreds in the media for months for having the giant swinging cojones to pull of the Shaq trade and nothing short of an NBA title will get people off his back.
Here's to Steve.
Here's to the Shaq.
Here's to the Suns.
And, of course, here's to huge swinging balls.
Kudos to the Rockets for their 22 game win streak and kudos to Tracy McGrady for his (soon to be) 7 series long playoff losing streak.
Celtics over LeBrons
As LeBron proved last year, he's good enough to beat most teams all by himself, just not the great teams. I've got bad news for LeBron and Cleveland fans: The Celtics are a great team.
Pistons over Magic
I want to believe that Dwight Howard has the ability to put the Magic on his (admittedly large) back and carry them past the Pistons, ala LeBron James last year. Unfortunately, at this stage in his career, Dwight looks like a great ball player who lacks the killer instinct, more Kevin Garnett than Kobe Bryant. But he's young and maybe he just hasn't had the opportunity to prove me wrong. Here's hoping, because, as a Bulls fan, nothing makes me happier then watching someone wipe the smug, stupid, cocky grins off the faces of Chauncey, Rip and Rasheed. I hate the Pistons.
Lakers over Jazz
I'm going to conveniently sidestep the fact that I know so little about the Utah Jazz but bring up my biggest grievance with their team: Their name makes no sense! There's no Jazz in Utah. The team just kept the name when they moved from New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz! If they wanted a Utah appropriate name they should have gone with the Utah Caucasians, the Utah Polygamists or the Utah Salt Lake Aquatic Mammals (look, I understand that no animals except an extreme saliophile, and ceratinly not a mammal, could survive in the harsh climate of the Great Salt Lake, but go with me for comedy's sake).
Until the Jazz relinquish the rightful name of the New Orleans franchise, the JBorhood hereby decrees that they shall never win an NBA title.
Say hello to the Curse of the Jazz!
Suns over Mavericks
The Suns are to the Mavs what John McClain is to Karl. Sorry big fellah, but sneer or no sneer, your playoffs end here.
Celtics over Pistons
Did I mention that I hate the Pistons?
Well, with that in mind, nothing short of a Chicago Bulls run to the Finals could get me this excited about watching an Eastern Conference Finals. Not because I think the games will be exciting, but because I'm excited to watch Kevin Garnett rip Rasheed Wallace's heart out of his chest and eat it at center court. Nothing would please me more then watching the Pistons' starters sulk on the bench with towels on their head as they watch the Celtics close out a four game sweep and effectively end the Pistons stranglehold on the Eastern Conference.
Lakers over Suns
Shaq vs. Kobe with a trip to the Finals on the line. Good lord.
I would love for the Suns to win and validate Steve Kerr's moxie, but that would violate my Kobe Rule: When in doubt, pick Kobe. It's that simple. He has the abilty to take over a fourth quarter to such a degree that even my wife, who loves watching basketball with me, but doesn't know Manu Ginobli from Boris Diaw (wait, what am I saying, neither do I), when asked what the Lakers should do on any given possession, will say "Give the ball to Kobe" (In case you doubt this, I just asked her the question and the exact words out of her mouth were "Give the ball to Kobe". Ahhh, I've trained her so well.)
So, sentimentally, I love the Suns, but I can't shake the feeling that 2008 is the year of the favorite. First all #1 seeds make it to the Final Four and now the two best teams in the NBA will go at it in an NBA Finals for the ages.
Get ready for...
Celtics over Lakers
Yeah, we're gonna party like it's 1989! (Ok, ok, I realize that the Lakers met the Pistons in the '89 Finals, but if I say party like it's 1987 -- the last time the Lakers met the Celtics in the Finals -- then I completely lose the veiled reference to the Prince song. Jeez, you're a tough crowd...)
Anyway, after I spent three paragraphs explaining why it's sheer lunacy to bet against Kobe, I'm going to violate my own rule (meanwhile, my wife is shaking her head at me, saying I should "give the ball to Kobe"). The Lakers are great. Kobe is otherworldly. But the Celtics are the best team to grace the floor of the NBA in 10 years. They won their games by an average of 10.3 points per game, an average that includes the last month of the season when KG, Pierce and Allen all played vastly reduced minutes. That 10.3 points per game differential is higher then all but three teams in the moder era (and all those teams had a little someone named Michael Jordan).
Now, Kobe may go all Michael on us and take over the Finals, but short of a truly Jordan-esque performance, the Celtics are too deep, too talented and too driven to be denied. It should be a Finals match up for the ages, but I see future NBA Finals MVP Kevin Garnett finally hoisting the trophy that has eluded him all these years.
(Of course, now that I've written that, it'll probably be a Utah Jazz, Detroit Pistons Finals. But, then again, what do I know?)