I wasn’t really planning on writing an NBA Playoff preview this post-season. As most of you know, I’ve already put all my eggs in the Miami Heat’s basket (although I found tempting value in both the Lakers at +1000 and the Mavericks at +3500). But when the Knights of the Roundball Table suggested we host a Holding Court, Vol. 3: Playoff Edition, how could I resist the urge to show that I know way more, or considerably less, about hoops than my fellow web-dwellers.
So here goes nothing…
76ers (+900) vs. Bulls (-1400)
I was about to say that it’s hard to imagine the Bulls not advancing in this series. Then Derrick Rose tore his ACL in Game One. Most of us predicted a Bulls-Heat Eastern Conference Finals before the season (that almost wasn’t) even began. The early round match-ups were merely a formality. Not so much anymore. The Bulls are good enough to beat Philly without their MVP point guard, but they won’t get far past that without him. Despite Rose’s season-ending injury, I’ll still take the Bulls in seven… not that that makes Bulls fans feel any better.
Knicks (+650) vs. Heat (-900)
According to this line, Las Vegas isn’t as high on New York as everyone else. And by everyone else, I mean everyone outside of the SportsChump household. I’ve actually had knowledgeable sports fans tell me the Knicks will win this series outright. Naturally, I put them in time out. Admittedly this is not a first-round matchup the Heat wanted, but the Knicks are more of an inconvenience than any real threat, as witnessed by their 30-point blowout in Game One. It was good to see an old school, physical, Heat-Knicks battle early but New York will have to bring out shotguns to stop Miami and the last time I checked, the commissioner frowns upon such behavior. New York’s got talent but Miami’s ceiling is simply that much higher. And no, a healthy Jeremy Lin would not have made a difference. Heat in Five.
Magic (+700) vs. Pacers (-1000)
This line goes to show just how far the mighty have fallen. I know I sound like a broken record but Orlando was in the Finals only three years ago. Now they’re in complete disarray. Listing them as seven-to-one dogs to win this series, a number I actually found a little skewed, shows how much confidence Las Vegas has in them. If I had to choose one long underdog to bet in the opening round, it’d be Orlando. It’s perfectly conceivable that, with Dwight Howard out, the remaining Magic players band together to play for their coach but I’m not entirely convinced they have the talent, or the togetherness, to take down the Pacers, which means Stan Van Gundy is about ten days away from being officially unemployed. As much as I hate to say it, Indy takes this series in seven.
Hawks (+155) vs. Celtics (-175)
This should be another highly contested series. One of these days, Hawks brass will realize that they have assembled a very good team… just not a great one. And they definitely won’t be able to contend without a healthy Al Horford. The boys in green are going to try to make one last run at a title with their core intact. Ray Allen’s health is an issue though; they’ll need his perimeter game to make a deep run. The Celtics know Atlanta will be a tough out and do not want this series to run long any longer than it has to, but they might not have a choice in the matter. I’ll take Boston in Six.
Mavericks (+410) vs. Thunder (-525)
Don’t get me wrong. I’m as impressed with the Thunder as the next guy but I’m not ready to crown them just yet, and neither is Las Vegas according to this line. This is a first-round match-up neither team wanted. While the Thunder may be looking to exact some revenge from losing to Dallas last year, and even though this is not the same Dallas team, I still wouldn’t count them out. I look for a highly contested series. I’ll begrudgingly take the Thunder in Seven, signifying a changing of the guard in the league… but I wouldn’t bet the house on it.
Jazz (+1200) vs. Spurs (-2000)
A one seed for the surprising Spurs means they won’t have to face either Dallas, Oklahoma City or the Lakers until the Western Conference Finals. That’s not to say the winner of the Clippers/Grizzlies matchup won’t give them fits. But the Jazz won’t. No disrespect to Utah but the Spurs will want to rest their stars and get this series over with as quickly as possible to rest up for the second round. Give me the Spurs in five.
Nuggets (+175) vs. Lakers (-210)
Wow, does Las Vegas know something I don’t? Did Kobe Bryant just come down with the flu? Has he been kidnapped by aliens? Are Dan Issel and Alex English coming out of retirement? Or is the city just still giddy about landing Peyton Manning? I wouldn’t have made this series nearly this close. In fact, if I had to place one wager on any opening round series, it would be the Lakers at -210. I normally don’t bet favorites but this one seems like money in the bank. I’ll give George Karl the coaching respect he deserves and give Denver one game in this series but that’s as far as I’ll go before cashing my winning ticket. Lakers in Five.
Pingback: I wasn’t really planning on … - BallHyped, NBA | BallHyped Sports Blogs
From everything I’ve heard about Thibodeau, Al, he likes to leave his stars in to close games.
Up by ten with a minute left to play when the kid has hardly played at all late in the season though? I’m sure if he had to do it all over again, he would.
Incredible Game One between Memphis and L.A., man, but the Grizz are going to have to learn to close. We’ll see what their mindset is after that loss. Same with Dallas. To play so well for 47-and-a-half minutes only to come up short can really mess a team’s mindset.
Al, the Knicks could play six on five in that series against the Heat and it might not matter. Expect another blow-out tonight.
And that’s what you get for listening to Broussard in the first place. Trade Amare and someone else to Orlando for Dwight. Amare’s from that area anyway, I believe.
You’re not taking the Jazz? Unbelievable.
I know, bold, huh?
My Mormon roots are so disappointed.
I will announce my slepper final team that absolutely no one is talking about. The announcement will in exactly one week. I will also announce whether LBJ will finally win a title
Predictions are looking good so far. It would be nice to see Orl pull it out and win one w/o Howard.
I can’t see where the Heat slip in the East. Plus Rose going down probably reassures this.
When you going to post those pre-season picks?
I’m with ya’, man.
Old schoolers like us can still remember the days when Tom Mees, Bob Ley and Chris Berman (before he got bloated) tried to deliver analytical sports coverage in a fledgling young network.
Now the four-letter is so slighted and trust me, there’s a post in the works on such matters. Just biding my time.
I don’t know if they’re dumbing down their sports coverage for the general public but trust me, it shows in some of the conversations about sports I’ve had with strangers. Hence the post I wrote a few weeks back about that dufus on the airplane talking about Tiger.
And look, the Knicks could play all the defense they want, they still wouldn’t be able to stop the Heat.
And let me just say this. If I had Bryce Harper on MY team? I’d be excited as hell. Just remember, it takes a lot more than hitting 40 homers in a season to be a good catcher. He’s still gotta learn to call games for his pitching staff.
What that means, ladies and gentlemen, is that Brotha E will pick the Heat to win it all, because he’s a rational, well-versed sports fan AND because he subscribes to sportschump.com.
Not that you can blame the guy.
In reality, what will a Magic victory in this Paers series accomplish? Stan keeping his job and living happily ever after with Dwight?
So, the suspense is killing you about the contest, huh, DHS?
He he, there are a few categories that will become clear soon, such as regular season MVP and whether the Clippers will win a first-round playoff series.
Here are the current standings:
Jamie DSR 15
Full Court Pest 12
Dan Cohn 4
Chris Ross 4
Alex DHS 0
See, Lex, I wasn’t gonna post these until later, to save two gentlemen in particular, you and Chappy, the shame of going 0-fer so far. But since you asked.
Six categories are over but the five, six, seven and nine pointers are still up for grabs.
Damn, I’m good.
In response to your comment on my piece with regard to the Lakers’ MWP . There’s no way in hell Phil Jackson would have allowed that incident to happen ans the player not be suspend from within the Lakers’ organization . Hence the reason I wrote that the Lakers are a ” classless organization ” ! There was no concern shown by anyone of authority within the Lakers’ hierarchy for James Harden . Certainly not from Mike Brown , or MWP , Mitch Kupchak or for that matter from the owner Jerry Buss . As for the suspension , well that was a god-dam joke to begin with ! David Stern continues to be a butt-head ! If Stern wanted to make sure others heeded that type of behavior won’t be tolerated on the court then why not punish the player by not letting him play for the entire postseason ? Professional sports’ hierarchies are now being ran by a punch of docile pu_#ies ! They are way too scared of the respective unions rather than doing what is said to be in the best interest of their respective sports .
I don’t fault Werth, or any athlete that has a hot year or two when his contract is about up, then gets signed to another at five times his value. I blame the teams that sign him.
Look, we all knew what Jayson Werth was. There’s no way he should have warranted that much. But they paid him. And now he’s laughing all the way to the bank.
For those of you who are counting down the days until Stern retires, be careful what you wish for.
Adam Silver still has that deer in the headlights look on him.
Bryce Harper certainly has the potential.
But then again so did Josh Hamilton when he came up.
I agree with your analysis of each match-up, and we have the same predictions for each match-up. Even our games predicted is off by no more than 1 game on a couple of them. Although, I think that the NBA wants the Celtics and Clippers to advance for ratings and fan interest purposes, so we could see some questionable calls in the later games of those series. I really wish the Mavericks would have won the first two games so that the Lakers would be favorites for the Finals. As long as the Celtics or Heat don’t win the championship, I’ll take it.
Check out my predictions if you want.
Great minds think alike, JM.
Be right over.
Pingback: Blake Griffin Will Put on a Show at 2012 London Olympics | Blake Griffin of Los Angeles Clippers