Tag Archives: playoffs

2013 NBA Finals

We’re headed for the result I most wanted to avoid: a Spurs vs. Heat Finals. Despite being a Spurs fan, as a practical person, I chose the Grizzlies to come out of the Western Conference Finals. The Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph duo was clicking, Tayshaun Prince completed a lockdown wing tandem with perennial defensive force, Tony Allen, and Michael Conley was climbing the elite point guard ladder higher than the memory of Greg Oden. No one loved the Rudy Gay export more than me. Not only were the Grizzlies suddenly a complete team that could again live up to their GRINDHOUSE moniker, they’re also two years removed from thwarting a dominant Spurs team in the first round. In the Spurs’ defense, after pummeling a Lakers team that wouldn’t have done better with Kobe in the lineup, then subduing the Warriors in Stephen Curry’s coming out party, they managed to cruise like witches on brooms against their hardest test out of the West; and no, the Thunder wouldn’t have fared better, the Spurs would’ve exploited the Harden hole to no end. Given a week to rest before the Finals, are the Spurs the undercover favorites regardless of who comes out of the East?

The Knicks were primed to surprise the Heat after Miami’s soft schedule over the hapless Bucks and feisty Bulls. After their series with the Pacers, I can’t fathom a New York championship with Amar’e Stoudemire on the payroll, or built around Carmelo Anthony’s potential. On the otherhand, the Pacers aren’t ready; after stealing and relinquishing home court advantage, they’re going to learn about missed opportunities the hard way. If not New York, then Memphis was primed to give Miami their hardest trial en route to repeating as Champions. Flash back to the 2007 NBA Finals with me, when the Spurs met a young Lebron James, and rode Tony Parker to their fourth title; this is not the same Lebron, nor are these the same Spurs. A trivial piece of history that separates Tim Duncan from his contemporaries, namely Shaq, Kobe, and Lebron, is the fact that he has never lost an NBA Finals. I personally find meaning in unblemished journeys through the Promised Land. I would personally prefer Tim Duncan lose in the Conference Finals, rather than the Finals, simply to preserve this distinction. As the underdog, more important than earning a fifth ring, these are the stakes I am most aware of.

Of course, should the Pacers improbably earn their title shot, I’ll be celebrating Tim Duncan’s untainted record immediately. Not sure how you begin to word such an unlikely alternative future: The revenge of George Hill? Frank Vogel out coaches Greg Popovich? Roy Hibbert learns to be agile while chasing Tony Parker? Or the Pacers suddenly win four games against a team they’ve only beaten three times in eleven years? In closing, I need the Neilsen television ratings for the Style segments after every game, I can’t be the only one who prefers Lifetime movies.

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NBA Playoffs 2013 Round Two

That’s right, we’re skipping ahead straight to the second round. The Heat took care of business against the hapless Bucks. Brandon Jennings should be suspended to start next season for guaranteeing four wins, or any wins for that matter. The Knicks would’ve swept the Celtics if not for the J.R. Smith suspension; expect a win at Madison Square Garden tonight. The Pacers will trudge through the Hawks, and attempt to rekindle a New York vs. Indiana rivalry, that I will not feel punished to watch. While the Nets surprised me in their first game against the Bulls, they appropriately lost the series from ahead with home court advantage. Honestly, we’re all waiting for the Knicks vs. Heat Eastern Conference Finals to generate any excitement on this coast. Given a healthy Chandler and Kidd, ala Championship Mavericks, my choice remains Knicks over Heat for a spot in the NBA Finals.

The West is where intrigue lives. The Clippers and Grizzles rematch from last season looked like a contest, until Dennis Scott reminded me of two offseason moves that favor the Grizzlies: the release of Reggie Evans and Kenyon Martin. Did you really expect Deandre Jordan and Blake Griffin to BANG with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol? When Chris Paul has to go off for thirty points and game winning drives at home, bet on the grind house in six. The Spurs, against a Lakers roster stockpiled with future hall of famers, would have swept a healthy Kobe Bryant all the same. We’re still waiting for Harden to drop fifty on the Thunder before the Rockets go on vacation. Though Durant will have a transcendental second round series, the effects of the Harden trade and Westbrook injury will practically guide my Spurs into the Finals.

I’m having a hard time calling a clear cut winner between the Nuggets and Warriors. The obvious break out player of the playoffs so far is Stephen Curry! Then again, he’s also the softest star player left, and is expected to survive alternating nights of intensity> When his coach started mentioning hit men in regard to grazing fouls, older fans of the game immediately knew that boy wouldn’t have survived the nineties.

So really, not much has changed in the NBA since my last review of the season, with the exception of Jason Collins revealing his homosexual orientation. The best part about these gay admissions is when the ex-wife claims to have not known; sure. I begged and pleaded for Jeremy Lin to explode out of the closet and stake a realistic claim to athletic equality across sexual orientation. Jason Collins’ announcement has been blown far out of proportion, because he doesn’t have a memorable basketball related moment. He’s so far out of basketball, that his announcement sounds like a cry for employment. To reiterate, because goodness forbid I’m not sensitive about the topic, I’m Pro-Homo; however, mentioning Jason Collins and Jackie Robinson in the same breathe desensitizes me to the seriousness of this discussion. The reality of the matter is this isn’t breaking news and networks are forcing the issue; so please stop interrupting my games with replays of Jason Collins taking charges from Shaquille O’Neal, to not make a point.

NFL Playoffs

You don’t have to believe me after the fact: I accurately predicted every NFL wild card game this postseason. It behooved me to pick against Adrian Peterson. Poor Adrian Peterson, as I was explaining to a friend about history, he really needed to break that rushing record. History will forget the most amazing positional season I can remember, because the statistics aren’t historically distinguishable. Houston was outright better than Cincinnati no matter how they backed into the playoffs. Wilson was the best rookie, and the only rookie I favored.

I accurately predicted half of the Divisional Round. Peyton Manning is a chronic cold weather loser, and Ray Lewis’ announcement nailed the Denver coffin shut. As much as I want to blame a terrible play by Denver’s safety, the Broncos wouldn’t have been in the game without their special team miracles as it was. As a previous Super Bowl MVP winner, Aaron Rodgers had my faith in a revenge game against the city of San Francisco, then the Packers’ defense let a first year quarterback run roughshod over them. The Seahawks were a puzzling first half team. The Falcons were almost fortunate to have drawn a Pete Carroll coached team in order to escape. No one expected the Texans to win and they didn’t.

My Conference Round predictions: Patriots and 49ers. Mike Smith won’t fare half as well against Jim Harbaugh. Whether Matt Ryan is ice cold or not, is one of the least interesting discussions known to mankind. While the Ravens versus Patriots game could really be a toss-up, my choice depends on the Super Bowl matchup I would prefer. I’m already dreading the Colin Kaepernick life story specials scheduled to air, the Harbaugh brothers highlights would drive me to watch Gossip Girl. My prediction provides genuinely interesting plot lines: Bill Belichick versus Jim Harbaugh, arguably the two best coaches in the game. Colin Kaepernick versus Tom Brady, two very different quarterbacks battling over the future of the position.

I will admit that I can’t root for the 49ers to win the Super Bowl. I love Jim Harbaugh, from his time as Captain Comeback on the football field, to this hardnosed coach roaming the sidelines; it’s Colin Kaepernick that I can’t bond with. I’m an advocate of earned accolades. Steve Young introduced the mobile quarterback to elite status, validating the unfulfilled potential of Randall Cunningham, Michael Vick, Vince Young, and allowing Aaron Rodgers to similarly flourish. Ironically Tom Brady was also a beneficiary of instant success, having supplanted Drew Bledsoe and winning a Super Bowl under the direction of the Sith Lord Bill Belichick; however, after time, Tom Brady has earned his stripes and my respect. I would probably root for the 49ers if Alex Smith were starting. Call it hate, or call it a test by fire, because Kaepernick wins my respect with a championship, that’s what winning does, no matter how it’s done.

First Quarter NBA 2012

Initial thoughts I jotted down during the off-season: Who’s supposed to beat the Lakers, besides the Lakers? My dark horse picks included Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Phoenix; my faith in underdogs has since been destroyed. Going forward, it’s safe to expect season defining injuries to Andrew Bynum and Kyrie Irving; and Michael Beasley, a former second overall pick in the NBA draft, will never blossom.

I’m technically writing this post because the Knicks beat the Lakers the other night, that game was my call to action. This is another weak year for the Eastern Conference. Dismiss Boston and Chicago miracles now. The East comes down to the Knicks repeatedly trouncing the Heat, which shouldn’t come as a surprise because of the recipe: Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler, replace Dirk Nowitzki with Carmelo Anthony, and Jason Terry with Raymond Felton. Amar’e Stoudemire coming off the bench solidifies a Knicks team built to make an NBA Finals appearance.

My Kobe sarcasm is off the meter, I thought he was a lock for a sixth ring; I just wasn’t ready for the six ring argument! Had they gelled, it’s not inconceivable to think Mitch Kupchak assembled the greatest five man NBA team EVER: two previous MVPs, two previous defensive MVPs, and a starting rotation of functional All-Stars! Their potential drastically shifted from chasing 72 wins to missing the playoffs; Phil Jackson is beside himself.

Then the Western Conference was gift wrapped to the Thunder right? Wrong. James Harden disappeared in the Finals, against the Heat, not against the Spurs. Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook neutralize one another, the Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson tandem caps Kevin Durant outbursts, and expecting the unproven Kevin Martin to out duel Manu Ginobilli is akin to high hopes for Beasley. The Spurs couldn’t be in a better position to come out of the West, thank you Sam Presti. Houston is now a playoff team, and Harden should win Most Improved Player. Memphis is the wild card here; still, give me the Spurs representing the West in the NBA Finals.

As of now my NBA Finals picture reads Gregg Popovich over Mike Woodson, Spurs over Knicks.