After yesterday's visit to depressionville, I need to get back in some kind of irrelevant groove. And what's more irrelevant than the first round of the NBA Playoffs? Nothing, I say! Absolutely nothing!
For the first time in years - YEARS - I finally have a rooting interest. The Celtics are not only back in the playoffs, but look shockingly like the team to beat. I won't start my cheering routine again. I'll just say that my fridge is stocked with beer, my DVR is set and my family has been warned.
On to the break downs.
Boston Celtics - Atlanta Hawks: Other then Kevin Garnett's lungs exploding during one of his post dunk screaming celebrations, I see no way the Hawks can win this series. They might win a game 4 gimme after dropping the first three, but look for a sweep here. The Celtics are going to use the Hawks as a both a tuneup and smack down to put the rest of the league on notice. 'We are for real and we should be feared!'
Prediction: Celtics in 5 with average margin of victory over 15 points.
Detroit Pistons - Phildelphia 76ers: Of all the first round matchups, this one is the most intriguing. Detroit is past it's peak while the 76ers have been playing some of the best ball in the league the last third of the season. Can they knock off the Pistons, though? Well, I wouldn't go that far. In fact, this is the worst team the 76ers could have faced. Philly likes to run and gun while Detroit will grind it out and slow the pace to a crawl. God, I hate watching the Pistons.
Prediction: Pistons in 6; Rasheed Wallace sets technical foul record in six game series.
Orlando Magic - Toronto Raptors: Confession time here. I haven't seen the Raptors play once this season. Not sure why, but they just bore me and everytime I start to watch them I wind up turning the channel. I know they're pretty good and they aren't really that boring to watch (they aren't the Pistons, that's for sure), but they just give off the blah vibe. Maybe it's that Bosh is their center piece and he is contaminating the rest of the team? Whatever, Orlando is one of those teams that is a bit scary. They have size, they have shooting, and they play decent defense (holding opponents under 100 points per game). More importantly they have not one, but two players that - if hot - can single handedly win the series for them: Turkoglu and Lewis. And if one of them are off, well, that's when Dwight Howard collects the rebounds and does his dunk a thon.
Prediction: Magic in 5; TV ratings for this series around 2.4.
Washington Wizards - Cleveland Cavaliers: Lebron and his cast of ex-Celtics taking on a Wizard team that is much better than their record indicates. The problem for Cleveland is going to be guarding three potential killers. Who guards Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison and the one and only Gilbert Arenas? Remember, the Cavs now have Wally Szerbiac as their two guard and anyone that has seen the Celtics play last year can tell you how effective he is on defense. With that said, LeBron is still on the Cavs and after watching him decimate a superior Pistons team last year, I can't see him losing to the Wizards.
Prediction: Cavaliers in 6; LeBron averaging a triple double.
WESTERN CONFERENCE (AKA 'THE CRAPSHOOT')
Los Angeles Lakers - Denver Nuggets: Considering neither of these teams is a stickler for defense, this promises to be one of the more high scoring series in league history. It's within the realm of possibility that Kobe could average 50 points a game. That said, I'm not sure the Lakers are happy with this matchup. Carmelo, Iverson, Camby, Martin more than matchup with the Kobe, Gasol, Odom and Fisher. I would expect Camby to frustrate Gasol and there is no way Fisher will be able to stay with Iverson. Carmelo and Kobe should cancel each other out and let's face it, this may be a 1-8 seed matchup, but only 7 games separated these teams. Would it really be that much of an upset if the Nuggets knocked off the Lakers? Yeah, probably. But they'll give them a run for their money.
Prediction: Lakers in 7; 32 different Kobe glares at teammates who miss a layup.
New Orleans Hornets - Dallas Mavericks: I realize Dallas traded for Kidd to get them over the hump and win them a championship, but this has to be a nightmare matchup for them. Kidd covering Chris Paul? And by covering I mean not breaking or tearing something trying to keep up with him. Unless Avery Johnson has some brilliant game plan in mind (which is a long shot at best), Paul should dominate this series. I have nothing else to say. If your point guard can do what he wants, whenever he wants, the other team doesn't stand a chance.
Prediction: Hornets in 5; Jason Kidd breaking down in tears midway through game 3.
San Antonio Spurs - Phoenix Suns: Are these the two best teams to ever face each other in the first round of the playoffs? Certainly looks that way. Nash vs Parker. Shaq vs Duncan. Ginobili vs Bell. Bowen vs Hill. Stodemire vs the rim. This series has it all and is anyone's guess. A whistle here, a bad bounce there and either one of these teams could beat the other. However, the Spurs seem to have the Suns' number the last few years and they OWN the playoffs. I don't think this year is going to be any different.
Prediction: Spurs in 7; 420 shots of Eva Longoria in the stands. Not that I'm complaining.
Utah Jazz - Houston Rockets: This is going to be a historic series. No, not because every game will go into overtime or that 400 points will be scored in one game. It will be historic because it will be the first time a team that won more than 20 games in a row is ousted in the first round of the same season. Sorry, Houston, but the Jazz are just the better team. It's not your fault, you just peaked at the exact wrong time of the season.
Prediction: Jazz in 6; McGrady crying in another first round playoff exit press conference.
Is that it? Somehow I thought there would be more matchups. Just as well. Not going to have time to fit them all in anyway. My problem with the NBA playoffs is they always start when the weather is getting nice. I'd rather be out playing than sitting inside watching.
That's why SportsCenter was invented.
Today's distraction: It's Baghdad Basketball. Love the introductions (Ron Artest - league leader in riots started) and the cheerleaders.