Saturday, April 20, 2013

First Round Playoff Predictions

Heat vs. Bucks - Miami in 4
Knicks vs. Celtics - Boston in 7
Pacers vs. Hawks - Indiana in 5
Nets vs. Bulls - Brooklyn in 6

Thunder vs. Rockets - OKC in 5
Clippers vs. Grizzlies - LA in 7
Nuggets vs. Warriors - Denver in 5
Spurs vs. Lakers - Spurs in 6

Friday, April 19, 2013

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Painting the Playoff Picture

The Grown Men Version of the Sweet 16
Pete Certo

The NBA Playoffs are right around the corner and there are two entirely different realities between East and West.  Before delving into each conference, some conventional wisdom shall be offered up:  In a seven game series, the better team will take the series most of the time.  This concept is reinforced by how the regular season plays out.  The more you play, the clearer it is who the better teams are as evidenced by the disparity in the records between the good and bad teams.  By contrast, the NCAA Tournament is a one and done scenario where anything can happen as each team has one shot to get the win.  Any team can lose on any given night.  If Harvard and New Mexico played a seven game series, Mr. Lin's Alma Mater wouldn't be dancing so happily.  In the NBA, the best team generally advances.

With that being said, not to ruin the Eastern Conference for everyone but Miami is coming out of the East guns a-blazin'.  The East breaks out with Miami as the Dottie Henson of the bunch because they are in A League of Their Own.  After that you have that unpredictable group from Manhattan who everyone thinks are named after a pair of pantaloons (Do your homework people because that is not the case), and those Indiana Pace Cars who are coached by a guy who appeared on David Letterman's Stupid Human tricks as a child.  Everyone else in the East should just be happy to be there.

Miami is sitting reeeeal pretty with a clear path to the Finals.  They are just far superior to any other team in the conference.  They will probably lose a game here and there, but any series going seven seems quite unlikely. 

Brooklyn, Atlanta, and Milwaukee stand no chance and will get swept.  There is really nothing else to say.  Chicago and Boston pose interesting matchups and will make life difficult for Miami.  They play tough and gritty and there is history there which makes for sloppy, but compelling basketball.  Some teams just matchup well with other teams due to specific player personnel or style of play, but those same teams can easily lose to a team like Charlotte for the same reasons.

Indiana’s back it louder than its bite.  Their collapse in last season's Playoff series hurt their psyche more than people realize, and when they are playing Miami they seem to be trying too hard to be tough rather than a good basketball team.  I look forward to David West making his David West face a lot, Paul George possibly trying a little too hard to be The Man, and Lance to do something crazy.  Oh, and their offense is TURBULL.

The only other team is those Knicks who are playing hot right now.  If the Knicks are firing on all cylinders they can beat anyone.  However, in a seven game series against Miami it just isn’t going to happen.  Miami's D in the Playoffs gets ratcheted up a few levels and their team rotations will close out on the Knicks’ spot-up shooters much quicker.  Let ‘Melo get his, and the rest is history.  I could totally see it going six games if NYK play like they are on their current, late-season streak, but Miami will not be denied.

The Western Conference has much more intrigue heading into the Postseason.  Interesting matchups, back stories, and bad feelings are running amok between the West's best.  First things first - let's get the Lakers out the way.  Is it worse that they miss the Playoffs with that heralded and hyped team of over-the-hill HOFers, or grab the 8th seed and promptly get blown out, most likely in a sweep.  It's one of those two scenarios, so pick your poison.  Moving on...

The West is wide open and is going to be fun as all heck-fire.  This could very well be San Antonio’s last chance (even thought that has been the case for the past six years).  Duncan went counter-clockwise on the time-telling machine and is playing at a level no one saw happening coming into the year.  If Parker and Ginobili are healthy – watch out everyone because that is a beautiful, sophisticated team basketball that is tough to beat when it is a well-oiled machine firing on all cylinders.

OKC is still a very scary team.  Durant and Westbrook can run up the score while running you out of the building.  They will miss Harden’s playmaking when the pace slows down to half-court offense because that’s what happens in the playoffs.  KD and Russ’ isolation games will not be enough if they aren’t clowning defenders on every possession.

That rag-tag bunch up high in Denver is probably the team no one wants to face.  They can run you into the ground and just keep waves of players coming at you.  The injury to (insert C-Webb voice here) “Gallinarrrri!” isn’t going to hamper them too much.  So if Lawson is good to go, watch out.  If Denver plays Houston, it will be the most insane, frenetic, and high-scoring games the league has seen since the 80’s.  Don’t miss a minute.

Looks like Grind House and Lob City have a good chance at squaring up once again, and it will be a phenomenal series.  Any basketball fan worth his salt knows the history there and is salivating for this rematch.  People mocked the Gay trade, but Memphis has been playing better since then.  Let’s not forget former ESPN Analytics Guru John Hollinger was the architect behind that deal, so it isn’t much of a surprise that things are working out well.  Memphis takes it in a slugfest.

If Houston plays OKC in the opening round, the storyline of Pizza Rolls returning home is something straight out of Hollywood – the caliber of Blue Chips.  The prodigal son has returned and seeketh revenge in a starring pizza role. 

Who know what to expect with Golden State.  They could cause issues for a lot of teams, or just not show up and get rolled.  Very curious about what they are going to do…

If Utah makes it in over the LA HOFers - Whatever.  Thanks for playing.

The West Finals just feels like it will be San Antonio and Denver with Denver making a series of it, but San Antonio pulls it out in their swan song of a season.  That leaves it to San Antonio vs. Miami.  As a true basketball fan and anointed “NBA Guy”, one can’t ask for a better Finals Matchup.  For the basketball purists, San Antonio is a beautiful team to watch.  Everyone already knows watching the Heat play basketball is also a thing of beauty.  In the end, Miami takes it in six close games while riveting us for every minute of an amazing Finals battle.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Three Point Thursday

1.  Mamba Carrying Lakers to the Playoffs

Playing all 48 minutes and putting up an absurd stat line and NBA record of 47 points, 8 boards, 5 assists, 4 blocks, and 3 steals, Kobe Bean Bryant is single-handedly willing this Laker team into the playoffs.  Hoping to have Metta World Peace back for the playoffs, the +Los Angeles Lakers  are currently holding on to the 8th seed for dear life, up one game on the Utah Jazz.  Another bright spot for the Lakers was Pau Gasol's play, putting up 23 points, 7 boards, and 9 assists.

If Pau and Kobe can play a little two man ball in the playoffs and run some pick and rolls with efficiency, they might be able to win a game or two, but the rest of the team is struggling to play perimeter defense and its leaving them exposed.  San Antonio presents a nightmare match-up for them, but NEVER EVER count out The Mamba.

Kobe Los Lakers jersey
Beware, The Mamba spits VENOM in the playoffs.

2.  Mavericks Miss Playoffs

For the first time in a long time, the +Dallas Mavericks  will not be represented in the Western Conference Playoffs this year.  After missing Dirk to injury the first half of the year, the Mavericks were never really able to put a run together with their new pieces.  Darren Collison, OJ Mayo, and Elton Brand were just not enough to compete this season and Rick Carlisle knows it.  With Dirk Diggler turning 35 this year, expect Mark Cuban to go crazy in free agency and the off-season, assembling a squad for one last run with Dirk.  Luxury tax does not matter so don't be surprised if Dallas is VERY active this off-season.

Chris Kaman Mavs
Yeti #2
Nowitski beard
Yeti #1

3. Denver Nuggets = Playoff Nightmare

There is not one team in the league that wants to play the +Denver Nuggets in the postseason.  Even with the loss of Danillo Galinari, the team is still deep as ever with Wilson Chandler able to step right in and fill his shoes.  At times they can run with three ball-handlers in Lawson, Miller, and Iguodala, and at other times they can throw five forwards at you.  They also have size, athleticism, and energy down low in Faried and McGee, who just happen to run the floor as well as any big.  THIS IS THE BEST DENVER NUGGETS TEAM IN THE HISTORY OF THE FRANCHISE.  They have a record 54 wins this year, as well as a record 21 home wins in a row.  That's quite impressive.  Does this mean they'll win it all?  No.  Does it mean anything if they don't win it all?  Yes.  Denver fans should be more excited than ever about their team, because they truly play for each other and it shows.  They run the floor, share the rock, hustle, play defense and win as a team.  They are ROUNDBALL APPROVED.

Nuggets Playoffs
Teamwork = Playoff Wins.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Three Point Thursday

1.  The New York Knickerbockers

Carmelo Anthony has been dripping and dropping buckets this week, going off for 50 and 40 in back to back outings..  Now a half game up on the +Indiana Pacers for the second seed, the +New York Knicks look to ride their 10 game win streak all the way into the playoffs.  Continuing their solid play with the return of Tyson Chandler, the Knicks have benefited from the solid veteran play of Kenyon Martin and Jason Kidd.  Holding down that #2 spot sets them up for a nice Eastern Conference match-up with the Miami Heat.  Only three weeks left in the regular season and the Knicks are playing as good as anybody when 'Melo shoots the lights out.

Melo scoring 50, melo scoring 40, Carmelo Anthony
'Melo how many games have you won in a row?  "Dis many."

2. Lob City

After playing .500 ball for the last month, the +Los Angeles Clippers find themselves find themselves fighting for the 3-4-5 seed out West.  If they want to make a deep run in the playoffs they are going to need more monster games out of DeAndre Jordan down low.  Last night the big man put up 20 & 12 against the Suns.  The playoffs are going to see teams slowed down to a half court game and the Clips are going to need to establish themselves in the paint with Griffin and Jordan.  They also need them to be rebounding and blocking shots on the defensive side of the ball, controlling the boards and getting it out to CP3 so he can operate at his best.  The 3-4-5 seeds will  have huge implications for home court advantage in the first and second rounds, so Lob City needs to play better these last two weeks if they want to make some noise this post-season.

DeAndre Jordan foul
Paint Presence = Playoff Wins.

3. Seattle vs. Sacramento- Battle for Last Place

The NBA has now stepped in and will be reviewing both proposals from the Seattle and Sacramento ownership groups regarding the immediate future of the franchise.  Kudos to Mayor Kevin Johnson for fighting to keep the team in town, getting a local group together to make an offer as well as plans to build a new stadium.  The only problem is the Maloofs already signed a deal with the Seattle group.  After the NBA reviews it will be voted on by the owners, but we can't see the NBA overruling the current SIGNED deal and move to Seattle.  So unless the NBA is willing to offer a new expansion team, it looks like Roundball will be returning to The Emerald City in he near future.

Supersonics montage, supersonics all-time greats

Monday, April 1, 2013

NBA March Madness!

As teams head down the homestretch and begin gearing up for the playoffs, Roundball takes a look back at The Ides of March in the Eastern Conference and the madness that was the Miami Heat win streak.

Beasts of the East

So there's this team called the +Miami HEAT and they went on this 27 game winning streak.  Have you heard?  They're pretty good.  They are one of the best passing teams in the league and spread the floor better than anyone.  Toss in several sharpshooters along with the best fast break in basketball and it's lights out.  If James and Wade are healthy, it doesn't appear anyone will be able to stop them.

LeBron Heat win streak
You're standing on the tracks and the train's coming through, butt-head.

Rest of the Pack

Despite multiple injuries to their starting lineup, the Knicks have rolled off eight straight wins and regained some of their early season form with a brand new rotation.  Kenyon Martin has provided solid depth in the paint while the team waits for Amare to return by the playoffs.  Jason Kidd has been the team's MVP this season, running the floor and distributing the rock to a bevy of scorers.  Having two point guards on the floor in Kidd and Felton has allowed a guy like JR Smith to flourish.  No longer having to force up bad shots, JR has been on a scoring tear as of late and has benefiting from the leadership and teamwork of J Kidd.  But can the Knicks upend the Heat?  Either way they'll be fun to watch in the playoffs.

Knicks orange uniforms
Earl Smith dropped 30+ points in back to back to back games this week

Indiana has also been banged up most of the year, with Danny Granger announcing last week that his year is over before it even began.  In his place Paul George has stepped up and established himself as a legit All-Star.  Currently a #3 seed, the solid team core of George Hill, Roy Hibbert, and David West have helped lead the +Indiana Pacers in the East all year.  Will that be enough to take a shot at the Heat? 

The +Brooklyn Nets have been playing better of late.  Reggie Evans is a rebound MACHINE, and D Will has finally played up to his contract, dishing out dimes and dropping threes all over the court.  The defensive duo of Reggie Evans and Gerald Wallace has provided the Nets with much needed toughness against a weak East.  Do they have what it takes to make a deep playoff run their first year in Brooklyn?

It's GOT to be the shoes
Over the last month the +Boston Celtics have seen the resurgence of Jeff Green. Since moving to starter, Green has averaged 17 points and 5 boards, providing Boston with a nice scoring punch.  Come playoff time he should provide them with a shot in the arm as Garnett and Pierce look to make one more deep run into the heart of the East.

The +Chicago Bulls are hoping that a certain Rose blooms early in Spring.  The Bulls proved they are a quality defensive team and a return by Derrick Rose at the right time could upset the balance of power and set up an intriguing first round match-up.

Roundball touched on the hot play of the +Milwaukee Bucks last month.  The article discussed how the killer guard play combo of Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings along with the interior presence of Larry Sanders could cause problems for a top-seeded team.  Well the Bucks have cooled off as of late, but they still stand to give one lucky team a tough out in the first round.

Illyasova Grant Hill
Known for his rebounding and three point shooting,
Illyasova recently introduced "pattycake" into his repertoire

Last but not least, the +Philadelphia 76ers announced Andrew Bynum's season was over as the big man chose to clean out both knees, most likely ending his career as a Sixer and Doug Collins' time as head coach.  This trade should only set Philly back about five years or so.  

Andrew Bynum hurt
Now playing at a Rehab Clinic near you!