So it’s that time of year again, the NBA playoffs…which it means it’s time to post my consistently wrong postseason predictions. [2000/2001/2002/2003] I generally do ok in the East, but I’ve had Sacramento in the Finals three years running and I think I’ve finally soured on them (which is probably good news for Kings fans). At any rate…
Indiana Pacers (1) v. Boston Celtics (8): A rematch of one of last year’s first-round surprises, this series will be a rout. The Pacers are a better team this year and they now have a real coach in Rick Carlisle. (Thankfully for the Knicks, Isiah is a much better front office guy than he is a game-time decision-maker.) Conversely, the Celtics are much worse — They’ve lost all of their key role players (Battie, Kenny A, etc.) and picked up the only guy in the league with worse shot selection than ‘Toine, Ricky Davis. Unless Boston is on fire from behind the arc (like they were last year), this one’ll be ugly. Pacers in Five.
New Jersey Nets (2) v. New York Knicks (7): Ok, I’m picking the Knicks here ’cause my heart tells me to. I know they got run off the floor two weeks ago by a Nets team that didn’t have Kidd and K-Mart. I know that Allan Houston is sidelined and that the Knicks O can’t compete with New Jersey’s fast break onslaught. And I know the Nets are basically just a better team. I will say this, though — there’ll be at least one game in this series where Marbury totally outplays Jason Kidd. So, like I said, New York in Seven.
Detroit Pistons (3) v. Milwaukee Bucks (6): With Rasheed Wallace and Ben Wallace manning the paint, Detroit are the defensive Beasts of the East. And with TJ Ford injured and Keith Van Horn ever suspect, this one’ll be a walk for the Pistons. The only way to beat a D-structured team like Detroit is sheer offensive firepower, and the Bucks don’t have it, unless Van Horn puts up career numbers. Detroit in Six.
Miami Heat (4) v. New Orleans Hornets (5): Miami’s been playing amazing ball since the All-Star Break. N’awlins has been sucking it up. And, in playoff situations, it takes something special for me to bet against one of the Van Gundy boys. Miami in Seven.
Minnesota Timberwolves (1) v. Denver Nuggets (8): KG, Cassell, Spree…I’m loving this Minnesota squad. Garnett has a tendency to be too selfless with the ball in pressure-cooker playoff situations, but Cassell and Latrell should right the ship, particularly against Carmelo, Camby, & Co. Minnesota, welcome to the second round. Minnesota in Six.
Los Angeles Lakers (2) v. Houston Rockets (7): I’d love to see Jeff Van Gundy’s Rockets systematically dismantle the top-heavy, prima donna Lakers. I’d love to see Yao outplay Shaq and Stevie Franchise go nuts in this series. I’d love to see Kobe the inveterate ballhog shoot them out of the series. I’d love to see Gary Payton get sick of this outfit and move to another contender. But, unfortunately, none of this is going to happen. Lakers in Six.
San Antonio Spurs (3) v. Memphis Grizzlies (6): The Memphis Grizzlies? I’ve only seen Hubie Brown’s boys play once or twice, and they’ve never looked as dominant as the Spurs can at times. And, while the Grizz are 3-1 on San Antonio, I have to give the edge to my second least favorite contender. Unless Gasol comes up big, it’ll be the Duncan & Ginobli show. Spurs in Five.
Sacramento Kings (4) v. Dallas Mavericks (5): Hard to believe this match-up is coming in the first round. The Kings have been playing pretty badly lately, but then again, so has Dallas. I don’t think the Mavs would’ve won this series last year without the injury to C-Webb, so I’ll go Sacramento. Still, which Kings team will show up? If they’re clicking, they could win in five…but more likely it’ll be Sacramento in Seven.
Indiana Pacers (1) v. Miami Heat (4): Other than the Knicks, which I admit was a goofy pick, I didn’t take any upsets in the First Round. And it won’t happen here…Indiana is a team on a mission, and they’ll at least make it to the Eastern Finals. Indiana in Six.
New York Knicks (7) v. Detroit Pistons (3): Ok, so we’re at a crossroads here. Do I venture into Bracket fantasyland and have the Knicks going all the way? Or do I admit my first pick was suspect and choose Detroit? I’m with the people who think the Pistons, with their plodding O and tight D, would’ve been a better match-up for New York in the first round than New Jersey, who just kill you with offensive numbers. Still, if the Knicks get this far without Allan Houston, they’ve overachieved. Detroit in Seven.
Minnesota Timberwolves (1) v. Sacramento Kings (4): These are the two teams I wanted to see in the Western Finals. Unfortunately, due to the Kings freefall, it has to happen now. The Kings have more playoff experience, but the T-Wolves have been playing much better ball. And I want to see Spree in the Finals again. Minnesota in Seven.
Los Angeles Lakers (2) v. San Antonio Spurs (3): Boo hiss. I’m sick to death of both of these teams. But, since the Spurs seem to have the Lakers’ number of late, I’ll go with San Antonio. Spurs in Six.
EAST FINALS: Indiana Pacers (1) v. Detroit Pistons (3): It’s the match-up everyone in the East has been waiting for, and I would’ve picked Indiana until watching ‘em go head-to-head two weeks ago. Now, I’ll say ‘Sheed makes the difference and it’s Detroit in Seven.
WEST FINALS: Minnesota Timberwolves (1) v. San Antonio Spurs (3): The Spurs definitely have more experience and the big game edge. But they’re lousy free-throw shooters, and the T-Wolves backcourt are savvy veterans. Oh, why not? Minnesota in Seven.
FINALS: Minnesota Timberwolves (1) v. Detroit Pistons (3): Detroit finally confronts a team who can score more points than they can possibly stop. The only Eastern squad who can legitimately run against the Best of the West is Indiana, and that’s on a good day. KG, you’re the MVP…enjoy the ring. Minnesota in Six.
So there you have it. Of course, I’ll be delirious if the Knicks win, but I’d be very happy to see Minnesota, Sacramento, or any Eastern team take the championship too. The point is, anyone but the Lakers or Spurs. Please?