Choosing the Marathon over the Madness
Finally, the NBA Playoffs are upon us. Before we preview the first round, let's get something out of the way right now: if given a choice between the NBA playoffs and March Madness, I take the NBA and its not even a tough decision. I know this is probably not a popular choice and that's fine, but I guess that I just don't like the college game much. I could live a very happy life and never watch a game like the UCLA-Memphis travesty again. The shot clock is too long, there isn't enough run-and-gunning, most players can't create, there's way too much Billy Packer, and Michigan sucks. It's a bad formula.
However, the tournament format is obviously more fan friendly than the marathon that is the NBA playoffs. The games start this weekend and won't end until June. On the other hand, the NBA playoffs offer a faster paced game featuring some seriously entertaining characters: 'Sheed, Kobe and Phil, Shaq, Eva Longoria, Tru Warier, Mason, Steve Nash, Jack Nicholson, Dirk, David Stern, King James, and everyone's favorite: Bill Walton.
(1) Detroit Pistons vs. (8) Milwaukee Bucks - Shouldn't the Pistons and Spurs just get a first round bye? The 'Stons took the first 3 games of the regular season series against the Bucks before rolling over on April 17 when the game didn't matter. Detroit shouldn't have much trouble here, even if Michael Redd gets hot. Said Rip: "We've been waiting to get to the playoffs since the last game of last season. So now to get the opportunity to play, we're all excited." I would not want to be a Milwaukee fan right now.
The Pick: 'Stons in 4
(2) Miami Heat vs. (7) Chicago Bulls - The Bulls won 12 of their final 14 games to finish at 41-41 and avoid the lottery. The Noob Sports family believes in coach Scott Skiles, but his team, while scrappy, doesn't have the talent to put too much of a scare into Shaq and Dwyane Wade. D Wade comes home to Chicago where he attended H.L. Richards High School in Oak Lawn. In fact, one of my favorite high school memories is watching him throw down a couple thunderdunks against A.A. Stagg, my old stomping grounds. Now, that game has been immortalized forever by Wade's new Converse commercial (you know, the "fall seven times, get up eight" business). The second fall he takes is in my old high school gym and he is being dropped by an old high school buddy of mine. Anyway, the Bulls play harder than any other team so they might steal a couple games, but the Heat will ultimately prevail.
The Pick: Heat in 6
(3) New Jersey Nets vs. (6) Indiana Pacers - Will Vince Carter be able to carry his success over to the postseason? Something tells me that Rick Carlisle will have an answer for Vinsanity. Peja and Jermaine O'Neal need to turn in straight cash perfomances, but an upset might be in the works here. If not, this might be the last time you see Jermaine in a Pacers uniform, as the team has hinted that it might be willing to deal him. By the way, Scot Pollard is easily my least favorite player in the NBA so I do hope that Vince teabags him on the way to a particularly violent dunk.
The Pick: Pacers in 7
(4) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (5) Washington Wizards - King James, welcome to the playoffs. Will his ankle be 100%? It had better be, as Gilbert Arenas appears to be very determined and Caron Butler has quietly taken his game up a notch. Cleveland will need scoring from Zydrunas Ilgauskas, solid defense from Larry Hughes (who will be playing against his former team), and something off the bench from Sideshow Bob-alike Anderson Varejao and company. If they get it, they'll win a close one.
The Pick: Cavaliers in 7
Up next, the Western Conference.