Ahh, put the blame on me. I should have been gloating about calling the Memphis victory over San Antonio and talking about the second round, but I was too darn busy this week. Instead, I've let some major second round events pass on by. Alas, I'll talk about my thoughts following the first round as well as how I think the second round will finish.
Round Thoughts First
- Obviously, my obligatory "glotation" point regarding calling San Antonio's demise. The Spurs had neither an offensive constant nor a defensive constant this year, instead relying on a style of play suited for regular season basketball. They met a good team that had no fear and matched up well with them.
- Tim Duncan is done as a player who can elevate his game to even a semi-dominant level. He's at a point now where you need to question who you would rather have in a playoff series- current Duncan or “regular all-star PF/C who is athletic and produces decently.”
- The Magic screwed up. Dwight Howard played like a top-25 player in NBA history this season and crushed Atlanta's bevy of sacrifices, yet Orlando was snapped in half. Props to Atlanta for emphatically rejecting mine and errbody else's predictions of a Magic victory.
- Dallas vs. Portland was, as I predicted, was the craziest series in the first round. Dallas showed some metal by getting back up after Portland's game 4 performance. LaMarcus Aldridge didn't have the series I was suspecting he'd have, but he was the first option in the playoffs for the first time; his performance was permissible.
- Chicago and Boston were exposed as flawed-yet-formidable, while Miami flexed not only their advantage in top-tier talent, but also their advantage when that talent is clicking. The Lakers struggled against a quick point who happens to be a borderline top five player in the league, while the Thunder took care of business against Denver. Nothing shocking in these matchups.
The Elite Eight
- Man....before the round started, I would have picked Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles and Oklahoma City to advance. Some of these picks- and one especially- aren't looking good. I'm almost glad I was busy this past week....
- I still expect Chicago, Miami and Oklahoma City to advance. Chicago regained home court advantage and has the best player in that series.
- Miami is still in control of its series. The Heat's defense seems to be able to key on Boston's players and use the polarizing-to-Boston-itself Rajon Rondo to its advantage. I think they'll pull it off.
- The Thunder should still win their series. Their length and ability to cut down on paint opportunities for the Grizz will be the turning point. However, Memphis does have legitimate matchup advantages on their side, notably their ability to put excellent defenders on the Thunder's perimeter players who supply most of the team's offense.
The Lakers? Jeez....I guess I could be an ass and call "L.A. in seven." If I'm off the mark, it would seem too off-the-charts a prediction to take seriously, and if I'm right, I appear to be a genius. Though the low risk-high reward prediction is tempting, I'm not going to do that. I don't know which game Dallas is going to take, but they will make the Conference Finals. It's too difficult a task to ask an older team like the Lakers to kick it into high gear for four games in a row and decimate a quality team in this setting. It's just too much. I doubt they even get it to game seven.
Jut in case- Lakers in seven. Happy Mother's Day!