Sunday, May 13, 2012

More Worthless NBA Playoff Predictions

With the staggered schedule now moving to the second round, while other series are still fighting to the whistle, I need to pull out the crystal ball. We've gone 5-2 so far, with the only losses being the hardly counts Bulls and the almost-made-it Nuggets, and if Chris Paul can do some magic tomorrow, we'll be 6-2. So, better than random, but still not rolling in the dough. Let's get to it, shall we?

Indiana vs. Miami

The case for Indy: Deep, tough, physical, and coaching. If they win, it's because Roy Hibbert has a coming-out party, and he just might. The Pacers also have quality guys you've never heard of at the point, which, depending on where the Heat play Dwyane Wade and whether or not Wade is fully healthy, can be an issue.

The case against: The dreaded closer-free issue, and for once, it's a legit beef. Indy's best five players vary a lot from game to game, and bailout shots are taken by Danny Granger, who would be overrated if anyone actually paid any attention to Indy. They are a 4-cylinder team, and while they get a lot of torque out of that engine, it's still just four.

The case for Miami: They have the two best players on the floor, home court, a rest advantage and superior defensive intensity and athleticism. They also have more playoff experience and a better bench.

The case against: You know that, eventually, LeBron James is going to gag up a playoff series, because the combined rooting interests of everyone in America ensures that he's always going to get foiled in the end, like any great villain. It's really unlikely to happen in this series, but that doesn't mean it's not going to happen.

The pick: Miami in six, with a road closeout win that should quiet some critics about clutch behavior, but won't. This team has already lost a playoff game this year, so we can pretty much classify the year as a failure.

LA Lakers vs. Oklahoma City

The case for LA: Momentum, experience, better bigs and the dreaded closing edge with Kobe Bryant. When Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol exert themselves on the boards and start playing volleyball, there isn't a team in the Association that can withstand it. Oddly versatile, in that the bench shoots threes better than you'd expect. Able to withstand turmoil and opponent runs better than any other team.

The case against: They don't bring it often enough, and are prone to big knucklehead fouls, bad threes and turnovers. They looked spent for much of the Denver series, and have three more games and a week more of miles on them, along with a decade of minutes. They don't have home court advantage in this series, and they don't win the Denver series without it. OKC is a lot better than Denver, especially in late and close conditions. Oh, and their coach is a train wreck waiting to happen.

The case for OKC: The best team in the West this year, and it wasn't close. Excellent defensively on the perimeter and the inside. High percentage shooters in all criteria. Outstanding home court advantage. Won two out of three against this team, and bottled up Bryant. Have the best sixth man in the league in James Harden, and Russell Westbrook is an absolute nightmare for the Laker point guards. Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka should give the Thunder more of an even fight than the Nugget bigs.

The case against: Turnover-prone, and prone to getting Jedi mind tricked by veteran clubs. Bench issues, particularly on the road. Westbrook can cost his team games with stubbornness, and Durant has quarters where he's just not all there. Ibaka can be hit or miss, and Nick Collison generally doesn't do great things in this matchup. Scott Brooks also does not exactly strike you as a Mensa member.

The pick: OKC in seven, with a couple of Laker wins that are more about them losing then the Lake Show winning.

And Thunder Fan? Make no mistake about this: if you lose this series, Durant and Westbrook start to get that loser stink to them. And the simple fact of the matter is that your road was easier last year, because the Spurs are looming...

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