With the most intriguing regular season of the post-Jordan era behind us, the playoffs are upon us. The NBA postseason tips off at 1:00 Saturday afternoon, with the Indiana Pacers’ stepping into the gallows of Chicago’s United Center, against the presumptive league MVP and the top-seeded Bulls. Not only does the arrival of the 2011 postseason (mercifully) drop the curtain on a fascinating and contentious (but at the same time tired and increasingly redundant) MVP debate, the arrival of the Association’s spring tournament- which, top to bottom, promises to be as compelling as any we’ve seen in several years- brings to the forefront the season’s overarching storylines.
Regrettably, due to the unfortunate timing of a number of professional and academic responsibilities, I’ve been unable to do the desired amount of prep work in order to produce an exhaustive playoff preview. However, that’s not to say that I’m short on opinions. In the interest of going on the record, wanted to toss out these Twitter-friendly (more or less) predictions for each of the eight first-round playoff series:
Bulls- Pacers- Upset alert! Nope, not picking the Pacers to advance, but they will avert a sweep. Indy's got the horses to pull out one home win. Bulls in 5.
Heat-76ers- Miami's been waiting for this. Look for them to dominate early and often. Even with Lou Williams & Elton Brand healthy, this probably wouldn't go past 5 games. Heat in 4.
Celtics-Knicks- Not crazy about the Knicks, but even less enthralled with the C's. Look for NY to hold court at MSG after stealing one in Boston. Knicks in 6.
Magic-Hawks- Thank goodness for counter-programming! No interest in this one. Orlando’s DEEPLY flawed, but the Hawks can always be counted on to not show up. Magic in 5.
Spurs-Grizzlies- Yep, I did it! Manu is dinged & Duncan has slipped at both ends. As good as Parker is, that leaves no one for Memphis' D to fear. Grizzlies in 6.
Lakers-Hornets- Out of respect for CP3, I'd like to predict anything but a sweep, but the Hornets couldn't beat L.A. in 4 tries with David West. Lakers in 4.
Mavericks-Trailblazers- If you believe (as I do) that Dirk & LaMarcus will cancel each other out, Portland's size & athleticism win in a landslide. Dallas will regret not trading Caron Butler. Blazers in 6.
Thunder-Nuggets- Can't wait for this one. Love this Nuggets team, and they've got a shot, but it's tough to overcome the series' two best players being on the other team. Thunder in 6.
I imagine a few of you may have some thoughts on either these predictions, or my takes on the individual teams above. Love my gutsy calls! Praise me in the comments! Think I come from a gene pool shallower than a puddle? Let me have it! Finally, if your sensibilities have been offended to the point that you'll never again visit this hallowed slice of digital real estate, a couple of parting gifts: Hardwood Paroxysm's Rob Mahoney comes to the rescue, with an epic NBA playoff preview video.
It's winnin' time! Enjoy everyone!