Fifty games in sixteen nights. Five-zero. These playoffs are shortening my life span, I swear. Each series (besides MIA-CHA, due to Al Jefferson’s foot breaking) with its share of thrillers and highlights.
My bracket is also fucked. I’ve given up caring about it, I’m mathematically out of contention in both of my pools I think.
With this all being said, some final thoughts on the series that were, and the series to come.
#1 Indiana Pacers vs. #8 Atlanta Hawks
Nice to see Roy Hibbert finally show some signs of life. I’m glad the Pacers didn’t flunk out of the first round; I’ve kind of liked this team all season and I think a first round flop would have been a monumental waste of a season. I continue to believe in Paul George as one of the best two-way players in the league, and watching Lance Stephenson (when he’s on) is so much fun.
Good on Atlanta for putting up a fight I guess, but these Pacers will have to shore up their stuff and get ready to take on the #dcrising squad. At least they won’t have to deal with rangey bigs like Antic and Millsap messing with their defensive schemes.
#4 Chicago Bulls vs. #5 Washington Wizards
I’m pretty disappointed, as like, a pseudo-Bulls fan. I expected more, and I think the magic from last year’s playoffs misled me into thinking this team was capable of more. The offense was upsetting to watch at times, and Joakim was playing hurt, apparently. We’ll see what the Bulls come up with next year (Carmelo…?) but for now it’s just kinda disappointing.
This series wasn’t all on Chicago though – Washington was impressive; they came out way stronger than I expected them to. I wanted Wall to have his breakout playoffs, but had concerns about his and Beal’s playoff experience. Guess it didn’t matter. So long as Nene remains healthy and doesn’t decide to grab anyone else by the neck, they’re going to give the Pacers a hell of a fight.
#2 Miami Heat vs. #7 Charlotte Bobcats
yawn.gif I’m still sad Al Jefferson’s foot got all screwed up in Game ONE. We were robbed.
#3 Toronto Raptors vs. #6 Brooklyn Nets
Meh. Toronto came real close. KG and Pierce in the playoffs is old. I’m tired of it. I’m ready for it to die. Somehow though, they never go away. I hope Miami annihilates Brooklyn, honestly.
#1 San Antonio Spurs vs. #8 Dallas Mavericks
As someone backing the Spurs to win it all… THANK GOD they played the way they did in Game 7. “Where was this all series?” you might wonder. Credit to Rick Carlisle for coaching a great first round, but man, the Spurs had me worried until Sunday. The bench still hasn’t really gotten it going (besides Manu), and you have to think that Portland, with Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge, are at least Dirk/Monta equivalent, if not Dirk/Monta level two.
Still, San Antonio survived Vince Carter turning back the clock to hit what felt like a million three pointers during the series, and its big three of Timmy, Tony, and Manu looked as strong as ever in game 7. It’ll be tough, but I still think they have what it takes.
#4 Houston Rockets vs. #5 Portland Trailblazers
I don’t know what it will take to get the Rockets functioning properly. I’m guilty of harping on the same things as everyone else – McHale in the fourth quarter is TERRIBLE. James Harden’s defense is laughable. The team just doesn’t seem like it can handle playoff basketball. I know it’s Dwight’s first year in town, but a first round exit was in no way or form what anyone in Houston should have been expecting from these guys.
The spotlight is bringing the scrutiny on these guys, so a lot of people are hopping on bandwagons heading both in and out of Rocket town, so I hesitate to give a knee jerk response, but damn, you have to think SOMETHING significant has to change. Credit to Portland, though, for not letting this series get to seven games.
How many game winners at the buzzer does Dame have left this season? (None, I hope).
#2 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. #7 Memphis Grizzlies
I really hoped Memphis would somehow pull the upset. Scott Brooks is right up there with Kevin McHale on my list of coaches I would like replaced by more interesting dudes. It seems like every time the Thunder struggle, we’re faced with the timeless question of “Is Russell Westbrook too much of a ballhog?” and all this other noise (“Mr. Unreliable” much?), but even without the media play, unless this team gets it done, you have to wonder what they would do with better coaching, or with a definitive resolution to the Kevin Durant/Russell Westbrook balance of field goal attempts.
#3 Los Angeles Clippers vs. #6 Golden State Warriors
I wanted Golden State to win to be able to see Steph Curry rain fire for another series, but I think the Clippers winning makes for a more compelling second round. Chris Paul is hurting, but it’ll be interesting to see the Clippers, with an improved Blake Griffin, and Doc Rivers coaching go up against the Thunder.
I feel like this could very well be anyone’s series. It’s too bad though. You have to wonder what the Warriors could have done without the Bogut injury. These guys were one of my favorite team to watch and it sucks that they’re done for the year.
PREDICTIONS FOR SECOND ROUND
#1 Indiana Pacers vs. #5 Washington Wizards
Pacers in 7. Call me stupid but I think a more favorable matchup for Hibbert will allow these guys to find themselves. The Wizards could very well upset, but I guess I’m just going to keep the faith here.
#2 Miami Heat vs. #6 Brooklyn Nets
Heat in 5. Death to the old guard. Even if it’s at Miami’s expense, does anyone really want to see Brooklyn make it to the Eastern Conference Finals? Didn’t think so.
#1 San Antonio Spurs vs. #5 Portland Trailblazers
Spurs in 7. Portland scares me. I could see a scenario where the Spurs win in 5 or 6, but Portland just made it out of a testy, testy series and they’re playing at a high level, whereas I feel like San Antonio just kind of figured things out in Game 7. Maybe getting away from Dallas’s defensive schemes will give them a boost.
#2 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. #3 LA Clippers
This kind of depends on Chris Paul’s health, but Clippers in 6. I just feel like coaching wins the day for Los Angeles here. When it comes to the clutch, and I think these teams should be pretty neck and neck through 4 quarters, it’ll come down to coaching and execution. Advantage, Rivers.