So yea, I ‘d like my beloved Knickerbockers to not be the butt of every joke around the association. I would prefer to be writing an entire article about the Knicks playoff series and what the Orange and Blue need to do to advance to the next round; well that ship sailed when Zieke and company got off to an awe inspiring 2-9 start. As such, I will now breakdown three playoff series that sadly don’t involve the Knickerbockers.
Utah Jazz (54-28) vs. the Houston Rockets (55-27) -
The Rockets became the story of the sports world for about 6 weeks in the dead of winter. During this 6 week stretch spanning 22 games, the Rockets did not lose a single game. They rode the coattails of an aging superstar Tracy Mcgrady and a band of hardworking blue-collar (yes black athletes can be blue collar athletes too you Tyler Hansbrough/David Eckstein worshipping morons) guys like Shane Battier and Dikembe Mutombo. However, this is the time when the injury to all world center Yao Ming finally catches up with the Rockets. Without Yao, they will have nobody to stop the bestial Carlos Boozer on the inside when Dikembe is resting his 85 year old legs. Oh, and they lose about 20 plus points per game too with Yao relegated to cheerleader duties. The Rockets have nobody that can possibly stick Chris Paul light, a.k.a Deron Williams, either. Mcgrady has no lift in his legs anymore and has been reduced to a jump shooter, albeit an at times unstoppable one. Although Utah has the greatest home (37 wins) road (17 wins) split in the league, expect the Northwest champs to finish off the scrappy but injury plagued Rockets in 6 games.
Magic (52-30) vs. the Raptors (41-41)-
The Toronto Raptors might be the worst team to make the NBA playoffs or at least the most boring and uninspiring one. Chris Bosh is a legitimate superstar no doubt. However, as talented as Jason Kapono and Jose Calderon are at shooting the 3-ball, they can’t take anyone off the dribble. Toronto is a soft 41-41 as it never went on any kind of hot streak during the season that served notice to the rest of the conference that it was a realistic contender or even a potential sleeper in this year’s playoffs. The Magic, on the other hand, is an exciting and fun team. Led by the scariest mofo out there Dwight Howard; Orlando plays excellent team basketball and features a great coalescent attack of the inside dominance of Howard and the sharpshooting of Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis. The acquisition of Lewis in the off-season coupled with the maturation of Dwight Howard and the emergence of Turkoglu as a legitimate NBA scoring threat makes the Magic a really tough out in the East. Jameer Nelson and Carols Arroyo form a great point guard tandem and Pat Garrity provides yet another long ball threat off the pine. The biggest problem for the Raptors in this series is that its #1 weapon Bosch is neutralized by the great defense and rebounding of Howard. Therefore, I expect the Magic to wipe the floor with Toronto in 5 games.
New Orleans Hornets (56-26) vs. Dallas Mavericks (51-31)
I suppose it is not entirely fair to call this an upset pick. The Mavs are the 7 seed but they are far more talented and experienced than your typical 7 seed. Dirk Nowitzki is an NBA title away from becoming this generation’s Larry Bird and might be an even better pure shooter. (Though not quite the defender or rebounder that Larry Legend was) Although Jason Kidd comports himself like a selfish prick off the court, just ask the opposing coach in the series, he is a great floor leader on it and plays decent defense. Chris Paul is a phenomenal player and is a very real candidate for this year’s MVP award. He is a brilliant passer, an excellent scorer and an excellent defender. His leadership has the Hornets in secure hands for the next 10 years. However, no one on this roster, outside of Peja Stojakovic, has any appreciable playoff experience. David West is a legit scorer in the league and Tyson Chandler is a monster in the middle both on the boards and on defense. However, I like the playoff experience of Dirk, Howard and Kidd as opposed to the naiveté of Paul and West. The only caveat I will offer here is that if Dallas does not put a man on Peja, he will kill them from beyond the arc. If this happens, the balance of the power could change in this series. However, I don’t expect the Mavs to have another 1st round meltdown. I expect the Mavericks to win a competitive and thrilling 6 game series.