by Lang Whitaker

Over the last 24 hours, I’ve been on three different radio shows talking about the NBA Playoffs, and on all three shows I faced a similar barrage of questions:

Q: Should Hawks fans be worried?

A: I get this question because the reason I’m on all these shows is to not only talk NBA, but to be a Hawks specialist. Because outside of Mike Woodson, nobody watches more Hawks action than I do, and even that’s debatable. It’s not much, but it’s all I have. Anyway, my answer is both yes and no. Yes, Hawks fans should be nervous, because the way the Bucks played Game 3 and 4, they seemed to convince themselves that even without Bogut, they can play with these Hawks. At the same time, this is how the Hawks have played all season. Just when you thought they had everything wrapped up, they’d fumble it away. When you thought they were down and out, they’d rip some impressive win and make you think they were on top of the League. It’s frustrating, but it keeps happening, and I’m resigned to it by now.

Q: If the Hawks lose to the Bucks, how does it affect Mike Woodson’s future in Atlanta.

A: First, I don’t think the Hawks are going to lose the series to the Bucks. That said, I have no idea what’s going to happen in Atlanta this summer. Woody’s taken us from being a 13-win team to a 50-plus win team. Is he the guy to take us further and make us a contender? That’s not my call. But getting blown out repeatedly on the road isn’t what you want on the top of your resume.

Q: Are the Lakers done?

A: Nope. Yeah, they lost two games in Oklahoma City, but they came in tonight and crushed the Thunder. At Kobe’s request, Phil Jackson pulled a Woodson and put his slow point guard on OKC’s off guard, and Kobe seemed to get into Westbrook’s head (he finished with 8 turnovers and 6 assists). The Thunder have better athletes, but with most of the Lakers starters playing short minutes tonight and then getting a break until Friday’s Game 5, they’ll be fine. Laker fans have a tendency to be a bit Chicken Little (the sky is falling!), right Mutoni? But I think they’re still the most talented, most experienced, best-coached team in the NBA, and I still think they’re going to win it all.

Q: What is LeBron going to do this summer?

A: I DON’T KNOW! I’ve been asked this all season, on the radio, on NBA TV, at parties, in the office…and I don’t know. I don’t think anyone does, except for maybe LeBron. The one thing I do think is that the most likely way to get LeBron to stay in Cleveland is for the Cavs to win a title. If they win it all, I just don’t think he can walk away.

Q: Can the Cavs win a title?

A: I think they can. Not sure if they will, though. They strike me a little bit like Orlando last season, in that they’re a team where a couple of guys could get hot at the same time and they could zoom into the Finals. (Where I think LA has too much for them.) But watching Bron the last two weeks reminds me again and again that he’s the most complete player in the world today. They’ll beat Boston, and then most likely have a to get revenge against Orlando, and then have to play the best team out West. That’s a tough road to navigate for a team that relies so heavily on one guy.

Q: What about Dwyane Wade? Will he return to Miami?

A: Have you ever been to Miami? It’s pretty nice. Water, islands, sunshine. Mickey Arison, the Heat’s owner, has always been willing to spend money when its warranted, and Pat Riley has shown a knack at somehow flipping rosters full of guys nobody wants into rosters that can contend. I know Wade’s from Chicago, and maybe he’ll want to go home, but I think leaving Miami is going to be tough.

Q: You were right about the Spurs!

A: You readers may be confused by this, perhaps not recalling me saying anything about the Spurs here, and maybe I haven’t in the last week or two. But I have in the past. If I’ve learned anything in the last decade here at SLAM, it’s that you never count out Tim Duncan, Gregg Popovich and the Spurs. Never. You wait until they’re completely eliminated before you think about anyone else. Dallas beat ‘em tonight, but the Spurs are not done. It’s not inconceivable to think they could go to the Western Conference Finals.

Q: What’s wrong with the Nuggets?

A: Watching them in this first round is painful, especially knowing what they’re capable of. They’ve got no urgency, no desire. And I know it’s got to be so tough for them, with George Karl out battling cancer, but the Nuggets just don’t seem to care if they win or lose. Although it’s fun watching the statue of Adrian Dantley on the sidelines.

Q: Will Larry Brown be coaching the Bobcats next season?

A: I think with Larry Brown you always assume he’s going to leave. I have no inside information on this, and I guess it sucks to be pessimistic for Bobcats fans, but Larry Brown has given us this track record to go on, and so I will.

Q: What’s the matter with the Braves?

A: Man, don’t even get me started…