by Lang Whitaker

• In honor of the NBA’s Green Week, I’d like to point out that some of the jokes and thoughts in this column are recycled. (Yes, I used that joke yesterday in my Hawks.com column. See, we’re recycling!)

starsleeper• It’s Good Friday today. When I was a kid, I don’t remember ever getting a day off school for Good Friday. But we always get the day off at SLAM, which makes today, Fri-Day, an especially good Fri-Day. Spent the morning running errands, and now I’m posted up on the couch to spend the rest of the day working. I suppose that defeats the purpose of having a day off, but at least I can work with Ferris Bueller in HD playing in the background. How Edie McClurg didn’t get an Oscar nomination for playing Rooney’s secretary is totally beyond me.

(And as you can see, my dog Starbury is enjoying Good Friday as well.)

• The Playoffs start next weekend, thank goodness. Sure, they last for the next eight months, but at least we’re finally here and ready to play the games that really matter.

I’m hoping the Hawks end up playing against the Heat in Round One instead of the Sixers. Not so much because the Heat aren’t a better team, but mainly because when you play the Heat, you know what you’re getting yourself into: Contain D-Wade and you beat the Heat (paba-free!). Philly, to me, is too much of a wild card, and they scare me in that sense. There’s nights when they go for 120, easily, and then there’s the nights where they score, like, 75. Any one of those dudes can hit for 25 (well, except for Dalembert), and when they’re clicking, the Sixers are dangerous, more dangerous, I think, than the Heat. So give me D-Wade and let’s take our chances. (Also, the Hawks are 2-1 against Miami and 1-2 against Philly.)

I think that’s how it’ll play out anyway — Miami has a one-game lead on Philly with 4 games left, and Philly has to play Cleveland twice and Boston, while Miami has games at Boston, against NY, at Atlanta and home against Detroit. Not an easy schedule for Miami, but it’ll be tough for Philly to pick up a game in there.

• Ben has gently suggested I do a new Dirty 30, but the way I see it is if at this point in the season you don’t understand how your team ranks, you have no business reading SLAMonline. HOWEVA, I will give you my top five:

1. Los Angeles — They’re so good, and I really think it’ll take a major injury or meltdown for them not to win the title this year. Most importantly, I love how they play as a team, how the guys on the bench are all involved and cheering.

2. Cleveland — They’re solid, but I still think they’re not quite deep enough or resourceful enough to beat L.A. four times in seven games, home court or not.

3. Denver — I watched the game against L.A. last night and was really impressed by how much Denver has improved, particularly on the defensive end. I know, they’re still giving up over 100 ppg, but that’s about 7 points per game less than last season. But you’re never going to win a title with Johan Petro playing center.

4. Boston — I’ve got them here for now, but if KG comes back healthy and can get his groove back, I think they will unseat Cleveland in the ECF.

5. Orlando — Dwight Howard is so dominant on the defensive end, but I don’t trust teams that rely almost exclusively on jumpers.

The one other team that I think might surprise some people with a run is Houston. They’ve obviously got a lot of weapons and a ton of talent, but they just don’t seem to be able to get it together consistently. But if they are able to figure it out…

• I just looked and my post-season awards ballot is due on Thursday, which means I have to knock off thinking about the candidates and actually make a choice. I was fairly certain about my MVP choice, until I had a discussion this week with an NBA player who ridiculed me for my way of thinking and has me totally re-thinking things.

• I can’t tell you how awesome it would be if the Wizards hire Flip Saunders for next season. Whew. As a division opponent of my Hawks, I was worried they might go out and hire like a real coach or something.

• Oh, winners from our contest last week.
Villanova: adbphilly
UConn: Moose
Michigan State: Michelle Z
North Carloina: TheSack
I’ll hit you guys up for your addresses next week. Congrats!

• Huge sports weekend. So many important NBA games, the Masters on CBS, my Braves are getting started. Got Godfather 2 ready to go in the PS3.

But for now…back to transcribing. Have a good weekend everyone…catch you here next week, and on Twitter in the meantime.