LAKERS v NUGGETS
Damn you Don Nelson. I know Baron was gunnin like a madman, but you don’t cure cold shooting with a warm benching. Had the Warriors slipped into the 8 seed, a Lakers/Warriors series would have intrigued me a tad more. Neither the Nuggets or Warriors play a lick defense, but the Warriors’ lack of D is entertaining. The Nuggets’ is just…not. I love Allen Iverson’s game as much as the next man, but the Nuggets…nah. And them pulling off an upset? Nah. I wish Carmelo was drunk on the court instead of in the car though. He’d get that Long Island Iced Tea courage and barrel to the lane as opposed to floating to the jumper. And judging from my behavior watching games in my drinking days, I’d love to see a a drunk Melo and Bennett Salvatore arguing a call or challenging Nate Robinson at the brawl instead of moonwalking. Lakeshow in 5.
PISTONS v SIXERS
When I predicted the Warriors would mop the floor with the Mavs last year, I got a lotta chuckles. Then when Dirk made his anti-climatic MVP acceptance speech I pulled a cheek muscle grinning. Well, similar to last year’s Mavs team, the Pistons are NOT good enough to turn it on and off. This aint 2004 and the 2001 Lakers they’re not. The Pistons are clearly the better squad. Rasheed is one of the most versatile players in the NBA, Rip Hamilton is the ultimate hustler, Tayshaun Prince is the best thing to come outta Compton since the intro to Eazy-E’s 187um Dre Killa EP, Chauncey Billups, etc. But the NBA’s poster child blue collar team are ripe for picking when they pick and choose when to be Piston-ish. The Cavs got em last year, and this years Sixers aren’t much apart from last years Cavs. There’s no LeBron in the city of brotherly love, but the match-ups here are solid, and if the Pistons continue to do what they did last year vs the Cavs and in game one of this series, this has the most potential to be the upset. As a matter of fact, I say Sixers take it and Flip Saunders is courtside with Cheryl Miller next year. And even if the Pistons wake up here, they’re OUT next round. They will NOT make the Eastern Conference Finals. Period. Sixers in 7.
ROCKETS v JAZZ
Damnit T-Mac, why? The NBA Gods have shown this man no mercy. He must have been Tim Donaghy in a previous life. If last years first round exit had T-Mac in tears, I’d hate to see what happens this year. I’m not a big T-Mac fan, but expectations are a tad unfair on the man. No Yao, no Rafer,Boozer, Williams, AK-47…pick your poison. The 21 game cinderella run was classic, but its back to reality like Soul II Soul. “However do ya want it, however do ya need it”. Whichever way they’re gettin served. Jazz victory and tearjerker postgame T-Mac speech in 6.
CAVS v WIZARDS
Aaaah Ruben Patterson. Remember him? The guy that claimed to be the “Kobe Stopper” a few years ago? Well, since then Kobe’s broken a whole buncha records and Ol Ruben is on carton of vitamin D next to Al B. Sure (unless you count that domestic violence episode last year). Deshawn Stevenson has game, so I can’t say the same fate lies ahead for him after calling Lebron James overrated but stories like this never end well for the loudmouth. This can go either way. I’m not a Cavs fan at all, but LeBron just isn’t human, Gibson is The Long Ranger, Joe Smith is an ol school vet and I’ve been asked if I’m related to Delonte West, so he gets some light skinned brotherly love. The rest of the team is an after thought to me. The Wizards are actually the better team in my opinion, but Gilbert is still on the comeback trail and…well they don’t have LeBron. This will actually be the only series in which I’ll watch every single game. Not only because this is the most evenly matched series of the first round, but this is becoming a legitimate first round rivalry and I wanna see if somebody attempts to record a freestyle to intimidate the other team over the course of the series. After LeBron’s Jay-Z/Soulja Boy comment, I hope he gets in the booth with an anti-Wizard 16 bar verse rife with AK-47 sound fx adlibs. Hey, he can’t be any worse of a rapper than 95% of the guys that do it for a career at the moment. Speakin of which, I located a copy of the Allen Iverson (aka “Jewelz”) “40 Bars” single. Fuck David Stern, that shit is pretty entertaining. J-Zone remix coming soon, there’s an acapella on there! If the Cavs roll forward on LeBron’s back (and the refs keep givin em the Spurs’ priveleges), I ain’t a bit surprised. But for now I’ll say Wizards in a closely fought 7.
HORNETS v MAVS
If you honestly still feel Chris Paul ain’t the league MVP (although Kobe is still the best), then…shit, I have no words for once. I hear what everybody says regarding the Hornets. “Oh they’re good but they’re too young and inexperinced to take it in the west”. And everybody is absolutely right, but that theory applies to the later rounds. As for the Mavs, don’t let the big names and high number of nationally televised games fool you. They’re soft as wet wonder bread and dead. And I feel bad for Jason Kidd. Nobody in the NBA (except possibly Allen Iverson) deserves a ring more than Kidd Dyn-O-Mite, but with Dallas the only ring he’s getting is around the tub. There’s no need to insert any more Dirk jokes (plus I’m fresh out at the moment), Howard, Terry and Stackhouse ain’t enough here and Dampier is all they have inside (and he’ll have his hands full with Tyson Chandler). I said it before and I’ll say it again, losing Diop really hurt an already anemic team on the inside. Did I mention Devean “I’m Too Good To Play For The Nets, I’d Rather Stay Here And Go 0-13 From The Field” George plays for the Mavs? My bad, I shouldn’t have. Not to mention West, Stojakovic, Pargo and Peterson are all Hornets and capable of killing you for 20. And we still haven’t solved that little problem of stopping the deserved MVP (35 and 10 in game 1). And I’m about sick of Mark Cuban. Fuckouttahere! Hornets in 6.
MAGIC v RAPTORS
Chris Bosh is the man no doubt (his All-Star pitch commercial was beyond classic) and the Raptors got a nice lil team, but this one is pretty lopsided for two reasons. The Magic are underrated, even in the East, and the Raptors are Aloe & Lanolin 1/4 Moisturizing Cream soft. Their toughest player is 5’10 and 160 pounds (my man TJ Ford). A lot of offensive talent here, but I guess they’re like a slower and softer version of the Warriors. For having such a tough old school coach (Sam Mitchell), you would think his players would be a tad tougher than the lil cute dragon Raptor mascot. No dice. Not when Hedo Turgoglu is the most underrated player in the East (a felony he wasn’t All-Star voted), Rashard can trey em and Nelson can hold his. Keyon Dooling is solid off the bench and Did I mention Dwight Howard? Oops. Minor omission, major sweep of the Raptors. Well nah…Bosh will surely go off a few times. Magic in 5.
SUNS v SPURS
Gotta love the drama carrying over from last years officiating debacle. May as well have The Admiral and The Iceman start reffin the damn games. I obviously am pulling for the Suns, but this is David Stern’s museum. And his prize exhibit is the Spurs. Dirty on the low, but oh so classy and traditional on the surface. They ain’t beatin the Lakers, but they will go far with more boring yet effective basketball. Watching them is pointless unless you’re hopin Steve Nash is gonna Pele kick the shit outta Bowen or Shaq is gonna put Ginobili on flat on his ass. Spurs in 6. Ugh.
CELTICS v HAWKS
It’ll be great to see Joe Johnson finally get some exposure on National TV. He deserves it. This series lives on Broom Street in Boston though. Celtics in 4.