The cold north wind shifts south at last in Milwaukee … the sewers sing spring to their gratings … taxes have been (almost) filed as those WE Energies trucks and vans start rolling up and down the block … the Bucks count their lottery balls. …
The neighborhood kids don’t care; they’re warm enough to take the pill outta hibernation and dribble down to the schoolyard, where they can be Kobe one day, Lebron the next … Superman when feeling tall, D-Wade taking it to ’em all,
Ray Allen when shooting the three, saying where’s my main man, KG?
Chris Paul just stole the ball.
Winter seems finally ready to leave, and the NBA playoffs have arrived, not a day too late. This is the best time of year for basketball in the world: the best players on the planet, going at it for nearly two months;
the best coaches (not counting Vinnie Del Coacho in Chicago, Michael Curry in Detroit and “that guy” the Sixers replaced Mo Cheeks‘ with);
the best refs (well, they really are better than the college refs, knowing the difference between a charge and a block, and the vast majority of what they call makes sense — and when they screw up, NBA refs make college refs look like mere misdemeanor criminals);
and a Dark Lord Commissioner, David Stern, who’d like nothing more than the smaller market teams to lose to the bigger market teams, in 7 games, please. Tiny Portland, you’re in for an uphill battle against the Houston Rockets. Chicago, this will not help you against the ever-popular Celtics. In the end, everybody knows that in these tough economic times, the best possible marketing scenario for the NBA is a Kobe vs. Lebron Finals showdown. It would also be the best NBA Finals since … the 2008 Celtics-Lakers final.
The NBA is back, and the league is better than it’s been since Jordan left Chicago for the last time. Getting to the 2009 Finals is going to be an intense drama-rama, especially in the East … which brings this preview first to Boston — where the playoffs tip-off Saturday, 11:30 am central — and the Kevin Garnett injury saga.
Round 1 Previews – The East
Bulls vs. Celtics: Do you believe Doc Rivers when he says KG might not play at all in these playoffs? I don’t. But we can, with most assurances, believe that KG won’t play against the Bulls. In Boston, they’re calling it a long shot that he’ll play at all. This is good news in Chicago, of course, where Blog-A-Bull thinks Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah can find a way to not be intimidated by the other Celtics bigs, Kendrick Perkins and Leon Powe. Sorry Blog-A-Bull, but the Bulls frontcourt is weak, even with the addition of Brad Miller — and don’t underestimate the Celtics bench. Celtics in 5 … 4 if Ray gets hot.
Pistons vs. Cavs: Just checked in on all my favorite Cleveland blogs, and guess what? Not a scratch about the Pistons series. Lebron, if you’re still reading, just get Rip Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace out of the playoffs ASAP. They’ve been the epitome of whiny, basketball selfishness all year and made the most of blaming their woes on Allen Iverson, who’s done for 2009. The Pistons era in the East is over. Cavs sweep.
How about this quote on the Cavs chances from Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck:
“They earned home court, they earned the best record, they are clearly a championship-quality team, and in my opinion they have the best basketball player on the planet right now . . . Mo Williams.”
Heat vs. Hawks: The battle of NBA Sodom vs. NBA Gomorrah for visiting teams. South Beach, Miami, vs. Atlanta nightlife. D-Wade vs. Joe Johnson…. Udonis Haslem vs. Josh Smith. … Mike Bibby vs. who? … Bucks killers Daequan Cook and Jamario Moon? The Hawks are banking on experience they gained in the 2008 playoffs in 7 games against the Celtics. The Heat and Hawks played four tight, low-scoring games this season. The avg.score was 84.5 to 82.5, three of the games won by the Hawks. But I don’t think they can beat D-Wade in a 7-game series. And let’s not forget South Beach and the Heat dancers, who deserve a nice, high profile in Round 2 against the Cavs. Heat in 7. Winner to play the Lebrons.
Sixers vs. Magic: Dwight Howard & the Magic may stumble a bit in this series, but the Sixers aren’t playing very well. They earned the 6th seed by beating the Cavs in Cleveland Wednesday, on a night when Lebron James, Mo Williams and Zydrunas Ilgauskas all sat on the sidelines. Still, the Delonte West-Boobie Gibson-led Cavs came closer to beating the Sixers than our Bucks ever did this season. The Sixers needed OT to take the game.
One, that tells you how good the Cavs are these days — all of them. Two, the Sixers are struggling, and admitting it. Andre Iguodala isn’t happy. Hey John Hammond: Royal Ivey‘s in the playoffs for the first time. Magic in 5 … make that 6. Call it a feeling. I think Iggy and Sixers get a little happy before the Magic finish them off.
West Previews still to come …