The second round of the NBA Playoffs is upon us, with three Game 1's already in the books. Tonight's plate of round two games is two Game 2's: Orlando at Detroit and San Antonio at New Orleans. We still await Game 1 of the Cavaliers/Celtics series, which is set for Tuesday all becuase of those pesky 8th seeded Hawks that pushed the C's to the brink of elimination. Or then again, not really... Boston did win Game 7 99-65. I'm here to address all the second round series in a matter of a few short paragraphs.
Battle Tested, Or New Found Kryptonite?
The Boston Celtics, the team during the regular season that went an astonishing 66-16 making for the biggest single season turn around in NBA history, and also a team that was the best road dogs in the League, now face off against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Semis. Boston had to go through seven games against the Atlanta Hawks in order to make the 2nd round, and I'd say that it was two or three games too many. Before the series started, most were calling for a sweep... I distinctly remember posting some comments on predictions blogs calling for it to go five. I thought the Hawks were too talented to get rolled over, and looks like I was right in a sense. But I also underestimated those Hawks a bit as well. But back on topic here, everything that's been swirling around the Celtics since Game 7's obliteration of the Hawks, has been what to make of the Celtics now. Analysts are trying to find their stance on them; are they better for it having gone through a rough battle, or are they showing they can be met head on and that LBJ and the Cavs are a great team to stop them in their tracks? It's a tricky question. Here's where I draw the line: the Celtics still have Kevin Garnett, the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year; Ray Allen, the League's sharpest shooter; and Paul Pierce, undeniably the playmaker of that team. And to boot, they've still got Cassell and Rondo. The Cavaliers have a bunch of role guys with one definant leader, Lebron James. The Celtics have home court in the series, and really dont have to shut down James, but only manage the rest of his bunch. Keep Boobie Gibson (still cant figure that one out) and Varejao out of the picture and win at home, and the Celtics cruise in six games to meet either the Pistons or Magic. But of course, it wouldnt surprise me if this one went seven just like the Hawks series for Boston.
Keep Your Eyes on Howard, Not the Finals
On Saturday, Game 1 of the series between the Pistons and Magic went into the books as the Pistons took it 91-72 at home. The Pistons are hitting on all cylinders, going back to their final three games of the series against the 76ers. Detroit was only up by one at halftime, and then broke loose outscoring the Magic by six in the 3rd and 12 in the 4th to close it out. Key to the Game: Dwight Howard -- 12 Pts, 8 REB. Talk about shutting him down. Detroit looks to be peaking, with no real brakes in the picture. Dwight Howard should be the main focus for the Pistons defensively, and should not let up in any event. Of course, he is D-Howard aka Superman, so there's no real way of locking him down for an entire series. He's bound to pop out of his shell and hit up the Pistons with a 20-20 game like he did THREE times against the Raptors. So, Detroit... pay no mind to what the Celtics and Cavaliers are doing, just stay the course... right on Howard. Take him out, and you've got yourself a spot in the East Finals.
Pack Your Bags, Utah... You Dont Mess With History
If you had asked me before the Lakers/Jazz series got under way who would've won the series, I would've told you "Lakers in six." This may seem a bit premature, maybe even naive, or hell I'm sure it more than seems this way... but Utah is finished. Yes, they only lost by 11 in Los Angeles in Game 1. But they forgot to guard Kobe Bryant, and forgive me for looking at the stats, but Phil Jackson is 39-0 when winning Game 1. That is, I admit a slanted way of putting it, but you dont mess with the MVP and his Zen Master. And if that isnt enough, we all know how well the Lakers are off with the likes of Pau Gasol in the lineup. Give me Kobe, Gasol, Odom, Phil and Nicholson for the West Finals, please. And maybe just in five games...
Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast
Just like young rockers Airbourne, that are today's carbon copy of AC/DC, the New Orleans Hornets were too much, too young, and too fast for the Spurs in Game 1. The Hornets disposed of the Spurs to the tune of 101-82, holding Tim Duncan to what has to be a low point in his playoff career. How's five points, three rebounds, and one-of-nine from the field sound? God awful is right. Tony Parker did all he could just like Manu but the foursome of David West, Peja Stojakovic, Tyson Chandler and Chris Paul was too dominant. Those four combined for 79 points of their teams' 101, leading the Hornets to a night in which they had five players in double figures. Tyson Chandler did his usual with 10 points and 15 rebounds, throwing in three blocks exercising his dominance in the painted area. Most NBA critics have been pointing towards teams like the Lakers and the Hornets to make the Finals, with just a handful remembering that the Spurs still linger in the West. I've been one as well that looks at the Spurs and sees a champion, but unlike others who may be abandoning ship after Game 1... I still like the Spurs. Game 1 made the idea that the Spurs are too old look to have something to it; I say, there's still three more games for the Hornets to win. The series is yet to head to San Antonio, and do not forget that the Spurs have their own Big 3.
That's it. Not much, just an excuse to blog... feels good.