It’s set. Thursday night we get a glimpse at the past with the Celtics and the Lakers in game one of the NBA finals. I know the NBA has cha-ching in their ears and $$ in their eyeballs. I don’t remember a time when the NBA playoffs fell nearly perfectly in line with the seeding, almost all home teams advancing, and no upsets except San Antonio over New Orleans. This should be an entertaining finals. My predictions in the NBA and college tourney this year have been uncharacteristically BAD, but even some of the best hitters went through slumps. The only way out of a slump is to keep swinging away.
So here is my call. The Lakers have been playing very well in the playoffs (and most of the season); the Celtics are getting hot at the right moment. That sets up some good basketball. The Celtics have been nearly unbeatable at home, and they have home court advantage. The Lakers have faced tougher competition all season long and in the playoffs. Home court is huge. I gotta go with the Celtics in this one. It will go the distance, Celtics in 7. If the Lakers break the Celtics service, they will be way too strong at home for the Celtics to win. Kobe and the boys will be more likely to win on the road than Garnet’s bunch. So IF the Lakers can take one of the first two from the Celtics, it will be the Lakers in 5. Let’s see if the refs keep cheating for LA as they did in the series against the Spurs, or if they give the Celtics a chance in this one.
How’s that for equivocation?
OK, at this point LA looks to have a stronger position than SA, and Boston looks to have Detroit on the ropes. Both of the #1 seeds (LA and Boston) maintain a straight home advantage. Also, LA has not cracked at home this year, and Boston has only lost once at home. But I have to say that Detroit appears to have the big mo on their side, and if San Antonio had been able to convert their free throws and hold a near insurmountable lead in game one, they would be up 2-1 and would have home court advantage. SA needs to continue to play lights out and keep their foot on LA’s throat once they get a lead. Otherwise, LA will win another come-from-behind classic since they have the very best clutch player in basketball (Kobe). Boston has not looked like a 60 win team this whole playoffs, much less a 66 win team. They broke the jinx and won on the road. Now they have to figure out how to stop McDyess along with all the other vets on the team with so much experience.
Filed under basketball, NBA
LA is taking on San Antonio in the conference finals for the 4th time. So far the Lakers have had the upper hand 3 times, most recently in 2004. The possibility of the classic LA vs Boston final matchup has to have the NBA salivating over the potential revenue and ratings. LA has the home advantage and is playing lights-out right now, so SA will have another huge task ahead of them if they are to advance. The Spurs won at New Orleans last night marking only the 5th time this post season that a road team has won and becoming the first team to advance as a lower seed without home advantage. Their playoff experience was huge!
Detroit will face Boston on the road in the East final. The game features a superstar stacked Boston Celtics team that was thrown together this year to make a run at the championship vs the veteran defense-oriented Detroit team that has gone to battle together numerous times in the playoffs. They always tend to play to the level of their competition so this should be a hard fought series. Detroit has won on the road and Boston has not. I believe Detroit can take Boston out, but it’s going to be nasty. I don’t think they have a legit chance at winning without Billups. I’m sure the rest was beneficial, so Detroit is probably thanking Cleveland for stretching the series to 7 against the Celtics.
I am going to equivocate here but my head tells me LA will take out SA in 7 and Boston will advance in 7 as well. These are two evenly matched series though. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see SA or Detroit steal one on the road and take their series. I’m pulling for SA in the long run.
The Marlins have a lower team salary than some individual players’ salaries in the league, however, these young guys are doing the unthinkable. They’re in first place in the division, and have now won 6 in a row. On two occasions I have been burned as a fan of the Florida Marlins. The fire sale in 96 was within days of the first championship. That hurt really bad. Then after a few years, this team puts together another great run, wins another championship, and one after another pieces of that championship are traded away for young and cheap talent. Here we are again, in first place with some decent talent. They just signed Ramirez to 6 years 70 million. I am sure that he won’t be a Marlin much longer, but maybe we can find some way to squeeze out a championship.
As for the NBA, the Celtics have yet to win a single road game. Can they win a championship without winning on the road? I don’t think so.
I admit, I would love to see a return of the greatest NBA rivalry ever with the Celtics taking it to the Lakers, but the Lakers are now tied 2-2 with the Jazz out west, and the Celts can’t win on the road.
The Pistons have shown an ability to win without Billups and that really is a good sign if you are a Piston’s fan. If they get rolling, they can challenge in the east. With the help of some bad calls and a bit of choking from Orlando, they squeaked out a 90-89 win on the road to go up 3-1.
The Spurs are back on track with a solid win against the Hornets. The series stands 2-2, but the Spurs have to win one in New Orleans to take the series. It’s a tall order, but I have faith in Duncan, Manu, and TP.
- Round 1 is in the books. All the favorites have advanced. I don’t know when the last time that has happened, but I will have to research it.
- Round two is going to be excellent. All the match ups are exciting. I am particularly interested in the east with Detroit playing Orlando and Celtics against the Cavs.
- The Cavs and the Celtics each won their regular season home games. The season record is 2-2.
- The Lakers beat Utah Jazz and have yet to lose a game in the playoffs. Victor is ecstatic.
- The Celtics avoided the biggest choke in NBA history beating the Hawks in game 7 to advance to round two. Essentially, the Celtics have to win the championship this season or it would be monumentally disappointing to the city of Boston. First the Patriots put together the most dominating regular season in NFL history and lose the championship. Now you have the Celtics with the third best record in NBA history. They have to win the title or this will only be a smidge less disappointing than the choke job the Patriots came up with this year. Could Boston handle the embarrassment for a second time in the same year?
- KG looked like a TE laying a blindside block on a corner trying to defend the double reverse. I forget who he put the pick on, but he laid his shoulder into it and leveled the poor guy.
- The defending champion San Antonio Spurs are down 1-0 against the Hornets. ESPN speculates that if SA loses game 2, it’s over! I don’t if I would take it that far, but certainly SA does not want to lose game 2!
Yesterday, it was the Cleveland Cavs over the Wizards in the east now up 3-1, the Suns avoided the sweep moving to a 3-1 deficit by blowing out the Spurs, New Orleans pushed forward to a 3-1 lead winning against Dallas, and with the win against the Sixers Detroit ties the series 2-2 and avoided going down 3-1 in a series they should not be struggling with. In the other series, Orlando is up 3-1 against Toronto, the Lakers might be ready to sweep the Nuggets up 3-0, Boston is up 2-1 against Atlanta, and the Jazz hold a 3-1 advantage over Houston.
If you go by historical statistics, the Lakers and the Spurs are locks to move on. No team has ever come back from 3-0 to win an NBA series (0 for 81 attempts all time), and only 3 teams have come back to tie. Only 8 teams in history have come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a series with the Phoenix Suns being the last team to do so in 2006 against the Lakers.
What does this mean? Nothing really. Records are meant to be broken. It would be great to see some lowly team like the Hawks beat the Celtics, or the Nuggets to become the first team in NBA history to come back from an 0-3 deficit (They would become only the fourth 8 seed in NBA history to beat a 1 seed, if they can get past that never-before-done comeback from 0-3). These series are not over until that 4th game is won. Until then, history is only history. Papers and stats do not win games. No team is safe or eliminated until the series is over. But the reason the 0-3 comeback has never happened, the 1-3 comeback rarely happens, and the 8 seed almost never beats the 1 seed is because the teams going up 3-0 and 3-1 are obviously the better team. The 1 seed is usually light years ahead of the 8. That’s what is so surprising about the east this year. The 1 seeded Celts and 2 seeded Pistons are so much stronger than the rest of the east that they should be cruising. Instead, the Celts have dropped one of the first 3 games of the series to a mediocre at best Atlanta team and the Pistons with the second best record in the NBA were down 1-2 against a team with a losing record. They even had to struggle just to tie the series at two a piece.
In the long run, I fully expect the Lakers, Hornets, Jazz, and Spurs to advance in the West. The Spurs might struggle a little to put away a tough Suns team. I also expect the Cavs, Pistons, Celtics, and Magic to advance in the east setting up some really cool matchups.