6 Things we KNOW about the 2011 Playoffs (or THINK we know, anyway)

Man, this season sucked didn’t it?

Anyway, we managed to trudge ahead and do out fair share of writing about it, all leading up to the real season, the one that counts and whatnot.

So yeah, we aren’t gonna do series-by-series predictions and all that because, really, I’m pretty sure it’s been covered elsewhere.

Instead, we’ve opted to narrow it down to the things we feel strongly about. Feel free to call us dummies later on if we were off the mark.

I know I would.

For the record, I can ASSURE YOU this was written last friday, but circumstances prevented us from posting it before today.

Hey would I lie?

Portland is the proverbial ‘Team you wouldn’t want to to face in the Playoffs” that I actually wouldn’t mind facing

I mean, not to be a cynical dickhole or anything, but the prospect of playing a team that hasn’t won a playoff series and is the living, breathing embodiment of bad luck is not exactly the kind of thing that would keep me awake nights.

Sure, they’ve played well down the stretch and Gerald Wallace was a great pick up, blah blah blah.

Let’s face it, odds are about 50/50 that Brandon Roy’s knee just falls out of his leg on a drive or Marcus Camby lays an egg (as in, literally drops an egg out of his shorts) at the Free Throw line.

Fucks sake people, they ain’t the FRAIL BLAZERS for nothin’.

Betting against nothing calamitous happening to portland is wishful thinking at best and outright naive at worst.

– Come on now – Atlanta ain’t winning shit.

Well, maybe a game or two, but I’ve seen more than my fair share of articles that think the Hawks are going to “sneak up” on Orlando and take the series. Obviously, the Magic have had their share of issues this year and don’t appear to be on the same level as previous years, but the core of that group is still as battle-tested as nearly any team in the league. They’re probably the best example of a team (other than L.A. and Boston) that has the potential to turn it up when it matters.

With that in mind, forget the regular season. Forget the success that Atlanta had against Orlando. It doesn’t matter. Furthermore, why in the hell would anyone trust the Hawks to do anything… ever? It’s virtually the same group as recent years past, and those teams got MURDERED. KILLED DEAD. This year’s team is arguably worse than those, as well.

The ONLY chance that Atlanta possibly has actually rests on the broad, weirdo shoulders of Dwight Howard. If he goes into “idiot mode,” which apparently isn’t too far away from his normal demeanor, and he techs himself out of games, gets ejected, and quits, then things are different. But I’m going to say he’ll keep it together just enough to get the Magic to the next round.

Tip for the Hawks, though – go straight at Hedo. Every time.

Prepare for some New York nonsense.

Like we haven’t heard enough of it all year, but it’s about to go through the roof. BOSTON. NEW YORK. SPIKE LEE. SOMEONE FROM THE WORLD OF MODERN R&B. Additionally, Boston’s having a few issues and everyone is still willing to ignore the gaping holes that New York has because of MELO, AMAR’E, etc. God damn DIRTY BRUCE (Bowen) picked the Knicks to go to the EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS. I’d be completely floored by this prediction, but it’s Bruce… so it’s just sort of par for the course.

Anyhow, since the series hasn’t started, we’re getting an earful from the likes of Kenny Smith and, OF COURSE, Mark Jackson on what it means to have a SUPERSTAR player who is the best mid-range scorer, bully-ball playing, prime-time, President of the United States of Basketball, and so on. Just imagine what will happen in the case of the likely scenario that New York gets a game somewhere along the way. “THIS is what [we’ve] been talking about,” they’ll say. Other quotes you may hear include, “… the complexion of this series has changed dramatically,” “… the Knicks acquired the big players for big plays for this very reason,” and “… I wasn’t as good of a player as my attitude and arrogance would lead you to believe.” Alright, so the last one won’t happen, but it would be refreshing.

Wanna know what’s ironic? The pre-trade Knicks were a tougher matchup for Boston, overall, than the current group. Seriously. Melo and company will make the Celts work (on one end of the floor), but the group of “expendables” that New York had at the start of the season was full of run-and-gun guys, dudes who could shoot it, and the perfect combination of players who executed well in D’Antoni’s system. They could have had the likes of Pierce and Garnett with their hands on their knees by the time the 2nd quarter rolled around. Don’t get me wrong – neither version was going to beat Boston. However, all you can expect from these Knicks is some plodding play with a few big shots here and there, and the type of defense that will allow Paul Pierce to get whatever shot he wants with relative ease, followed by a bunch of stupid gestures. And I hate that.

Oh well. Take solace in the fact that you’ll only have to put up with it for one round.

– Lebron James and/or D-Wade will say something

These guys are the undisputed kings of this, right now. I understand that the sporting world (or just the world, for that matter) is full of idiots and self-absorbed egomaniacs, but Wade and James have been setting a new weird standard. Wade’s sad-faced, “y’all are getting what you wanted” talk is always fun. Lebron never says anything of any tangible value. Never. He’s literally an encyclopedia of sports-speak. You can take any response of his, swap it out with another one of his responses, and it works just fine. Here are some to choose from:

– “We just need to make plays.”
– “We have to go out and execute for 48 minutes.”
– “We need to put the pressure on them.”
– “It’s about making shots.”
– “Ya know, it is what it is.”

Nothing specific. Nothing relative to the actual circumstances of the game. Of course, this is true of 95% of the NBA players (I always get irrationally excited when a player demonstrates some sort of actual insight), but James/Wade are the biggest dudes in the biggest spotlight, and they can’t ever come up with anything that makes you think their brains are working above anything other than “MINIMUM.”

So, when Miami starts getting down and eventually loses, I fully expect moping, pouting, crying, and short-answers. Wade will probably call the Heat the “Black Panthers of the NBA.” Lebron will bite his nails and do weird things with his mouthpiece. They’ll likely compare their experience to death or 9/11 or the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster or some shit.

At least Chris Bosh demonstrates the capacity to think and speak with some introspection and perspective. They should just let him talk.

– The new blood officially takes the helm.

Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook are talked about together all the time. The two are often compared, and debates constantly spring up regarding their abilities. They are the future. Big, hyper-athletic point guards who finish with the best of them and give everybody pure hell. Both have their inefficient qualities, but both have shown the ability and desire to work on their weaknesses. Both, in my opinion, are set to elevate themselves into elite status with monster playoff performances.

Rose is widely-regarded is already there. He’s the likely MVP and is a tireless force and leader. Westbrook is of the same mold, but hasn’t had the same opportunities because he’s simply not the focal point of the offense on a team with Kevin Durant. I look at these two and see a couple of lions. Both have incredible intensity and a massive amount of desire. Neither quits. Neither takes a play off.

I expect Rose to parlay his regular season campaign into a jaw-dropping set of performances against the elite of the East. I also think Westbrook is locked and loaded, and about to give teams like Denver and Los Angeles fits. Ty Lawson… Tony Parker… Steve Blake… Derek Fisher. I can guarantee you that one (and possibly all) of these players will never want to see Russell Westbrook again after this is all over.

In terms of actually getting a ring, both are likely to come up short. However, that won’t be because of a lack of championship-caliber play from either. Get a good taste of these two and pray that you like the flavor, because you’re getting more servings in the future…

(… how cheesy was that?)

Seriously though, Chris Paul is great, but he’s lost a little something for now. Deron Williams is lost. Steve Nash had a great run. But it’s the Rose/Westbrook era now (I’ll even give you Rajon Rondo, if you’re down with him). They ought to just relaunch that series of old video games, like “Jordan vs. Bird,” and come out with “Rose vs. Westbrook.”

While they’re at it, release “James vs. Bryant” (we all know how those games would go) and, for kicks, “Hedo vs. Peja,” just so you can control how two guys sit on a couch, drink, order pizzas, and shoot threes. 

– This year’s postseason will be one of the better ones we’ve seen in quite some time.

There’s really no way around it. There’s the reigning champs and their arch-rival (Los Angeles, Boston). There are the teams of the future, looking to take huge steps (Chicago, OKC). There’s the spectacle that is the Miami Heat. There are crafty veteran teams that you can’t ever count out (San Antonio, Orlando). Intriguing first-round matchups (Thunder/Nuggets, Mavericks/Blazers). Certain, massive, later-round showdowns. Stars everywhere. Well-built teams everywhere. This is what it’s all about, friends.

In the end, I still have to go with a rematch of last year’s epic Finals. I expect impressive showings from the likes of the Bulls and the Thunder, both of whom will ultimately fall short but warn you, in the process, that they’re going to be heard from for a very long time. I ultimately have to side with experience and history. Of course, things like injuries and other unforeseen developments can shake it all up, but my gut says Lakers/Celtics, again.

The only difference is that I’ll go with the Lakers in six this time. Assuming Andrew Bynum is fine, I just see Los Angeles having their way with Boston in the post. No more Kendrick Perkins, and a combination of O’Neals that is big and old. Kobe didn’t have his best year and is declining (still better than the vast majority of the league), but he’s always turned into a transcendant performer in the playoffs and I think there’s more of that to come. Boston will also get their monumental efforts from the usual suspects, and obviously won’t go down easily, but I’m still feeling Phil Jackson and company to do it one more time.

I also think Matt Barnes might punch Paul Pierce at some point. Not an advocate of violence here, but come on, it’s Pierce.


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