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Epth is a state of mind, not a place. Reading this will give you a virtual drivers license in that state, but you'll still need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. And you can't get any there anyway, so stop asking.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Welcome to the NBA Playoffs

We've arrived at the only time in the NBA that is enjoyable to watch. There will be no more superstars taking plays off, and no more matador defense on drives to the hoop. There will be no more 4-games-in-5-nights tiredness-fests, and no more LeBron or Kobe one-man-teams. It's called the playoffs, baby, and it's the only thing about the NBA that is in any way fan-tastic.

This year's edition of the playoffs is rife with mystery and fun. First of all, the defending champs are the decidedly non-super Detroit Pistons, who won last year based on stifling defense and a Team Concept. Conventional wisdom says that Supahstars trump all that, and we've got them all over the place. There are superstars in new places -- Nash is in Phoenix, Shaq is in Miami, Webber's in Philadelphia, Vince Carter is trying now and in New Joisey, McGrady's in Houston with Yao, and the list goes on and on. What this means is that nobody really knows what's going to happen in the playoffs. There are favorites, but for the first time since the second Kobe/Shaq year, we don't really know whether they should actually be favorites or not. Is Detroit really that good? Is San Antonio really that good? How hurt are Duncan and Shaq? Is Phoenix going to be able to win in the playoffs like they did in the regular season? Is Seattle as good as they were earlier in the year or are they as bad as they were later in the year? Will Dallas' lack of experience help or hurt them? Will Indiana be able to do anything with the black cloud of The Fight hanging over them? Is Dwyane Wade for real? How about that Ben Gordon?

So many questions, and I will now attempt to answer them.
(my wife thinks this whole sports predicting thing is silly. I would tend to agree, especially when I'm this bad at it. But it's in my blood, and I have to do it. It's a question of bragging rights -- bragging to nobody in particular. Bragging to the sports community. She's right, that is silly.)

First Round
The Wade/Shaqs (1) vs. the Kidd/Carters (8)

Shaq may miss the first game. Shaq may be kinda hurt the entire series, in fact. Kidd and Carter have come on strong as of late. Vince Carter once dropped over-50 games twice in one series. Remember that? Anyway, if you think that all this means the Nets have a chance, you're crazy. They might win a couple of games, but overall this Nets team isn't even as good as last year's Nets team. This will be Lakers/Nets all over again. Dwayne Wade will have a playoff coming-out party, and the Nets will go home and realize they live in New Jersey.
Verdict: Heat in 6

The College All-Star Team Bulls (4) vs. The Washington Weirdos (5)

This Washington team is the strangest collection of players I've ever seen on a team that doesn't totally suck. I mean, their three best players are 2 "tweener" guards and a freaky forward who scores 20 points a game with slashes and put-backs. If the Bulls were healthy, I would have to pick them even with their youth and inexperience. Since 2 of their 3 frontcourt starters are out, I think that Washington will be able to outscore them in enough games to win. This will make me kinda sad, since the turnaround of the Bulls is a great story that I think should continue. It will have to continue next year, however.
Verdict: Washington in 6

The Defending Champs (2) vs. The Allen Iversons (7)

Here's the thing: Allen Iverson is such an incredible talent with incredible gansta heart, it will be very sad to see his one-man show blown off the court by the Team Concept of Detroit. The X-Factor is of course Chris Webber, who is a great talent in his own right. Even if Iverson and Webber somehow totally gel overnight and become a Super Duo, it still won't be enough. Detroit has too much defense and too much relentless athleticism for Philadelphia to even hope to deal with.
Verdict: Pistons in 5

Lucky Sports Town (3) vs. The Brawl Team (6)

Why don't I believe in this Celtics team? They have the best player in the series in Pierce, another complimentary star who plays with great heart (at least for the Celtics) in Walker, and a bunch of good role players. They're built for a playoff run. Why do I keep thinking the Pacers will win? Reggie Miller still has to play a big role in the offense, for pete's sake. The Pacers have Jermaine O' Neal and the insane Stephen Jackson, the aforementioned elderly Miller and dust-farting Dale Davis. It'll be a close series -- can this Indiana team really win a game 7 in the hellhole that is Boston? I say yes.
Verdict: Pacers in 7

Steve Nash's Wet Hair (1) vs. Jason Williams' lack thereof (8)

Forget about Memphis being the team nobody want to face in the first round because of their "depth". Depth will get them exactly what it gave them last year -- a first round exit. They're not nearly good enough defensively to deal with this Phoenix team, and won't score enough to make up for it. Pau Gasol may be able to dominate at the Olympics, but this is the NBA, and they'll get all up in your jersey here. Also, J-Will isn't the right player to take advantage of Nash's defensive deficiencies. That will come later.
Verdict: Phoenix in 5

The Nowitski Force (4) vs. The McGrady Bunch (5)

One of the biggest questions at the beginning of the year was: Will the McGrady trade pay off for the Rockets? The answer turned out to be yes, although Yao didn't really live up to his part of the bargain. It's tough to know what Yao will do in the playoffs, since he's not really the type of player that can dominate by himself. He's not Shaq. Of course, Yao ultimately doesn't matter because this Dallas team is a steamroller that has caught fire and is now flattening and burning its competition. Dirk may not even have to show up, with how well they've been playing.
Verdict: Dallas in 5

The Best Team Spurs (2) vs. The George Karl Experience (7)

I don't hate people, but if I did, high up on that list of people I hate would be George Karl. Actually, I can't really hate him. He gave the Bucks some good times before attempting to destroy them. Having said that, this is easily the most interesting series of the first round -- it's the best team (Spurs) vs. the hottest team (Nuggets), and the best team's best player isn't 100%(not to mention the Karl vs. Glenn Robinson angle, which is personally my favorite part). This is also the same Spurs team that has been known to lose to vastly inferior teams in the playoffs (like the Lakers last year). The main question is: Will San Antonio's defense give the newly unselfish Nuggets fits, or is it the other way around? If the Nuggets won, it would blow these playoffs wide open...
Verdict: Spurs in 7

Ray Allen, Esquire (3) vs. The Freshmakers (6)

If these two teams were playing other teams in the West, I would pick them both to lose. Seattle is beat-up and sliding quickly; everyone seems to think their early-season success was a fluke. Sacramento is beat-up and not that great anymore. In the end, do I trust Bibby-Mobley-Peja or Ridenour-Allen-Lewis? Is this even a valid question?
Verdict: Sacramento in 6

Which by my account leaves us with:
Miami vs. Washington
Detroit vs. Indiana
Phoenix vs. Dallas
San Antonio vs. Sacramento

I'm not going to predict those series until later, but I will let you know that if poked and pressed enough, I would end up picking a Finals of Miami-Dallas. That's all I'm going to say about that.


  • At 7:57 PM, Blogger Danny said…

    How ya doing? Good I hope.
    Have to ask: did you play out all of these games in NBA Live? Or are these all just educated guesses? If they are That's a lot of knowledge up there. I am starting to think that you are truly a jack of all trades...kudos to you-dos.
    Seriously though; thanks for being the only one to respond to my rants.
    If I wasn't thinking about the important stuff then I'd feel as though I was just floating by...which i sort of am. Okay, so you make me feel like I'm floating by, but that I am doing a wonderful job of balancing the soda on my belly as I float, whereas everyone else is letting them slide of the sides. Amateurs. And then you come along with one of them coolers with built in cupholders on it's own raft...ya make it look so easy.
    Take care.

  • At 10:58 AM, Blogger Mike Pape said…

    I assure you this is nothing to be proud of...I just enjoy basketball and listen to a sports talk radio station here in Dallas, so I get to follow it by default. I like the Milwaukee Bucks. It is my curse, but I don't make a big deal about like those Cubs fans. Wait -- are you a Cubs fan? Do you watch Japanese baseball with the Yamaguchi Swallows or whatever? Do people there talk about Ichiro 24/7 during the baseball season like China talks about Yao Ming? Now that I think about it, there's probably a lot of things about Japan I want to know, and you could clue me in. i'll have to think of some questions.

    And thanks again for the kind words.

  • At 7:42 PM, Blogger Danny said…

    The whole Ichiro thing is a little strange if you ask me. They are freakin' obsessed with the boy. Well, he and Matsui (sp?) of the NY Mets. The women like Ichiro and the men like Matsui; because Ich is hot and Matsui is good...I guess. But I do hear way to much about it. I do rather enjoy to watch the occasional baseball game in my favorite Chinese Rest (where I am about 5 out of twenty meals a week). I am made to like the Hanshin Tigers...I have no choice in the area that I am living. If I don't like the Tigers then the Yakuza chops off my pinky finger.

    Good luck with that basketball...oh yeah, and GO Cubs! (is Sandberg still with them? What about Dunston?)


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