Thursday, April 20, 2006

NBA Playoff Wish List

Right around the time the Knicks traded away Patrick Ewing for Glen Rice, Luc Longley, Travis Knight, Vernon “Mad” Maxwell, Lazaro Borrell and Vladimir Stepania, I traded in my NBA fan-for-life membership card and downgraded myself to casual fan status. For that reason, I’m giving you my NBA Playoff Wish List, where I list my preferred outcomes, regardless of any realistic chances of those actually happening. In short, I think the NBA has sucked for about a decade now and I’d like to see a more exciting playoff season than the ones of recent memory…

Eastern Conference

Detroit (1) vs. Milwaukee (8): I’d love to see the Bucks pull off the upset. I have a lot of respect for the Pistons and I think they’re a generally humble and professional bunch but I’m just kind of tired of them already. I’ve never liked Flip Saunders and he’s always been the master of the first round exit so I’m hoping that Michael Redd catches fire and that Andrew Bogut gets nasty with Ben Wallace. Hope – Bucks in 7. Reality – Pistons in 4.

Miami (2) vs. Chicago (7): This is just a bad place for me to be. I absolutely loathe Pat Riley and Shaquille O’Neal. The former is a snake who would sell out his mother and the latter is a fat piece of crap who long ago gave up on the idea that, you know, for $20M a year, he actually had to be in shape. Plus, I always thought he got a pass from the national press in the whole Kobe/Shaq/Phil Lakers-breakup thing. I do like Dwayne Wade, however, so I look forward to him shining as he’s done all season. Opposing the Heat are the Chicago Bulls, another team I just can’t root for. I hate Jerry Reinsdorf and I’m no fan of the Bulls’ wretchedly boring style of play. Hope – Bulls in 6. Reality – Heat in 5.

New Jersey (3) vs. Indiana (6): This one’s a no-brainer for me. I love Jason Kidd’s style of play. I find Rick Carlisle to be a joyless man and his team has taken on their coach’s personality. Peja Stojakovic plays no D but the Pacers need him on the floor to open up the inside for Jermaine O’Neal. I think Richard Jefferson’s strength and quickness will be enough to keep Peja contained. Hope – Nets in 4. Reality – Nets in 6.

Cleveland (4) vs. Washington (5): Life is unfair. If I had my way, this would be the matchup in the Eastern Conference Finals. I love Gilbert Arenas, I love coach Eddie Jordan’s up-and-down style and I love his interpretation of the Princeton offense. All of that is trumped by my love of all things James. LeBron James is the only thing keeping me interested in the NBA these days. Having seen him in person a few weeks ago at Madison Square Garden, I am completely smitten by his talent. I love the kid and I hope it all works out for him in Cleveland. Hope – Cavaliers in 6. Reality – Cavaliers in 7.

Western Conference

San Antonio (1) vs. Sacramento (8): Another matchup in the same vein as Detroit/Milwaukee. I have nothing against Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili or Tony Parker but I have major Spurs fatigue. The Spurs are about as boring as the NBA gets these days. I don’t have much love for the Kings but for the sake of change, I’d love to see the Spurs go down. Hope – Kings in 5. Reality – Spurs in 5.

Phoenix (2) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (7): Another no-brainer for me. Phoenix plays the most TV-friendly game I’ve ever seen. They get up and down the court and keep the game fast-paced and exciting. Although I admit that Kobe Bryant’s singular dominance is fun to watch, he’s impossible to root for. Hope – Suns in 5. Reality – Suns in 5.

Denver (3) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (6): I’m very torn here. Both teams are fairly likeable and easy to root for. Carmelo Anthony is a star and fun to watch with the game on the line. The Clippers are so new to this playoff thing that I’m finding it hard to stay off the bandwagon. Plus, guys like Sam Cassell and Chris Kaman are such characters. Hope – Clippers in 6. Reality – Nuggets in 6.

Dallas (4) vs. Memphis (5): I hate the city of Dallas. I hate Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. I hate Mavericks GM (and former coach) Don Nelson. I absolutely detest Dirk Nowitzki and the way he screams at his teammates like a petulant brat. Not that Memphis is terribly interesting to me, but I gotta go with who I hate least here. Hope – Grizzlies in 5. Reality – Mavericks in 5.

Hopeful Eastern Conference Finals – Nets vs. Cavaliers; Cavaliers in 6.
Realistic Eastern Conference Finals – Pistons vs. Heat; Pistons in 6.

Hopeful Western Conference Finals – Suns vs. Clippers; Suns in 5.
Realistic Western Conference Finals – Spurs vs. Suns, Spurs in 5.

Hopeful NBA Finals – Suns vs. Cavaliers, Cavaliers in 7.
Realistic NBA Finals – Spurs vs. Pistons; Pistons in 7.

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