Let’s Hoop – NBA First Round Playoff Preview

The A-Train here…I want to bring on our NBA contributor Robyn Browning and she has your preview for the upcoming first round of the NBA Playoffs.

Robyn, the floor is yours.Larry O'Brien Trophy

ROBYN:

The regular season ended on a historic and spectacular note with Golden State setting the record for most wins in the season (73) and Kobe Bryant ending his career with a 60 point effort to defeat the Utah Jazz, thus securing his name as a basketball legend. Now, the playoffs are here and hopefully the NBA will build off the energy of Wednesday night and extend it through the playoffs. Here are my predictions for the first-round series in order of seeding.

Golden State Warriors (1) vs. Houston Rockets (8)

Golden State wins if they keep applying pressure on offense with quick ball movement, pressure defense with closeout double teams, and aggressive rebounding.

Houston wins if they take the red pill from the Matrix and become the team in an alternate reality in which Harden plays defense, more plays are run for Trevor Ariza, and Dwight Howard becomes a 70% free throw shooter.

Players to Watch: Harrison Barnes and Trevor Ariza

My Pick: Golden State in 4

Cleveland Cavaliers (1) vs. Detroit Pistons (8)

Cleveland wins if they become the playoff team we expect them to be. LeBron James will run the point, be efficient from the field, and open up spot-up shooters. Kyrie Irving must contain Reggie Jackson in pick and roll situations.

Detroit wins if they wear down Cleveland through offensive rebounding and pick and roll play with Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond. They must play with the same confidence and fire that led them to defeat Cleveland during the regular season.

Players to Watch: Andre Drummond and Cleveland’s three-point shooters (JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Kevin Love)

My Pick: Cleveland in 5

San Antonio Spurs (2) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (7)

San Antonio wins if they control the tempo and no one gets hurt.

Memphis wins if they transform into the Monstars from Space Jam.

Players to Watch: Danny Green, Spurs bench, and Jordan Farmar vs. Spurs point guards

My pick: San Antonio in 5

Toronto Raptors (2) vs. Indiana Pacers (7)

Toronto wins if they shoot well from the perimeter, drive to the basket, and get to the foul line a lot.

Indiana wins if they win Game 1 and fluster Toronto’s confidence. Indiana’s front court must get Luis Scola and Jonas Valaciunas in foul trouble.

Players to Watch: Toronto’s backcourt vs. Indiana’s frontcourt and DeMarre Carroll (Is he healthy?)

My Pick: Toronto in 5

Oklahoma City Thunder (3) vs. Dallas Mavericks (6)

Oklahoma City wins on talent alone. Russell Westbrook is too much for Deron Williams to handle and Kevin Durant can pour in points by the handful.

Dallas wins if they can contain the Thunder—not outright stop them defensively, outscore them, and coach Rick Carlisle changes the lineup so much that the Thunder stay off balance.

Players to Watch: Wesley Matthews (Can he keep up with Kevin Durant?) and Russell Westbrook (watch for a triple-double game or two)

My Pick: Oklahoma City in 5

Miami Heat (3) vs. Charlotte Hornets (6)

Miami wins if their veterans will use their post-season experience to their advantage and Hassan Whiteside can defend the rim, keep fouls to under control, and wear down Al Jefferson.

Charlotte wins if they forget about the 2013-2014 playoffs when they were swept by the Heat, Kemba Walker’s mid-range game stays great, and Jefferson, Nick Batum, and Marvin Williams lock down Miami defensively.

Players to Watch: Charlotte’s defense and Jeremy Lin and his hair

My Pick: Miami in 6

Los Angeles Clippers (4) vs. Portland Trailblazers (5)

Los Angeles wins if they continue to play with confidence and overpower the Blazers in the post.

Portland wins if Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum break down the Clippers defensively to score inside and outside the paint and set up their teammates for easy shots.

Players to Watch: Lillard vs. Chris Paul (top-notch NBA point guard play) and Clippers bench

My Pick: Clippers in 6

Atlanta Hawks (4) vs. Boston Celtics (5)

Atlanta wins if Paul Millsap takes advantage of the Celtic’s frontcourt, especially on pick and roll plays and make the Celtics run half-court offense.

Boston wins if Isaiah Thomas continues to score as he has for over a month, get Atlanta to turn the ball over, and have more points in transition than half-court.

Players to Watch: Isaiah Thomas vs. Jeff Teague/Dennis Schroder (Teague/Schroder turnover-prone & Thomas can capitalize in a major way)

My Pick: Atlanta in 7

 

You can follow Robyn on Twitter. Her handle is @robynbirdfly.

C’MON BOSTON…GROW UP!!

I know I’m not a big fan of LeBron…BUT fans throwing beer on him, after your team got their butts handed to them by the Heat, is clearly unacceptable. That is so stupid, dumb and if you look at the video, the police officer could see the beer being thrown; so whoever did that should never go to an NBA game ever again. Then again, if the police officer is from Boston they probably would let that slide…just crookedness all around. I hope not. Those idiots need to be thrown in jail. GROW UP CELTICS FANS…YOU’RE BETTER THAN THAT! UPDATE: The video was removed by the user.

The A-Train

 

Boston’s Big 3 vs. Miami’s Big 3

So I’m up this morning and I see an intriguing video piece from a friend on Facebook and it showed the differences between the introductions of the Celtics Big 3 and the Heat’s Big 3. It’s a huge difference…It’s pretty much old school vs. the new school. It’s basically the 1990s vs the early 2000s. That’s hard to believe but it’s the truth. No pun intended for Paul Pierce. Only thing I need to see is the real press conference of the Heat. Don’t get me wrong this video speaks volumes between the two franchises. Meaning mostly LeBron’s comments about the title run for the Heat. So far, LeBron is 0-2 in the NBA Finals. But…these franchises are headed in different directions.  I understand that this is season 2 for Miami, and Boston is in season 5 which means that one franchise is going up and the other is falling from grace fast. So far (as of this post and date) Boston is ahead in titles between Big 3s, 1-0. Will that stand? After Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals…you will get your answer. So what’s the real difference? Penny for YOUR thoughts.

The A-Train

Congratulations To The 2012 NBA Champs…Oklahoma City Thunder!

YEP! It got your attention and trust me I know it’s a bit too soon to say that. I got happy and started writing again. But anyway, this team is the new hottest team in the NBA. I mean “C’mon son!” This team despite all the crap they have dealt from fans and the media. Damn, that makes me a part of all of that. I mean look at the past series; they walked over the defending champs in Dallas, destroyed the Lakers in 5 and ran 4 straight on San Antonio after being dropping the first 2 on the road. If you remember the 2nd game, that loss was very close which meant a turnaround was clearly coming. It’s almost clear that this team…is a team. Timely shooting from (the should have been MVP in) Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook with his significant drives (although mixed with bad shot selection), James Harden and Derek Fisher with their deadly 3-point shots and timely defense from Serge Ibaka, guard Thabo Sefolosha, and Kendrick Perkins.

SIDEBAR: Man (sighs) I wish Thabo was still in Chicago but former coach Vinny Del Negro downplayed him (in my opinion).

Going back N THE ZONE…This Thunder team could be on the brink of a nice playoff run if this team stays together (which will be so tough). This is a strong team. If they have to play the Celtics, I think the Thunder could take them down. The same can be said if they played the Miami Heat, and the TV ratings for this matchup would be stronger and greater than the Celtics. I mean after watching Games 3, 4, and 5, you would think that the Thunder would not let up and have San Antonio force a Game 7. Well, It looked like that wasn’t going to happen in the 1st half, but my father told me that San Antonio was done because all their energy was gone. He was so correct. As I watched that 3rd quarter, the game shifted in the opening minutes. OKC buried shot, after shot, after shot till they were down by only 1. It didn’t stop there. They went harder and harder until there was enough time to celebrate a Western Conference title. I can’t say it enough. This is not because I don’t like the Heaet. This is because the Heat don’t have a team compared to this one. I don’t feel the need to go into detail about stats for this team. This is a team with such championship significance on the roster like Fisher and Perkins. And I think Durant and Westbrook look ready to celebrate a championship in Oklahoma City.

And I don’t think they anyone can stand in their way.

The A-Train

The LeBron Files

The LeBron Files

So instead of my usual NBA 2K12 fix that I usually do after watching a playoff game, I said I’ll just get on my computer and start typing. So, I witnessed a beatdown last night. Am I surprised? Yes I am. I’ll admit it because I really didn’t think the Boston Celtics would clearly NOT show up on their own home floor. I mean DAMN! That’s the reaction that came out. It was over from start to finish. The Heat showed up…well at least the topic of this post did last night with 45 points and sent this series to the most ever popular words known to a man that’s into sports…GAME 7. Yeah it’s coming up Saturday night and that ticks me off because now I’m torn between two events to watch.

But back to the topic at hand.

If you can see the picture above, you can see that this is clearly a picture of Michael and Scottie…and the statements that were made about LeBron. Yeah it’s hilarious because of the silly things that Scottie said. If you remember, Scottie said that LeBron was better than Michael. Take it for what you will but…THAT DUDE WAS NUTS! But anyways…the purpose of this post is to dig in to: THE LEBRON FILES!!!

So I went to do some digging on LeBron and YES, I DISLIKE LEBRICK!! You want to know why? I’ll tell you. Many people have disagreed with this and that’s fine. Go back to the Summer of 2010 with this whole free agency frenzy and LeBron choosing that he was going to the Heat. That’s good. The not so good of making that choice was the whole TV deal from ESPN to do this decision. I said, “WHO IN THE HELL DO HE THINK HE IS?” This decision he was making on national TV would be for charity (I think it was downplayed to cover up himself), what I wanted to get across was…why? That wasn’t needed. Just say I’m going to the Heat and that would be that. I HAVE NOTHING AGAINST CHARITY! REMEMBER THAT PLEASE! But the NBA and ESPN decided to milk in the ratings and cash to get this 1-hour spectacle that was just 1 minute. You lose my respect for that kind of stupidity.  Sorry.

Moving on.

Consider the fact that this is only the 3rd Game 7 he’s ever played in and both times…he lost. Yes, I understand it was with Cleveland but the fact of the matter is…HE’S STILL BEEN THERE. This is his 1st as a member of the Heat and I really think history will repeat himself and he’ll go to 0-3. Even if the Heat get past the Celtic green. They won’t get past the Thunder even though it will really have the clear emphasis of “Must See TV.” With that said, LeBron having an outcome like he did on Thursday showcased that (in my opinion) he won’t have another “beast mode” game like that…at least not at the conclusion of this series. It’s funny because in that game he missed 4 free throws which is something you would think an athlete like him would work on. So the game plan for Boston should be to put him on the line at critical points during the game, mostly the 4th quarter, where he has disappeared numerous times in his playoff career, mostly during his time in Cleveland. I will never forget last year’s NBA Finals. He actually had to have Dwyane Wade literally go off on him and tell him that he needed to step up. THAT’S NOT A SUPERSTAR! That means you are a wingman. Why am I dwelling on the past because…you saw it, right? Time and time again, this guy has no clutch abilities. Even in his beast mode of a game, that was called domination not clutch as Mike Breen of ESPN referred it to. By the way, Mike Breen is a joke as well. It’s sad that I have to hear his voice for the Finals. Give me Kevin Harlan or Marv Albert than that clown. His commentary is worse than his play-by-play. That’s beside the point but the “King” (he really needs to check himself with that name) is a fraud. Here is the “world’s greatest athlete” and he has no clutch abilities to his name. Being passive in a game doesn’t really get you anywhere. To gain some respect you got to do some aggressive things. Not on a one-time showcase like Thursday night but consistently. Right now he’s #2 and shouldn’t have been the MVP of the league, that should have went to Durant (GUNSHOTS GONE OFF). I think the Heat would have been fine if James was not on the court. Just fine. Another thing, I have no idea what world Mr. Wade is living in. If it wasn’t for that the 3rd quarter spurt, one would think he was trying to throw the series. Must be that Gabrielle Union…I don’t know.

Oh yes…I don’t give two spits about what ESPN said about LeBron having more Finals appearances than Michael Jordan did at age 27. Understand THIS situation at hand, Michael didn’t jump in the league until he was 21, LeBron at 18. Ok you still want to believe in LeBron? Michael Jordan won a championship on his very first try. LeBron is 0-2 in the Finals, and Michael never lost a Finals. Chew on that. GOOD DAY!

THE A-TRAIN