The NBA Playoffs: Round 1

I am not a sportswriter.  In another life, I wouldn’t have quit my journalism classes and would have gone on to become the most famous sportswriter in the world, but I was scared to read news out loud on the radio so I changed majors.  So this probably isn’t going to be in depth or accurate or funny or anything…I just like to write about basketball.

I am looking forward to the year, probably 2015, when I can sit down and watch the NBA postseason in its entirety, free of worrying about finals.  Of course, this is the last NBA postseason I will be able to enjoy as a single guy, but…well that’s another discussion for another time.

But this week was the first week I got to sit down and really watch the NBA playoffs, and it has not disappointed at all.  During the first round, it looked like we were due for one of the more boring playoff rounds.  The matchups weren’t exactly marquee, but that doesn’t always happen in the first round of anything.  But you had:

Clippers vs. Grizzlies

Thunder vs. Rockets

Nuggets vs. Warriors

Lakers vs. Spurs

Heat vs. Bucks

Knicks vs. Celtics

Pacers vs. Hawks

Bulls vs. Nets

The Spurs swept the Lakers (which was awesome, because I knew adding Dwight Howard was going to be a train wreck because he is a 7 foot tall 3 year old who destroys teams) and the Heat swept the Bucks (also which was expected) but other than that we got some great series.  I will attempt to break them down in a few sentences (yes I’m fully aware I should have done this a week ago, but…I didn’t.  Sorry.)  Also, I’m ranking them by entertainment value, from least entertaining to most entertaining.

The West

Spurs vs. Lakers

As I said – Dwight Howard is a child and any team trying to build their franchise around him is making a huge mistake.  Pretty much everything about the Lakers is a train wreck right now, and I love that.  But the Spurs rolled on as the model of consistency.  Every time I look at the Spurs, I think “wow, I can’t wait for the year 2000!” And then I realize it’s 2013 and they’ve (seemingly) had the same players since then.

Thunder* vs. Rockets

I don’t know if Patrick Beverley’s play was “dirty” or not.  I don’t think it was, but since Beverley played at Arkansas, I don’t give him the benefit of the doubt and, while I wish no personal harm on the guy, I hope every University of Arkansas player ever has a terrible pro career.**  But that play totally changed the series, and in my opinion, the outcome of the NBA playoffs themselves.  OKC was pretty clearly the second best team in the NBA all year (although a case could be made for the Spurs) with Russ, and without him, they limped (see what I did there?) to a 4-2 series victory over the Rockets, who were fun to watch but really weren’t that good.  They were bad defensively and pretty much all year felt like “Hey, James Harden, go score 50 points and let’s see what happens.”  It sells tickets and generates buzz, but it wasn’t all that great.

Clippers vs. Grizzlies

I don’t like the Grizzlies, and I’m not crazy about the city of Memphis.***  I don’t really care that much about the Clippers either, although I do like Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.  They’re fun to watch.  But they whine a lot, and it was fun to see the more smash mouth style of basketball go up against the more high-flying style the Clippers play.  This series really seemed to be in LA’s favor, but the Grizzlies reeled off 4 straight in impressive fashion.  And I’m glad that Blake Griffin and Chris Paul have more time to make commercials, because the commercials they make are pretty funny.  So good job, LA.

Nuggets vs. Warriors

Steph Curry is the only thing that needs to be said.  Watching him shoot a basketball is simply perfection.  Gallinari being healthy makes this a different series, but since he’s not, we get to keep watching Steph Curry do his thing.

Prediction:

I’m calling Memphis over Golden State in the Western Conference Finals.  With a healthy Westbrook, it’d be OKC, but without Russ, I just don’t see it.  Also, a healthy David Lee might be enough to put Golden State over the top, but alas, it is not to be.  This is not to discredit Memphis in any way – you beat the teams you have to beat.  This is the playoffs in the greatest basketball league on earth.  Nothing is easy.

The East

I’ll be honest – I’m really not interested in any of these series, because the conclusion is already set.  I don’t think anyone can beat the Heat in 7 games.  But anyway:

Heat vs. Bucks

Didn’t watch a single second of this series.

Pacers vs. Hawks

Two evenly matched teams, pretty boring basketball honestly.  I haven’t watched a lot of either team lately, but it seems like the Hawks are pretty stale.  I like the Pacers’ future though.

Celtics vs. Knicks

Not really interesting to me either.  Clearly it’s the end of the current makeup of the Celtics (I can’t see them keeping things the same), but I just don’t care about the Knicks.  In the Round 2 Game 1 loss to the Pacers, Anthony missed as many shots as Lebron did in the entire first round.  So there’s that.

Bulls vs. Nets

I didn’t watch any of this series either.  The Bulls would be a heck of a lot more interesting if they had Derrick Rose, but right now, they’re playing with house money.  Good team, but really…they’re not going much father.  Also, the Nets suck.

Prediction:

Heat over Pacers, probably in 4 games.  That’s really all there is to say.

I’ll recap Round 2 when it’s over!

*I am a fan of the Oklahoma City Thunder.  The thing about my professional loyalties, though, is that they are mostly based around players.  I would love to live in a pro sports city, or even a pro sports state, but I don’t.  So several years ago, one of my college roommates was a huge Texas fan, and he kept talking about this Durant guy.  So I started following him.  I watched him as much as I could in Seattle (I was also on the verge of moving to Seattle at the time), and knew Russell Westbrook from watching him at UCLA, so I just kept following them when they moved to OKC.

**My Ole Miss loyalties run deeper than any professional loyalties.  Go figure.

***I made derogatory remarks about the city of Memphis the other night on Twitter.  It was partially to get a rise out of some Memphis people, which it did, but I really don’t like the city.  It’s okay, and the FedEx Forum is a GREAT venue, but unless there’s a great show there, I don’t see much of a reason to go.  That may change after I get around to a few of the more off the beaten path BBQ joints, but…yeah.  Not crazy about Memphis.

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