Wednesday, April 15, 2009
NBA First Round Preview: Western Conference
LA Lakers vs. Utah:
What the hell happened to Utah? Two years ago they were in the Western Conference Finals, and now, with largely the same roster, they're an eighth place team that can't win on the road? Not since Franz Ferdinand has a young group with so much potential fallen so far, so fast.
As for L.A., I'm going to go out on a limb with this statement: Jordan Farmar is the best half-Jewish point guard in the NBA today. There it is. I'm not taking it back.
Anyway, the Jazz lost both their games in LA this year by 10+ points, and I see no reason to think that won't happen again. Best case scenario, Utah steals one at home. Lakers in 5.
Denver vs. New Orleans:
I want to pick the Hornets so bad. God, I hate the Nuggets. I hate Kenyon Martin's faux-tough guy act. I hate Carmelo Anthony. I hate Kenyon Martin's lips tattoos on his neck. I hate J.R. Smith. I hate Kenyon Martin's chest-thumping. I hate any team that uses Dahntay Jones as a starter. I hate Kenyon Martin running his mouth all the time when he only ranks fifth on his own team in scoring. I hate that Denver's airport is a solid 45 minutes from the city even with no traffic. I hate Kenyon Martin. I hate Denver.
But they're going to win. Denver in 6.
San Antonio vs. Dallas:
Now things get interesting. San Antonio is missing Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan is hobbled and Dallas is streaking. Look at Dirk's numbers in April: 30 points per game on 55% shooting.
Sure, Tony Parker is going to make Jason Kidd look like one of these, but the Mavs can put Jason Terry on him to even up that matchup.
You know what, I like Dallas in this series. They're peaking at the right time, Dirk is playing like it's 2006, and San Antonio is hurting. And with Denver in Round 2, I wouldn't be surprised to see Dallas in the Western Finals. This team has one more run in them. Dallas in 6.
Portland vs. Houston:
Get ready to see this highlight 477 times over the next two weeks:
That shot set the stage for this Blazers team that stormed into the fourth spot, and solidified Brandon Roy as a major star in this league.
As for this series, the Blazers are deeper than Houston, they can neutralize Yao Ming with Przybilla and Oden (Yao averaged 16 points on 42% shooting in the season series), use LaMarcus Aldridge to make Luis Scola a non-factor, and force Ron Artest to beat them.
But for some reason I have a nagging feeling that Houston can still matchup well against Portland. Artest and Battier will drive Roy crazy defensively. Aldridge and Scola will be a wash. Neither Przybilla or Oden can carry the scoring load if Roy and Aldridge are being handled. Steve Blake will be forced to keep up with Aaron Brooks and Kyle Lowry, and Blake is white. Who carries the scoring load if Houston is shutting down Roy and Aldridge? Not Przybilla and Oden. Outlaw? Maybe. Fernandez? Maybe.
Plus, Portland can't beat good teams on the road, so if Houston steals Game 1 or 2, they have a huge advantage. And if calls start going against Portland, they're finished quicker a virgin on prom night.
This series is going the distance. I'm cheering for Portland. But it's Houston in 7.