By: Rob Botts
The postseason. Where legends are made and chumps are exposed. It’s what we live for as fans and certainly what the players live for if they are worth their roundball salt. The playoffs are where everything gets condensed and intensified. Where the court shrinks and the lanes look like 3 pm in the afternoon on the 405 freeway out here in Los Angeles. Where chicken wings are promptly served up on a platter to anybody trying to swoop to the drive-thru hoop for a bucket. Player rotations are tightened to that special number 8 and the media surrounds the teams with salivating anticipation of the player’s next answer to their direct question. This is the time. Let’s take a look at what is about to unfold and get a quick fun take on each of the matchups.
CAVS – PACERS
There is only one “Big O” in the history of pro basketball (Oscar Robertson in case you really didn’t know the answer to that one) but Victor Oladipo’s O is really fun to watch. The “human spin cycle” has kept Indiana as one of the most fun and surprising teams in the east to watch this past season and he is not afraid of anybody. But, the Pacers are playing the one-man wrecking crew that has been LBJ the last month or two with the Cavs. LeBron will triple dub stomp out Indiana while the Pacers will be kicking and screaming the whole way out of the 1st round.
BUCKS – CELTICS
Brad Stevens just keeps doing his “best coaching in the league” thing year after year no matter what happens. Lose one of our best players(Gordon Hayward) in game one? No problem. Lose our best player and future in Kyrie Irving due to knee surgery? No big deal. The Bucks got rid of “The Kidd”(Jason Kidd) but have had a nice boost in veteran Jason Terry’s play this season while picking up super athlete Eric Bledsoe and finally getting back Jabari Parker. Oh, and then there is that Greek Freak guy as well. This is an official “upset alert.” I said alert, I didn’t say it was going to happen…but it could. Nah, Celts advance.
SIXERS – HEAT
Oh, how Pat Riley STILL is probably cursing LeBron’s name for leaving the dynasty he was building in south beach. Pat has a book out detailing the ongoings of that time frame and seems to lately be TRYING to put it all in the past and keeping himself in a good place to maybe, just maybe try and lure on King free agent back to Florida? Maybe? Ok, enough what ifs. Let’s get down to the reality of the situation. The Heat just don’t have enough to beat a red-hot Philly team that his hitting everything in site from downtown. There is only one “Rain” Ellington on the Heat and that ain’t enough of a 3 point response. Sixers advance.
RAPTORS – WIZARDS
Ok, is Toronto not the weakest one seed you have seen in quite some time? Don’t get me wrong, I love what the dinosaurs have done this year in terms of taking some steps forward but the main issue is what they do with their feet when one Mr. LeBron James is standing in front of them. They get really heel friendly and end of finding themselves on their back and out for the count. The Raptors have improved and will definitely handle a Wizards team that has been going only in one direction for quite some time now.(down, in case you haven’t been watching) But, what will Toronto do when they have to eventually face their nemesis in Cleveland? Well, let’s not worry about that just yet. Raptors easily get past the Wizards.
ROCKETS – WOLVES
The Timberwolves have been underachieving all year even though they have a bunch of nice wolves in the den. They had to take out a really tough and talented Denver Nugget team on the last day of the season just to get it in. All of that to just get served up to a Houston team that has some things to prove and seemed primed to do so. James Harden is at the top of that list. The soon to be MVP will have to show that he is more Tom Brady than Peyton Manning in terms of regular season translating to the postseason. Oh yeah, and then there is Mike D’Antoni and Chris Paul. Both need to dial up some Ws in the postseason and if the Rockets don’t line up all the Ws into one big ring at the end..Sorry coach, those “most wins in franchise history” won’t mean much to a franchise that already has a couple of championship banners in the building. No need for worrying about round one though Houston fans. Rockets will blast into the 2nd round.
WARRIORS – SPURS
Even though the Spurs don’t have “The Claw” with them for this series, or maybe even ever again(see internal team turmoil) they do still have LaMarcus Aldridge who has played out of his mind / old school Portland days lately. He has carried the team along with 40 going on 20 Manu Ginobili who has been his usual tough, gutsy and clutch this season. Even though the Spurs have revenge on their collective minds, the Warriors, even without their 2 time MVP Steph Curry out until the 2nd round, have enough in one Kevin Durant and surrounding pieces to take care of the Spurs.
JAZZ – THUNDER
The Jazz have been the surprise team of the season and a very nice story. The Thunder have been a disappointment as much was expected from the team having their own version of a “big three” in Melo, Westbrook, and George. Utah’s defense has been smothering over the final stretch of the season and the Thunder do not shoot the ball well from the perimeter which could set up for a 1990’s bully ball ugly low scoring series. BUT, I think Westbrook wills them to a series win while that “real rookie” Donovan Mitchell get’s his.
TRAILBLAZERS – PELICANS
Does Anthony Davis, “The Brow” not look like the best player in the league when he is on? Seriously? The guy can do everything and is still so young. Philly’s Ben Simmons doesn’t “have next”, Mr. Davis does. That being said, and even though the Pelicans have had a nice second half of the season without their other big dude DeMarcus Cousins, Portland is just the better team that has two guys in the backcourt in C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard who can each drop 50 on any given night. “Rip City” will take care of New Orleans move on to the second round.
Enjoy the 2nd season basketball fans!