Playoff time is here, and the West is the best when it comes to matchups fans really want to see. Seeds are in parenthesis.
(1) Oklahoma City vs.(8) Houston: Thunder have a dynamic 1-2 punch in Durant and Westbrook. Problem is, Westbrook’s style of play can be asymmetrical to the offensive flow. Instead of working with K.D., Westbrook seems to work against him. The Rockets would win this series if they played any kind of D! Because they don’t, OKC wins 4-2.
(2) San Antonio vs.(7) L.A. Lakers: This one is hard to call believe it or not. Both Teams are playoff savy and experienced. It doesn’t matter that the Lakers roster has not been together for a long time, or that the Spurs are dealing with a rash of recent injuries as of late. This is a pick em’ series all day long.
(3) Denver vs.(6) Golden State: Denver was a league best 38-3 at home! Not having Galinari put a severe dent in their attempt to go all the way, but that won’t be a problem against the Warriors. Golden State has improved significantly on both ends of the floor under coach Mark Jackson and have one of the league’s most dangerous player’s in Curry. It’ll take more than that to win this series. Denver wins 4-2 in a series that will be played better than the end result.
(4) L.A. Clippers vs.(5) Memphis: Although the Griz’ have been playing well in the absence of Rudy Gay, I still think at some point it will come back to haunt them. Slow it down is the recipe for the Grizzlies. The Clippers outside shooting has been up and down this season, and the interior is inferior to the Griz’ despite Blake Griffin. Memphis wins 4-3; they better not make a fool out of me.
Well, that’s a wrap for this year’s predictions… Let the Madness begin!!
I’ve mentioned before there are only a handful of NBA teams’ who’s style of play could survive- even thrive- were the 3-point line removed from today’s game. The Memphis Grizzlies’ were one of those teams’ until they dumbfoundedly traded away Rudy Gay. I don’t care what anyone says, trading your leading scorer (17.2 pts/g) for the past two seasons, franchise career leader in games, minutes, and steals, for the likes of Tayshaun Prince, Austin Daye, and Ed Davis is straight “Paprikash” if I do say so myself. Not to mention, Gay left Memphis ranked second in points (8,562) second in field goals made (3,293) third in three-pointers made (488) third in free throws made (1,488), third in rebounds (2,758) and fifth in blocks (420). How do you legitimately replace that kind of production? You don’t; especially not with Prince, Day, and Davis.
What bothers me most is that the trade took place at a time when the Grizzlies’ were a strong 4th seed in the Western Conference and legit title contenders this year. Rudy was that guy who could not only guard the other team’s best player- on the perimeter and anywhere else- he was the one player who could successfully and consistently create his own shot! That’s why i’m not surprised the Grizzlies’ have gone 1-3 since the trade. Gay’s presence will be sorely missed; it allowed for all the other pieces to work in a way similar to what Ray Lewis had with the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens. Not necessarily to the same degree, but a strong presence nonetheless. By the way, those three losses since the trade were to the Suns, Hawks, and Thunder; a Thunder team the Grizzlies beat back in November when Rudy completely undressed America’s next favorite Kevin Durant. The Griz’ are currently in the 5th spot and fallin’ fast with Golden State nippin’ at their heels.
I also don’t believe management’s position about Gay not being a “max player” and the over used “luxury tax” argument. Yes the penalties may be punative, and flexability a factor, but the CBA”s(collective bargining agreement) intended “take care of business now, so you don’t get penalized down the road” only applies to those teams’ who have misused their funds from day one. The Grizzlies’ would not have been affected by the ramifications of the luxury tax until two years’ down the road. Surely there are enough intelligent folks in the Memphis organization who could have figured out a way to keep Gay; at least another year anyway. I thought there was a good chance the Grizzlies could surprise come playoff time. I guess the surprise was getting rid of Rudy Gay before his time, and blowing up the franchise like a landmine. What a shame.