Now that both the East and West contestants of what is the 2013 NBA Playoffs are set, here’s my take on the winners/losers of each matchup starting with the East. Seeds are in parenthesis.
(1) Miami vs. (8) Milwaukee: LeBron (DNP), Wade (DNP), and Bosh (DNP); Miami still wins 4-0. The Heat have 3 of the Olympic starting 5; Bucks have Jennings, Ellis, and a bunch of no names. The Heat should have been granted a first-round bye. That’s how horrible this series will most likely turn out.
(2) New York vs. (7) Boston: The Celtics should not be underestimated because of their age. Doc Rivers knows all to well – as do his players- what playoff basketball is all about. Only the Spurs Popovich is better at getting the most out of his squad. As long as health is not an achilles heel, Boston has more than a puncher’s chance of winning this series. The Knicks have 2 of the league’s premier shooters in Melo and Smith, but need Chandler to balance everything out. Sometimes when the shots are not fallin, the Knicks get caught holding the ball to long and standing around. The lack of ball movement in halfcourt sets will be their undoing and exactly what the doctor ordered for the Celtics. The Knicks should win; I won’t be shocked if they don’t.
(3) Indiana vs. (6) Atlanta: Pacers are to inconsistent; one minute they look as though they could beat anybody, and then turn around and look as though couldn’t compete with the recently crowned state champ Mentor Cardinals. Hibbert’s production is critical to the Pacers advancing to the next round. 8 points and 5 rebound type numbers will not get it done. Horford and Smith can tip the scales in favor of the Hawks if Josh stops poutin’ and start playin’ up to his ability. Al will bring it every night; will Smith help him out? Indiana wins 4-3 by default.
(4) Brooklyn vs. (5) Chicago: Lopez, Johnson, and Williams make up a nice core for the Nets, but Carlesimo and inexperience may count against them in the end. The Bulls are battle tested like no other. Chicago needs to only put points on the board; everything else will take care of itself. Rose’s return (off the bench) would be a huge bonus. Bulls win this series 4-2 on grit alone.
At 37 wins and 43 losses, the Milwaukee Bucks having the 8th seed in this year’s playoffs is more formality than deservingly. NBA rules say that there must be 8 teams’ in both conferences to make the season ending tournament. Because the Sixers, Cavs, Pistons, Raptors, Wizards, Magic, and Bobcats are all so bad, the Bucks get a free pass. How does a team with a losing record make the playoffs at all? Even from a statistical standpoint I can’t figure out how to make a case for the Bucks that would give them any chance against the Heat in a first round matchup. This team is 20th in points allowed (100.4/per) and 12th in points for (98.8/per); what chance do the Bucks have realistically against any team if they can’t score enough, and can’t stop the other team from scoring too many? Not to mention a league rank 10th in the turnover dept. The Heat should be allowed a first round by instead of having to play the Bucks; the Bucks are not worthy of being called a basketball team let alone a playoff team.
The Bucks do have 5 players’ who average double digits in points per; Monta Ellis (19.2), Brandon Jennings (17.6), Ersan Ilyasova (13.2), J.J. Redick (12.0), and Mike Dunleavy (10.4) can all put the ball in the basket, but it all seems to be perimeter oriented. At times Jennings and Ellis will put the ball on the floor and get to the basket, but of the five aforementioned, Jennings, Ilyasova, and Dunleavy shoot better than 36% from the three. Can’t win in the playoffs being to jumpshot heavy; especially when those shots are long three’s. Long jumpshots lead to long misses and fastbreak oppportunities for the opposition. The Heat will feast on any and all runouts going the other way.
Despite the no chance at all proclamation I put forth when the Bucks play the Heat, there is one area for this Buck team that is worthy of mention and is a mandatory criterion for playoff basketball- offensive rebounding. It makes no sense to me how this team is ranked number 2 in both offensive (1033) and defensive (2475) rebounds with 43 losses on the season. Whether you agree with me or not, there is a direct correlation between the two. Teams’ who rebound the ball well -especially offensive- usually have a winning record.
Stern should insitute an NBA rule that disallows a team to make the playoffs if said team has a below .500 overall record. If only for this season, Stern should allow the loser of the 8th spot in the Western conference to take the place of the winner of the 8th spot in the East. I guarantee the Lakers’ or Jazz would make for a better series against the Heat than Milwaukee. Instead of playing to their strength that is rebounding and punishing the Heat on the inside, the Bucks will settle for jumpshots on the outside. Playing harder and not smarter is a recipe for disaster; a disaster that is the Milwaukee Bucks.
The foul on Kevin Durant in Game 2 of last year’s Finals that should’ve been called, coupled with the fact that Durant- supposedly one of the NBA’s biggest stars- stayed in foul trouble for the entire series, I didn’t think there was much more Stern and the league could do to make me feel like the game I grew to know and love was becoming highly suspect. After watching the Heat lose for the second time this season to the Knicks (both by 20 pts) who were without Carmelo this second go round, I’m now convinced more than ever before that last year’s title was in fact given and not earned.
The sports’ world says the Heat are the best because they have the most talented team in the league; I say they’re the best only in namesake. It’s the zone defenses teams play that allow for luxury spacing not afforded to guys like Jordan, Bird, or Magic when they played. Teams’ like the Spurs’, Knicks, Grizzlies, and Clippers have proven just what kind of squad Miami has because they’re not intimidated. For some strange reason, the Heat are suffering from ” Title-itis” and ” turn it on, turn it off.” Only the Lakers’ were successful at turn it on, turn it off; because Phil was masterful at coaching ego’s.
Growing up, sitting down to watch an NBA game between the Milwaukee Bucks with Terry Cummings, Jack Sikma, Paul Pressey, and Sidney Moncrief vs. the 76ers with Andrew Toney, Charles Barkley, Dr.J, and Mo’ Cheeks was the thing to do. Some might say it was mandatory. Now I watch the NBA cause there’s nothing else to do. It has become a league more concerned with instant gratification and how it looks instead of playing for the purpose of reaching the pinnacle. That’s bad news for the fans’, bad news for the NBA, and bad news for David Stern- all because it was given and not earned.