Bucks Diary's NBA First Round Predictions
The NBA Playoffs have arrived! Cue Wagner's "O Fortuna". Its time to get it on for real.
Just in time, I have completed my first round prognostications. This year, for some reason, it was a tricky proposition. Btw, if you're planning on relying on this for anything other than entertainment purposes, be forewarned. I finished 23rd out of 26 in the March Madness pool I entered.
In my defense, though, I hate college basketball. Hate it. Save for watching the Badgers, or seeing interesting Bucks prospects, I never watch it. I live by the old school CBS jingle ("You'll see the best in basketball, when you watch the NBA, when you watch the NBA on CBS...").
Anyway, here's what I got:
(Pick: Bulls in 5)
I'm having a hard time figuring out why people think the Bulls are the underdog. The Bulls have a better team this year than the one that pushed Miami hard last year, and Miami's team is clearly weaker. On top of that, the Bulls were much better than the Heat in the regular season, both overall and head-to-head, and now D Wade isn't even close to full strength. And even when he is at full strength, no man on the planet messes with his game better than Bulls G Kirk Hinrich (dating back to Marquette's painful loss to Kansas in the Final Four). Thus I would be stunned if the Bulls didn't have an easy time with the Heat.
(Pick: Nets in 7)
In my opinion, this will be the most competitive series of the first round. Almost a pick 'em, but I'll take the Nets in 7, only because they are the more experienced team. But you could almost flip a coin. The overall numbers slightly favor the Raptors, and the head-to-head numbers slightly favor the Nets. The stakes are high -- the winner would probably be my favorite to advance past the Cavs.
(Pick: Pistons in 4)
The Pistons should not lose a game to the Magic. The overall numbers skew heavily in favor of Detroit, and the head-to-head numbers aren't even close either. The Pistons should walk right through Orlando. If they lose anymore than one game they should be ashamed of themselves.
(Pick: Cavaliers in 4)
I hate picking sweeps, because even clearly superior teams usually let down in the third game. But once again, I see no reason Cleveland should lose even one game to the depleted Bullets. Its sad, really, because I think the Bullets could have taken the Cavaliers this year had they been at full strength. At least it would have been quite interesting and entertaining to watch Agent Zero go shot for shot with LeBron.
(Pick: Jazz in 6)
I don't know about this pick. It runs contrary to logic. The Jazz are imploding, and the Rockets have the superior overall numbers, a stifling defense, and a soaring Tracy McGrady. All the same, I'm going with the Jazz in 6. First off, I have no faith in the mental or physical toughness of Yao Ming. Yao had the best overall numbers in the NBA when healthy, but the image I have in my head is him wimping down from contact, even against the 5'7'' Nate Robinson. I think he will shrink under playoff pressure. And McGrady, well... he hasn't done squat in the postseason. Beyond that, the head-to-head numbers favor Utah, so they're my pick.
(Pick: Spurs in 7)
This is going to be a killer series. And not just because of the old school "Remember the ABA" appeal. I came in thinking Spurs all the way, but after looking more closely at Denver's numbers, especially head-to-head, I think this series could be quite competitive. The head-to-head numbers are nearly dead even. The only thing that scares me is George Karl. He has the reputation, whether its fair or not, of being a poor postseason coach. And Popovich is about as good as it gets. That said, I think Camby will give Duncan problems, and I think Melo will give the Spurs defense fits. But San Antonio will have just enough to prevail.
(Pick: Suns in 5)
This one should, by rights, be a lopsided series. The Suns are highpowered and highly focused, while the Lakers are banged-up and basically a one-trick pony. But the Lakers have shown the ability to slightly slow the Suns machine in their head-to-head matchups, so I think they will be periodically competitive throughout the series, and I think they will be able to take one game from Phoenix.
(Pick: Mavs in 7)
This is easily the weirdest series I have ever encountered. If you look at the overall numbers, you would have to conclude it will be the Mavs in a walk. But then when you look at the head-to-head numbers, the Warriors dominated (even given the fact that the Mavs layed down for their third matchup). Plus, after last year's Finals, I question the Mavericks heart and intestinal fortitude. To paraphrase Bode from HBO's The Wire "They rattle". Plus, no one can scheme a playoff series like Nellie... no one! (Didn't he basically invent the Point Forward position specifically to exploit a Celtics weakness in one of the 80s Bucks-Celtics postseason matchups?). But even with all of that, I can't pick the Warriors. In basketball, upsets of this magntitude just don't occur... especially in seven game series. They just don't. And so, no matter what the head-to-head numbers say, the Mavericks have proven themselves the vastly superior team over the long 82 game haul, so they will prevail. But they will get a scare.