On to the Next One: NBA 2nd Round

First of all, sorry to all of you out there who were waiting with bated breath for my next blog post. I know the demand for more hot, fresh knowledge from yours truly was so high that I heard protests were being planned to force my fingers to the keyboard. (At this point, I don’t think my tongue could be planted even more firmly in cheek).

For real doe, I’ve just been busy with the last few weeks of the semester and now that it’s my summer break, I’ve got much more free time to get some blogs in. Today’s edition (titled after one of my favorite Jay-Z songs) is about the Conference Semifinals in the NATIONAL. BASKETBALL. ASSOCIATION.

One round is out of the way with some surprises, some expected results, and a lot of blowouts. A lot. Out of 45 first-round games, 25 were won by at least 10 points. Series like Indiana-Atlanta (which was honestly a snooze fest) had blowouts in all but one game. A series that got nauseous amounts of hype (Boston-New York) was seriously (no pun intended) a showcase of mediocre shooting and chucking from Carmelo Anthony (we’ll talk more about him later).  The Lakers, who made up a big chunk of ESPN’s debate programming this year, were got beat by an average of 18.75 points per game by San Antonio. Having described all the doom and gloom, there were some pretty cool moments of the first round.

Like this….

Or this….

Or even this….

That last one though, I seriously don’t even know how the NBA continues with this guy. Just Youtube “Joey Crawford NBA” and you’ll see what I mean.

But now it’s the conference semifinals. We’re finally starting to whittle down the best of the best. Let’s break down each series and I’ll give you a prediction for each one. (Yes I know, this ones going in after 2 Game 1’s have been played but those first games didn’t change my opinion of who was going to win those series. I promise.)

Let’s start in the East with Miami (1) against Chicago (5). Miami is well-rested and is the overwhelming favorite to win the whole thing. The newly crowned MVP LeBron James is motivated to repeat and to eliminate a hated rival along the way. Chicago, with their roster of spinal-tapped, plantar fasciited, hamstrung bllers had to scratch and claw through a 7-game series with Brooklyn that sapped much of their energy. Even with the rumor mills a-churnin’ that Derrick Rose may make a return for the Windy Warriors, common sense tells you that Miami should blow past these guys. But I’m not sold. Noah has been “putting da team on his back doe” and has emerged as a defensive superstar (even though I still don’t like him as a person) and Tom Thibodeau has this team as cohesive as I’ve ever seen. Chicago won’t win this series but I can’t see them getting swept. So I say, Heat in 6.

Next, Knicks (2) vs. Pacers (3). The Nap took Game 1 in a game that wasn’t as close as the 7-point margin would indicate. The way the Knicks play (shoot threes first, shoot more threes, shoot even more threes while watching Melo run isolation plays on half their possessions) plays right into the best defensive team in the East’s game plan. As someone that loves good basketball, the Knicks are the poster child of what the NBA shouldn’t be. Carmelo, who in my opinion is one of the most overrated players in the league even as an elite scorer, is bringing this team down. Unless he somehow flicks a switch and involves his shooters and teammates in a positive way and the Knicks shake this nasty shooting slump, Indy’s going to win this series going away. Personally, I don’t think Frank Vogel’s team is going to let that slump end. I’ll take Pacers in 5.

In the West, we start with Oklahoma City (1) vs Memphis (5). This was honestly the most tough series to predict for me. With OKC taking Game 1 at home, you’d think I’d choose the Fighting Durantulas because they already have a win under their belt. If the Thunder had the services of Russell Westbrook, I wouldn’t be even debating this. But with Durant needing to bail this team out after trailing by 12 in the third quarter and the way Memphis knows their identity, I can’t help but think the Griz can pull the upset. Memphis has bucked the perimeter-centric trend that most NBA teams have bought into and have placed their hopes on the burly shoulders of Zachary “Z-Bo” Randolph and Marc “Yeah I’m the better” Gasol inside. Not saying Memphis has a bunch of perimeter scrubs (Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Jerryd Bayless, Quincy Pondexter), but the post will set them free. After seeing LeBron James not have enough weapons around him to bring a title to my Cavaliers, I just can’t think that Durant can do this all by himself. Series? Grizzlies in 6.

Finally, we’ve got the Spurs (2) against the Warriors (6). With Westbrook being gone for OKC, I think the ultra-consistent Spurs might just be the favorites out West. Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker are primed for one more title go-round and their integration of youth into their core with Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Cory Joseph, Gary Neal, and Tiago Splitter make this a team to be reckoned with. They’re not flashy, they’re not plodding, they’re just freaking efficient. They know what to do in almost every situation and with one of the best coaches in the game in Gregg Popovich, I’m not sure how to pick against them. I love what Golden State did in the first round to oust Denver and Steph Curry could potentially become a superstar in this league. But the way they almost gave Game 6 away to the Nuggets and all the mistakes this youthful team makes on a regular basis makes me think they’re just a year or two away from being title contenders. So I say, Spurs in 6.

Well there it is. My NBA preview in all its glory. Comment down below. Do it. I thrive on debate