Go West, young man, and grow up with the country. It’s time for our Western Conference picks!
(1) LOS ANGELES LAKERS VS. (8) UTAH JAZZ
"Ronnie, I said tweak it and blow on it, not palm it!"
BROKEASS: Utah didn’t pick the best time to start playing their worst basketball of the season, but they should be better and I think they will be better. The Lakers clearly are better. In virtually every way. That being said, I think the Jazz are being prematurely written-off. Deron Williams is going to annihilate Derek Fisher and Utah is historically brutal for visiting teams. But those factors will only serve to delay the inevitable. Lakers in 6.
DUBBS: Utah has a lot of talent. And a good coach. And the most awful fans in the League. But they’ve been sucking it lately. And the Lakers are too good – easily the best in the West. Lakers in 4.
BROKEASS: Utah has some chemistry issues, but the playoffs can often resolve that. Ask Rasheed Wallace. Besides, Boozer, Memo, and Millsap need to have strong showings if they hope to earn big free agent paychecks. The Lakers are cocky right now, as the result of too many people declaring them de facto Champions of the West. I think they’re going to be tested.
DUBBS: The Lakers are too deep, too versatile, too good and too Kobe. The Lakers may be tested, but it won’t be by this mötley crüe. A team is not going to have an epiphany and suddenly find themselves while playing a juggernaut like the Lakers. They are going to suddenly find themselves getting crushed. And, as Cleveland found out, if you have to rely on Carlos Boozer, you’re in trouble.
BROKEASS: How dare you? Carlos Boozer is the type of guy you trust with your kids.
(2) DENVER NUGGETS VS. (7) NEW ORLEANS HORNETS
"James, I can feel the baby kicking!"
DUBBS: Denver can be an up-and-down team. But Chauncey will give them the stability they need in the playoffs. Chris Paul will certainly pose a lot of problems for him but he won’t abuse Le Chaunce the way he did J-Kidd in their matchup last playoffs. And Billups is too big for Paul on the offensive end. He should be able to get what he needs. Mostly, the Hornets are just way too thin. Denver in 5.
BROKEASS: Sure, Mr. Big Shot is nice, but what about Big Game James Posey? I think this series goes to 7 because, while neither team floors me, I like the clutchness of both. CP3 will be singularly good enough to stretch it, but not win it. Carmelo at the buzzer, Denver in 7.
DUBBS: Wow, you’re calling it down to the buzzer!? Neck tattoo to Neck tattoo. I like it. I don’t see it, but I like it. Also, Big Game James has to be the least-maintained nickname since Mr. Big Shot. Carmelo Anthony will roll right over him.
BROKEASS: Fine, forget about the dagger-thrower James Posey. Get ready for the epic resurgence of Tyson Chandler!
DUBBS: They sent Chandler to the OKC Thunder and the Thunder sent him back! They have like three guys on that team. Nothing but roster spots. And they returned his ass! One last reason Denver will win: The Birdman is gonna fly!
(3) SAN ANTONIO SPURS VS. (6) DALLAS MAVERICKS
Who will survive the standing-8 count?
BROKEASS: This is one of those series where home-court doesn’t matter. And not just because the teams play down the road from each other. No two teams understand each other better than the Spurs and Mavs and I expect every game to be tightly contested. This battle won’t be as epic as previous ones, but it stands to be one of the better match-ups in a pretty weak crop of first-round pairings. In the end, I am picking San Antonio, because they just don’t know how to lose this early. Plus, my knees creak when I think about what Tony Parker is going to do to J-Kidd. Spurs in 7.
DUBBS: The Mavs are playing well. Dirk is Dirk. Jason Terry is instant offense off the bench. Yes, TP will undoubtedly torch Jason Kidd. But Carlisle has done a good job with Kidd this season. He’s hidden him well enough on D and worked him less on O, so he’s actually shooting the best he has in forever. And Jason Kidd is a lot of things but choke artist isn’t one of them. Ginobli is out. The Spurs ain’t winning without their Big Three. The Mavs have too much firepower. Mavs in 7.
BROKEASS: Dirk is Dirk, yes, for better and worse. Meanwhile, Timmy D is always Timmy D and that equals money in the bank. Rick Carlisle may be able to hide Kidd’s weaknesses, but not his own. Pop will straight-up father him. If these games stay close, and you know they will, are you betting the farm (ranch?) on the provens or the dis-provens? If Dallas was a youthful, athletic team I might pick them against the step-slower Spurs. But Dallas equals San Antonio in decrepitude. They expended too much fuel fighting for that 6 spot, and a half-tank of gas won’t get them out of San Antonio.
DUBBS: First of all, Dallas has beaten San Antonio before. Second, Timmy D ain’t always Timmy D. He’s aging. And without Manu there to extend and break down the defense, Dallas can key in on Duncan a lot more. Are Parker and Duncan gonna run pick-and-rolls every single play? The Spurs have two guys. That’s it. Are you really going to take Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Gregg Popovich’s pre-season beard against Dirk, Jason Terry, Jason Kidd, Josh Howard and a serviceable bench? And while I would never argue that Rick Carlisle is as good a coach as Popovich, he’s certainly a better coach than Avery Johnson. Everyone keeps saying you’ve gotta pick the Spurs until they lose. Well the Spurs have lost. Their supporting cast, like Manu’s hair, gets thinner every year. (The NBA: Where Zing! Happens.) Until they inject some young blood into that squad to support their Big Three, it’s over.
BROKEASS: You have no idea what Matt Bonner is capable of.
(4) PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS VS. (5) HOUSTON ROCKETS
Big Tree Fall Hard.
DUBBS: I really like Portland. They’re a gutsy young squad, with one of my favorite players in the NBA (Brandon Roy), a guy I really want to see succeed (Greg Oden), and a good, tough coach. But… Houston is a really good defensive team. Ron Artest and Shane Battier are gonna eat these young boys’ lunches. The two-headed power forward beast of Luis Scola and Carl Landry will swallow LaMarcus Aldridge up. And while Yao has trouble against smaller, more agile big men like Amare, he’s gonna play really well against Oden and Joel Pryzbilla. Plus, Tracy McGrady’s out – another point in Houston’s favor. I want Portland to win. But I’m picking Houston. In 7.
BROKEASS: Yao will be the best big man on the court, but Portland has plenty of bodies to throw at him. Przybilla and Channing Frye are lacking individually, but combine to provide a nice complement of skills and fouls. I predict Greg Oden makes serious noise in these playoffs. Let’s not forget, everyone questioned him in college until the Tournament. Then no one questioned him. Some guys are just built for this shit. I think Yao might be the McGrady to Oden’s Tayshaun Prince. Brandon Roy will have difficult match-ups, but is another guy who seems built for the playoffs. He was born with a veteran’s swagger. This should be a solid series; each team holds a few advantages. Portland secured home-court advantage by winning one more home game than Houston, and that will be the same difference in this series. I want Portland to win too…And they will. Blazers in 7.
DUBBS: If Greg Oden were “just built for this shit,” he wouldn’t keep breaking down. Oden is like the reverse Benjamin Button. The matchup between him and Yao is the immobile object vs. the unmoving force. Who will shatter into a thousand pieces first? Seriously, those dudes might break each other. They’re gonna finish the series playing wheelchair ball. Also, nice 2003 Tayshaun vs. McGrady reference. Way to broaden our readership.
BROKEASS: I thought 2003 was relevant in this series, since it was the last time Houston had a point guard. Seriously, who is their PG? Aaron Brooks? Kyle Lowry? Steve Blake is going to own those punks…And that line has never been written ever! This Houston group has never made it out of the first round for good reason: They are always a piece or two short. This year is no different. Of course, if Ron-Ron shows up in rare form (either as a player or an asshole), all bets are off. But I can’t wager on a team with so many question marks.
DUBBS: If Aaron Brooks is given a place at the table, he will eat! It only makes sense that Houston would finally get out of the first round without McGrady. It’ll allow his spiral of depression to continue to run its course. And too much is being made of Portland as the only team in the West that can challenge the Lakers. They haven’t even been in the playoffs since they were the Jailblazers. Jumps like that don’t happen in the NBA. It’s more of a steady progression. And Houston is ready to take that next step.
That’s it for the First Round. Check back throughout the playoffs for more tomfoolery.
Read Full Post »