With so many storylines heading into the basketball playoffs, which one is the best? Do we talk about a power-house Pistons team that could run through the playoffs? Or how about the emergence of the Clippers as everyone’s favorite underdog? Or do the Mavericks have what it takes to finally topple the Spurs and reach the finals?
You know what, let’s just focus on who will come out of the first round. The top four in the East are nearly untouchable. Detroit, Miami, New Jersey and Cleveland all should advance.
In the West, San Antonio will easily handle Sacramento, Phoenix will take care of the Lakers, the Clips will handle the Nuggets and Dallas will run over Memphis.
But in the West, nothing is a sure thing. First off, the Lakers seem to be coming together at the right time and Kobe is a sure-fire MVP candidate. Sacramento could go the seven game distance with the Spurs only because of the Spurs injuries. Oh, and Ron “Sure, I’ll charge the stands of the toughest city in the country” Artest is playing for the Kings.
The biggest problem with the NBA playoffs are the seedings. In the second round, should Dallas and San Antonio advance, they will meet each other, despite the fact that they are the two best teams in the West. They will not meet in the conference finals, which would surely be an ESPN classic someday. The NBA should take a long hard look at their three divisions and condense them back to two.
For the East Finals, I like the Pistons beating out the Heat to reach the NBA Finals for a third straight year. Last year, the Heat were a breath away from making it to the Finals, but Wade’s injury and the Pistons’ teamwork got the job done. This year, Alonzo Mourning is banged up with a calf injury.
No Zo, no Finals for the Heat.
For the West Finals, San Antonio will beat Phoenix in maybe five games. The Spurs have been battered all year, but seemingly turn on the engines come playoff time. I am still not 100 percent convinced of Ginobili’s greatness, but he seems to make the baskets at the right time.
And all that means a Finals rematch between the two best teams in the NBA, the Pistons and the Spurs. Last year, the Spurs had the home court advantage and that cost a Pistons team that should have won their second straight title. This year is different. The Pistons have the home court, a chip on their shoulder and almost a cold/calculating look on their faces. They want to win. They will accept nothing less. And that is why I’m picking them in six games.