The NBA’s First Round was……. Fantastic? 2nd round predictions sure to go WRONG!!

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In my first round preview blog, I was fantastically wrong about most of my playoff predictions, and guess what? I am perfectly OKAY with this (I am, trust me). Let’s get this out the way first. The more I watch the ESPN and their games, the more I can’t really stand their coverage of the playoffs. Why?

First, it’s that damn Will.I.Am. song will forever bother me. First off, I’m not hyped to watch a 2 minute intro of Will.I.Am dancing with various NBA players. When I see that, you know what I think? I think ESPN is attempting to cater it’s audience to a 15 year old teen girl who just wants to dance, and party. This is the NBA playoffs. Not the club.

Second, I’m tired of Magic Johnson on that NBA Countdown show. I like Jalen Rose, Bill Simmons (most people on Twitter, Facebook, or whatever hate Bill Simmons because he’s an openly Boston homer who happens to write about sports, and have his own site, Grantland. I think most people just envy him because of his success, but who knows), and Michael Wilbon. Magic, I just, I don’t know. When I hear Magic Johnson speak, I feel like I’m getting stupider and stupider. At least with Charles Barkley on TNT, it’s funny. Magic? It’s like, dude. Shut the entire hell up. It has nothing to do with Magic the player. I love Magic Johnson, and how he changed the point guard position for everyone. But when he talks, I want to cut my ears off.

ESPN. You have to do better for next year. No more teen boppy club songs please, and make Magic retire from TV. I’m begging you.

The first round of the playoffs was actually entertaining. I mean, let’s be honest here. I lied to every single one of you about most of these series because I didn’t know what the hell was gonna happen in the playoffs this year. I figured Stephen Curry would light it up, but not like that (AND HE’S MY FAVORITE PLAYER!!!). George Karl has to be sick right now because he failed to make the right adjustments from game 2-4 on Curry, and Golden State’s small lineup. Instead of playing to their strengths, Karl did what most people in Seattle know all about: He didn’t adjust until it was too late.

I sure didn’t think the Lakers would get swept, but that’s another blog for another day (Since I’m a Laker fan, I’ll address them when the time is right: June). I lied to you all when I said I wasn’t going to watch a single second of the Pacers/Hawks series, but I watched part of game 3, and the last bit of game 6. Just, ew at that series all around (It was fitting how Josh Smith’s last shot was a blocked three pointer. Made me laugh when I shouldn’t have). I also lied to you all about Memphis winning the series in 7. They won in 6. Chicago was up 3-1 on Brooklyn due to Nate Robinson (“African-American Nate” is what my friend Jared calls him. But he doesn’t say African American) going absurd in a 4th quarter, and in the only game 7 of the first round, the Bulls found a way to prevail.

But guess what? The 2nd round of the NBA Playoffs is upon us. Better basketball is ahead of us (I would hope). Let’s dive into this (No, not Swimming Pools), and how more wrong I can get.

Eastern Conference:

1) Miami Heat vs 5) Chicago Bulls

Miami is the best team in the league, with the best player in the league, and they’ve had a week to rest up, while Chicago being banged up goes to South Beach for games 1 and 2. There’s not much to say about Miami, to be honest. Lebron is the MVP, and even though Dwyane Union Wade is limping around with a banged up knee (A postseason where D-Wade is hurt. Water is wet), the Heat have the deepest bench, especially with all-energy guy Chris “Birdman Birdman” Andersen coming off of it. Miami gets production from everyone because all of them know their roles. They spread the floor out, and outside of San Antonio, their offense is beautiful to watch.

In most years, Chicago wouldn’t be a 5 seed, but without their best player, and their franchise player (It’s coming guys, the Derrick Rose rant is coming), the Bulls have found a way to the 2nd round with tough defense, and gritty offense production from Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Nate Robinson, and Merco Belinelli. A lot of people on various social networks want Derrick Rose to come back and return from his ACL injury that he suffered a year ago, but I’m one of the few who says that Rose should sit this postseason out, and just relax. I can give you 5 reasons why Derrick Rose shouldn’t return for the Bulls and I can still bet that people will still argue and say he should. Ready? Here we go.

  1. He’s mentally not ready to return to the basketball court. Rose clearly said that he’s not over the mental aspect of the game, and I’m cool with that for one. Don’t we all want guys to come back at full strength? When they are confident in their abilities? Yes? 
  2. He didn’t play in a regular season game this year. Why rush your franchise player, a guy who won MVP two years back because you think you can beat Miami? Which leads me to……
  3. I can bet the front office doesn’t want Rose to risk injury again. If we didn’t see Rose back in February when he was “cleared” (I put that in quotes because just because team doctors don’t know his body. If he feels like he’s not ready, fine) you have to figure we probably won’t see him in uniform until next season, which is probably what the front office wants to see.
  4. People make me laugh when they say that he’s been practicing, and how he’s able to dunk and all that stuff. Do people realize that in during the playoffs, practices aren’t hard. If anything, it’s a shootaround. Then people throw around how they see Joakim Noah playing with the bad foot, and how he shouldn’t respect Rose for not playing. I’m gonna say this lightly: Joakim Noah has played for 3 months with that injury. You’re asking Rose to play a good 10-20 minutes a game in the playoffs, where the game is much slower, and a grind? Plus, against the defending world champions? Come on.
  5. Finally, Rose would ruin team chemistry, and the offensive flow. I know that seems wrong, but the Bulls got this far without him. Nate Robinson, for as much YOLO as he pulls on the basketball court has played well for them. I know Thibs is a genius, and he’s probably a top 3 coach in the league for getting this team to the 2nd round, but even then, Rose would mess up the Bulls this season.

Prediction:

Listen. Miami has been resting for a week. Chicago just came off an interesting 7 game series with the Tin Men Brooklyn Nets (If you get this reference, I’ll give you $100 dollars. Wait, I’m broke. You’d have to give me $200 instead), and I can bet that game 1 will be a close game simply because of Miami’s “rust.” But then, we’re talking about Lebron James, the league MVP. Will Shaun Howard bet against his team? Nope, not yet. Miami in 5. I think Chicago will win game 3 in Chicago, leading to fake outrage by EVERYONE because the Heat will lose with a James turnover late in the game, and then the whole “he’s not clutch” thing that was hilarious in 2011 after the finals (Which I got right btw, but I don’t know basketball), but after a 33 pts/7 rebs/11 assists game in Chicago, America finally shuts up when they see Lebron go Bane mode on Jimmy Butler. It’s gonna be a quiet summer in Chicago (Until they trade for Kevin Love. I just made that up. No, I really did. Actually, I didn’t. Whatever.).

2) New York Knicks vs 3) Indiana Pacers

I think this theme song is fitting for the New York Knicks and their fanbase.

Can you imagine the announcer for the Price is Right saying this to Knick fans?

COME ON DOWN, NEW YORK KNICKS! YOU’RE IN THE 2ND ROUND FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 13 YEARS!!

And that’s what we have. Congratulations Knick fans! You’re finally out the first round. Took you a decade and some change. The last time the Knicks  were in the 2nd round, I was 7 years old at Olympic View Elementary School in Oak Harbor, Washington ballin up older kids with the #YoungYoloJumpers.

In true Knicks fashion, the Knicks had to make it harder for themselves. Credit Boston for fighting in games 4-6, but the Knicks were clearly the better team. When things get tight in the last 3 minutes of games, you know what the Knicks do? #IsoMelo to death. (Crazy thing, didn’t we give Joe Johnson the name “Iso Joe” when Mike Woodson was coaching in Atlanta?) The Knicks have lapses on defense to where they get a little bit too comfortable, but at the same time, when you’re up 19 in a game 6 at Boston, go for the kill shot. Don’t let that old team comeback and put a scare into you and your fanbase.

The Pacers to me are Memphis east. They want to grind games out, play defense, and they somehow make timely shots. While Paul George isn’t a superstar, and the fact that their “star” Danny Granger (I don’t like Danny Granger and his game for some reason. Something about it to me), he’s close to that level. At least to me. The Pacers and Hawks series was interesting to me. Games 1-5 were blowouts. The Pacers blew out the Hawks at home, and while the Hawks blew out the Pacers at their place from games 3-4, I still got the sense that Indiana was gonna win the series in 6. The Pacers also had a big lead and let the Hawks come back, and they should have also gone for the kill shot.

Prediction:

I love the Knicks. I do. My girlfriend is a Knick fan, and I have a soft spot for them (You see that plug? Only I could get that plug into one of my blogs). I just don’t know if the Knicks can continue to make tough contested jumpshots against one of the better defensive teams in the league. I know Carmelo is a proven All-Star, and that Earl Smith the III (He’s not JR Smith to me) makes those tough shots. Ray Felton has come on as of late, but after that last series, I just don’t know.

The Knicks love to play small, and that means matching up Carmelo at the 4 to create a mismatch. The real question is, will the Knicks make the three ball? Indiana is one of the best teams in the league in defending the three point line, and if the Knicks aren’t hitting shots from deep with their small ball lineup, well…….. good luck. David West is too slow to guard Carmelo on the wing, but he’s able to get on the block against him because he’s stronger.

I said it last night on Twitter, and I’m not going away from it. I’m taking the Pacers in 6 because of the way they defend. I don’t know if Carmelo can make those types of shots, and the Knicks are getting Amar’e back (WEEEELPPPPPPPP), which might ruin the flow of the team. Obviously, if the Knicks make the three ball, they’ll win the series. But as the games get closer, and slower down the stretch, the Knicks are gonna stop running their offense and go to #IsoMelo instead of running their offense while Indiana will probably go on the block to get points. Pacers. 6. Book it.

Western Conference:

1)Oklahoma City Thunder vs 5) Memphis Grizzlies

Ahhhh!! The contrast of styles! The rematch of the 2011 conference semifinals, and it’s even more intriguing now because Russell Westbrook is out. Kevin Durant pretty much guided the Thunder to this point without his sidekick, but they played Houston, who outside of James Harden, Chandler Parsons, and Omar Asik, are kinda just so-so. With Westbrook out, it’s tough for OKC to get easy buckets, and the funny thing is, a lot of people out there claimed that having Westbrook out would be a good thing for the Thunder. Even though I don’t know basketball, I had to laugh at that. Reggie Jackson is good, and will be a good player in the NBA, but he’s not an All-Star. However, he’s filling the role nicely. Scott Brooks finally figured out that Kendrick Perkins is worthless. It took him 2 years to finally figure out that Perkins is worthless on the floor. What does Kendrick do good? Oh I know.

LOL

Mean mug. Set illegal screens like Kevin Garnett. Elbow. That’s all he does.

The Grizzlies also came off a 6 game series against one of the league’s most overrated teams (You see what I did there?) in pretty interesting fashion. After game 2, in which Memphis lost off of a Chris Paul game-winner, I said to my grandparents that this series was over, and that Memphis was gonna win it. Why? Deacon Lionel Hollins made adjustments knowing that Vinny Del Negro wasn’t gonna make any. Zach Randolph and Defensive Player of the Year winner Marc Gasol are what I call “old-school” players. They aren’t the most athletic guys in the world, but they have basketball skill, and are tough. Plus, Randolph isn’t afraid to mix it up.

Prediction:

Kevin Durant is the 2nd best player on this earth. Let me repeat. Kevin Durant is the 2nd best player on this earth. Kevin Durant is also about to face two of the better perimeter defenders in the NBA with Tayshaun Prince, and Tony Allen. The only thing I don’t like about Kevin Durant, and Shaq even pointed this out (When I co-sign with Shaq, you know the world is ending) which makes it seem like he does this often is that, KD takes himself out of plays late in games which makes him easy to defend. We saw it last year in the finals, but he had Westbrook to bail him out. When he did it in game 5 of their first round matchup, you know how that possession ended? In a Thabo Sefolosha turnover with the shot clock running out. Yes. I know. Durant is great, but he can’t make himself guardable in this series if they want to advance.  I’m not sure if Oklahoma City can go small ball here against Memphis because of Z-Bo and Gasol. Randolph is finally looking like 2011 Randolph and well, earlier this season, he did tell Kendrick Perkins this:

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHOVd7Ix0P8]

Zach Randolph might be our version of Charles Oakley. Might be. Do you really want to mess with Z-Bo, Kendrick Perkins? He already choked out Blake Griffin, and I know you don’t want to be on that Summer Jam screen, bro. The matchup that will keep me interested in this series is Mike Conley Jr. vs Reggie Jackson/Derek Fisher. Conley Jr. has been playing well as of late. Jackson and Fisher have to score, and at least match Westbrook’s production. I really thought we were heading to see a rematch of Oklahoma City and Miami, but Oklahoma City is a different team without Westbrook’s swagger, and his toughness. I’ll bet against the 2nd best player on earth, and take the better team here in Memphis. Memphis in 6 because Deacon Hollins is a better coach than Scott Brooks (Then again, ANYONE IS), Gasol/Randolph/Davis/Arthur are better than Perkins/Ibaka/Collison, and Jerryd Bayless to me, is better than Kevin Martin, who picks and chooses when to play.

2) San Antonio Spurs vs 6) Golden State Warriors

And finally, the series that I’m truly interested to see. San Antonio vs Golden State. The Spurs had a scrimmage against my Los Angeles Lakers, and not one of those games were close. In fact, Popovich had his players TOY with my boys, who’s starting backcourt was the D-League MVP, Darius Morris, the kid who left Michigan since Trey Burke was coming to take his spot (No lie, no lie, no lieeeeeeeeeeeee), and Chris Duhon. Chris Duhon. Tony Parker had himself a field day, but that’s because he’s an All-Star. Manu Ginobili looks like he’s healthy. Tim Duncan thinks this is 2007 again, and if they are getting quality production from Kwahi Leonard, and Danny Green, then this team is dangerous.

Golden State is the last team from California left in these playoffs. To be honest, I’m not too surprised that they are still in it. Even though they lost David Lee (Who somehow came back and played a couple of minutes in game 6. Mark Jackson used that preaching prayer holy oil on that white man), the Dubs went small ball with Harrison Barnes at the 4. Plus, they are here because of the shooting from their backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, but more so Curry. Curry is giving George Karl (and Knick fans who almost had him in the 09 draft) nightmares with the shooting display. I’m not too shocked that Curry is doing this because he can ball, but what he did to Denver was incredible. Off the bounce. Screens. Or just running free since Corey Brewer and Wilson Chandler would help off of a Jarrett Jack drive. I’ve never seen a guy shoot like that in a playoff series. The great thing about the Warriors is that they are getting excellent production from Andrew Bogut. Bogut had a 14 point, 21 rebound performance in game 6. Will it continue, though?

Prediction:

The Spurs are a better team, and they’ll win this series. I think everyone will agree with me about this. However, I want to see how Popovich tells his team to defend Curry. Does he put the long armed defender in Kawhi Leonard on Curry, or does he trust Tony Parker to guard him? With no Lee, I expect Pastor Mark Jackson to stay with his small ball lineup and have Barnes start at the 4, but that means he’s matched up with Splitter (whenever he returns from ankle injury) on the defensive end. The Warriors have a lot of options on the offensive end. Jackson said that Thompson and Curry are the best shooting backcourt in the history of the game, and honestly, he might be right. Carl Landry brings toughness from the bench. #Draymond Green is playing well which doesn’t surprise me because he’s a glue guy, but they are playing against the Spurs.

Golden State tried awfully hard to lose game 6 against Denver with the stupid turnovers, and the uncharacteristic play from a playoff team. Against the Spurs, you have to be better than that, and I don’t think they are ready yet. But then again, I said that last round. Curry is gonna have a game where he shoots lights out, but can he do it for 3 straight games against a really really good defensive team? That’ll be the question. I think Golden State’s run ends this round, but they’ll be back easily. Spurs in 5. I love Steph. He’s my dude, but, your time will come young blood.

So that’s it. These are my predictions. I can’t wait to be wrong so I can laugh at myself, and for others to laugh at me. Any comments? Leave them. I’ll respond.

– Shaun

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