…On the NBA playoffs: My pick is the Lakers over the Heat. I am more hesitant to pick the Heat, as I see its road through the East being very tough: Wade and CO. will beat Philly comfortably, but then awaits the winner of Boston/NYK – one team that was in the Eastern Conference Finals last year and one that can match the Heat’s “Big Three” – Wade, Bron, Bosh – with their own: Stoudemire, Melo,’ and Chauncey Billups. New York also finished the season on a 7-2 run and is seventh in the NBA in offensive rating — meaning they score 110.9 points per 100 possession.
Boston, meanwhile, finished the season 6-7 and have only FIVE players back from last years roster: Kendrick Perkins – a trusted and respected Celtic teammate – is now Jeff Green; Rasheed Wallace is now Nenad Kristic; Eddie House is newly-acquired-Heat-reject Carlos Arroyo; Tony Allen is now Von Wafer. Shaq will be a limited factor, if a factor at all, due to injuries and just pure elderly status; the same could be said about Jermaine O’Neal. As hard as it is for me to pick against Kevin Garnett (The Big Ticket), Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Rondo and Doc Rivers (and even Lawrence Frank who I think should be the next Timberwolves coach), I just think they are a year older and a bit disoriented.
The Lakers on the other hand…they are the Lakers. They might lose by 20 at home to Charlotte one night but the next night blow out San Antonio at the Alamodome. Kobe, Pau, Odom, Bynum, Fisher, Artest, and a better bench, the Lakers are just really good: the stats prove it. Mercurial as they are, the Lakers tend to coast, at times seemingly meditating on the court. This leads to playing down to opponents levels knowing they can turn it on when they have to; and, considering they are back-to-back champs, one might be inclined to believe in them. Or hate them, whatever, but at least respect them.
They also have Kobe Bean Bryant, a five-time champ whose accomplishments are approaching another unwavering two-guard’s.
I also think the Blazers have a good shot at beating the Mavericks – the addition of Gerald Wallace paramount. I picked the Kincks to beat the Celtics, and then expect a classic series between the Heat and NYK. Bron/Carmelo. Stoudemire/Bosh.Wade/Chauncey. Epic. The Heat have had a whole year to build cohesion however, whereas the Knicks are so far somewhat makeshift, so the advantage IMO goes to the Heat.