The playoffs start tomorrow and our Celtics are going to chase that next banner but the field is going to stand in the way of that. I’ve been doing some research and looking at the numbers of the teams in the playoffs. I have plenty of questions and theories about the action that we’ll see over the next few weeks and I’d like to share them with you all.
- How many games will the Miami Heat lose?
The regular season is long and sometimes teams lull through games and even stretches of games. That’s why streaks are so important in the NBA–they show where your team’s mind is at. The Miami Heat are the defending champions in the NBA. They almost certainly needed something to get up for every game, right? Then it hit me–the Miami Heat actually had a 27 game winning streak. They were playing from behind in a lot of those games, so how hard was it for them to actually play their best basketball for four quarters? Well, whatever the case that won’t be the story in the postseason. I don’t see anyone taking this team down the way they are constructed and with the way that their trio of stars have been playing lately.
- How good can the Brooklyn Nets be?
Before the season started I predicted the Brooklyn Nets would be a top four seed. I was correct in my prediction, but I wasn’t correct in the way that it would happen. I didn’t think that Brook Lopez would be the Nets best player for most of the year. I thought Deron Williams would carry most of the load–that didn’t happen until the close of the regular season. I thought this team was pieced perfectly around Williams for him to be productive, and it is. They’re a team that isn’t going to play very fast and they focus on cross-screening and post opportunity in the half court. Williams is the perfect inside-out point guard. He’s always been brilliant shooting the three ball. Now that he’s finishing on the inside again, the Brooklyn Nets should be looked at as a legitimate threat to the Miami Heat.
- How healthy are the San Antonio Spurs?
The Spurs didn’t close the season the way they wanted to. They lost seven of their last 10 games and lost their last three straight games. They lost Boris Diaw for three to four weeks and Manu Ginobili still isn’t 100 percent healthy. Tony Parker should get his legs back under him, but should we worry about his ankle going forward? The Spurs are a very good team and they have the tools to win it all, but if they can’t stay healthy they won’t make it past the first round.
- Who’s the better big in Los Angeles? Gasol or Howard?
The truth is that it probably doesn’t matter. Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard have been destroying teams on a united front for the past 10-15 games. The Lakers finished the season off strong and got into the playoffs off of the strength of their size. That’s how things should’ve been run throughout the year. Mike D’Antoni continued to make adjustments throughout the season, but when Gasol returned things just catapulted into the green for them. He’s averaging over 10 rebounds and six assists per game over the last 10. He finished the season with an emphatic triple double and Dwight Howard showed us his defensive prowess once again. If Howard and Gasol can both play like the top 20 players that they are, they have a good shot at beating anyone. Of course, that doesn’t mean that it will actually happen.
- How far will the Los Angeles Clippers go?
The Los Angeles Clippers are such an enigmatic team. They win 16 straight games in December and then play near .500 level basketball for the rest of the season. It seems that they’ve rested on their laurels–especially on the defensive end. Before the turn of the year, the Clippers yielded a top three defense in the league. Since then their defense has dropped to 8th in the league yielding 103.6 points per 100 possessions. That isn’t a bad total by any stretch, but if they can get their defense back into top three shape they’ll be a legitimate title contender. If they can’t then they may not make it out of the first round past the Memphis Grizzlies.