NBA playoffs Weekend 1 Thoughts

Last week in my Playoffs Cheat Sheet article I predicted how the playoffs would unfold.  In the article I predicted, among other things:

"The Bulls should have no trouble with the Pacers"

"I don't see this one lasting that long (about the Lakers crushing the Hornets)"

"There's no chance the Knicks win this series"


"The Hawks just aren't good, and the Magic should dispatch them in five games."

So, now that we've seen three game-one upsets (Grizzlies over Spurs, Hornets over Lakers, Hawks over Magic) and a slew of scares (Pacers, Sixers, Knicks, Nuggets and Blazers all had a good shot to win) do I want a do-over on any of those predictions?

Not yet.

But, I will say that the theme to the first weekend of the NBA playoffs has to be "parity".  The games, by the way, were uniformly outstanding affairs in which either team could very legitimately have won.  Both the Spurs/Grizz and Celtics/Knicks featured buzzer-beater shots to tie/win, and the Bulls had to overcome a nine-point deficit in the final three minutes to pull out their victory.  Compared to years past, there doesn't seem to be as much separation between the elite and the other playoff least not yet.  After all, it's only been one game and since I didn't predict any sweeps all of my predictions are still in play.

That said, I think that the Spurs and the Magic have to be the favorites with the most reason for concern.  The Spurs because, without Manu Ginobili (sat out with an injured elbow), they really might not be as good as the Grizzlies.  Ginobili's availability moving forward is of paramount importance, as without him I likely would have changed my predictions.  And the Magic because it's very possible that the Hawks have figured out a plan that works...let Dwight Howard get as much as he wants (like his 46-point/19-rebound explosion in game 1) and just lock up everyone else.

On the flip side, I still am not yet worried about the Lakers.  They lost game 1, but their team played poorly and Chris Paul was just about perfect.  The Hornets have definitely earned the increased attention they'll get moving forward, but if I had to bet right now I'd still bet the Lakers get to 4 wins before the Hornets get another 3.  We'll see.

Lots of fun, so far.  I'm really looking forward to this next week, when the stories will really start to be told.


By: smckeown
On: 4/18/2011 1:18:00 PM
Good stuff, Dre. I spent the entire weekend watching basketball. Not only did Spurs and Lakers lose, but the Celtics and Bulls should have, too. Both teams were outplayed, imo. That offensive foul on Melo near the end of the game was garbage, and good luck getting another performance like that from JO. Celtics are in trouble. Probably not this round, but I don't see them getting to the Finals again.
By: Jacobdk
On: 4/18/2011 1:20:00 PM
Going into the weekend it looked to me like this was the most lopsided opening round in memory, where even the 4-5 series were likely to be no contests. I think it's too soon to declare parity, or that the Hawks have figured anything out, but it certainly has made the upcoming week more interesting.

As a Knicks fan, my initial reaction to yesterday was "well, that was their chance." But on second thought, they really looked like the better team (even with Carmelo sucking) and I can definitely see the series going 7 now.
By: The Professor
On: 4/18/2011 3:20:00 PM
Re: Celtics/Knicks, your guess is as good as mine. I wrote out a series of 3 things that I thought were involved in the Celtics "flipping a switch" in the playoffs...the purpose of which was to indicate that they wouldn't actually be flipping a switch, but instead there were just playoff factors that helped them. My 3 points were about the stars (KG specifically) playing more minutes, there not being any back-to-back games (specifically back-to-back games on the road, where the Celts were AWFUL), and that there were quantitative reasons to expect Rondo to perform more like "Good Rondo" than the "Bad Rondo" we've seen of late. All 3 of the things I pointed out came true...and the Celtics STILL probably should have lost. Weird game.

That said, Shannon, how could you have watched all of the games and came to the conclusion that the Celtics are the team to list as in trouble? As much as they struggled, they looked better than the Lakers/Spurs and at least as impressive as the Bulls/Heat. Seems to me that the only way to look at the data from the weekend and conclude that the Celtics are the team in trouble is to have already felt that way coming into the weekend. Unless ALL of the contenders are in trouble...which one could certainly argue is possible...and which makes this postseason pretty fun right out the gate!
By: smckeown
On: 4/18/2011 4:31:00 PM
Dre - I just like bringing up the Celtics, because they're your team. That said, between the Spurs (No Manu), Lakers (that game was a fluke), Heat (I didn't think they looked all that bad in Game 1) and Celtics, I do worry the most about the Celtics. Manu will be back for the Spurs, but Perkins ain't coming back for Boston. The Celtics have looked like a completely different team since the trade.
By: The Professor
On: 4/19/2011 8:30:00 AM
Yeah, I know part of it is you giving me a hard time, and I definitely understand how folks could have questions about the Celtics. They are one of the more unconventional teams in recent memory, based not in small part on the age of their best players and what that means for their night-to-night consistency. That said, Perkins isn't the factor. If they lose, they lose, but unless all of their bigs get hurt again it won't be lack of Perkins that leads to the loss.
By: The Professor
On: 4/19/2011 8:34:00 AM
Re: Monday night games. The Heat game went about like I would have expected. For cases like the Heat, the Lakers, and the Celtics where I think one team is a lot better and just got a bit ambushed in game 1, I expect relatively easy game 2 wins.

The Bulls game was interesting, though. It was like a carbon-copy of game 1. I still expect the Bulls to win this series, fairly easily in terms of games played but they aren't showing the separation that I would have expected in this round. I don't know yet whether it's just a matchup thing (maybe the Pacers just match up well with them) or whether it says anything more, but I'm keeping an eye on it.

Oh yeah, and about the Spurs, it doesn't sound like a slam dunk that Manu is coming back for Game 2. Without Manu I think the 2 teams are about a wash, and if the Grizz can steal another one before he comes back the deficit could be too big to overcome. The Spurs better come with their A-game in game 2.
By: smckeown
On: 4/20/2011 9:20:00 AM
Dre - Any thoughts on Game 2 of the Celtics/Knicks series? The Cs won, and really that's all that matters, but I they didn't look too good. Wonder how the series would look without Amare and Chauncey suffering injuries? Toney Douglas was an embarrassment trying to guard Rondo. I expect Madison Square Garden to be pretty crazy for Game 3 ... still think this could get somewhat interesting.
By: The Professor
On: 4/20/2011 2:53:00 PM
I'm certainly looking forward to seeing what happens when it gets to MSG. I didn't think the Cs would have this much trouble with the Knicks, though when Amare was sitting it actually gave me a bit of pause because I've seen too many teams rally around that and go hard (like the Knicks ended up doing last night).

That said, if you look at the Celtics/Knicks games all season, they've ALL gone like this. All 5 have been close games, 3 of them have come down to a last possession, all have been ugly and physical. And somehow, the Celtics are 5 - 0. Could just be the way these teams go.

This series also looks a lot like the Celtics/Heat series did last year. Outside of the 1 fluke blowout in game 2, the other 3 games were just like these Knicks games have been...close battles that the Heat could legitimately have won, one of which was won on a Pierce buzzer beater. One difference is that the Heat won the game when Wade went into video game mode, while the Cs fought off Amare's huge game last night. :Shrugs: Hard to know what, if anything, to read into it.

I still think the Celtics win in 5 games or less. But all it would take is one Knicks win on Friday to make this a series again, so we'll see...
By: The Professor
On: 4/20/2011 2:55:00 PM
Correction. The Cs fought off MELO's big game last night (Amare's not-quite-as-big-game was in game 1).

Leave a comment

Commenting is restricted to registered users only. Please register or login now to submit a comment.

Tell Someone

  • Digg it
  • submit to reddit reddit
  • Add to Mixx!

Recent Favorites

What I Think You Should Know About The USMNT
Needless to say, it's been a great World Cup thus far. The USMNT having some success would be awesome.
La-La-La-L.A. Gets Lord Stanley!
Just a few things that caught my eye:
  • Alec Martinez's Cup-winning goal celebration? # priceless. I wonder if he'll ever get his gloves back.
  • Henrik Lundqvist stopped the 50th shot of the game. He couldn't stop the 51st. #connsmythe if the Rangers had found a way to come back in this series.
Do Analytics Take the Fun Out of Sports?
Apparently that was the topic of one of the presentations at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston last week. The presenter, Yale's Edward Tufte, opined:

Don't let people tell you analytics are reductionist and take the joy out of sports. They mostly just take the stupidity out of sports.

Is he right?

RotoWire's AL LABR Squad
The 2014 AL LABR auction went down at the Arizona Republic offices in downtown Phoenix Saturday night. It's a 12-team, 5 x 5, AL-only league with 2 C, 1 1B, 1 2B. 1 3B, 1 SS, 1 CI, 1 MI, 5 OF, 1 U and 9 pitchers. Everyone has $260 to spend.
The Problem With Drafting Billy Hamilton
Billy Hamilton went for $28 in the NL LABR auction this past weekend. I discussed this with a fellow writer who participates in Tout Wars with me later this month and we discussed the problem with investing heavily into Hamilton.

RSS Feeds