Friday, May 11, 2012

2012 NBA - Round 1 Series Recaps

Been watching a lot of basketball and hope that you have too.  Unfortunately this year has been marred by injuries to several players but I hope that it doesn't impact the playoffs any further.  

Heat vs. Knicks

If the Knicks didn't have bad luck, they'd have no luck at all.  After losing Shumpert and Baron Davis to knee injuries, and Stoudemire for a game, the Knicks just seemed to be lost.  I thought with a fuller roster, they would have given the Heat something to think about, but it just wasn't meant to be.  With the off season now in full swing, the Knicks have some questions that need to be answered.  1) Do you call Phil Jackson and see if he's ready to coach again (and that's not a knock on Woody who did a great job with what he had).  2) Do you bring back JR Smith or do you hope he opts out?  3) Do you go after Nash in free agency?  4) and finally is Carmelo the guy that you can build around and win a championship (I think you can). 

Thunder vs. Mavericks

The young bucks took down the defending champions and looked good doing it.  Westbrook and Durant did a great job swapping responsibility of taking over the game.  They do have to worry about the health of Kendrick Perkins who missed some time due to a hip strain.  They also have to be prepared for the rust that they've accumulated while waiting to find out who they'll play in the 2nd round.  The Mavericks go into the off season with some 'what if's' around Odom and Chandler and 'what happens' next year.  The Jet is a free agent (if he goes to Miami, whew!!), and it looks like Deron Williams will be the top target for this team to be able to bounce back next year. 

Spurs vs. Jazz

This was ugly, I mean really ugly.  I thought the Jazz would have been able to compete in this series but they looked like a man showing up to a gun fight with a .22.  They seemed to be able to play with this team for a few minutes at a time, but then that old man basketball got to them.  The Spurs looked great in dismantling this Jazz team.  The Big 3 in San Antonio (Ginobili, Parker, and Duncan) showed up but more telling was the bench showed that they are just as capable of scoring and defending when called upon.  The Jazz go into the off season and they have to find a way to get some better point guard play.  Their bigs actually showed some heart in this series, so I'm not as worried about them. 

Bulls vs. Sixers

We knew it was over after that horrific Rose knee injury, but last night was a fitting (and possibly not) end to the Bulls season.  They know who the guys are that they can count on (Rose, Noah, Gibson, and Deng) and they probably know who they can't (Carlos Boozer, I'm talking to you).  The Bulls have to keep this team together and try and get back next year.   They will pay dearly for that (around $85M), but there's nothing else to be done.  The Sixers didn't impress me, especially in a closeout game playing a Bulls team without Noah and Rose.  The Sixers didn't want to win that game last night, running an offense that consisted of hold the ball for 20 secs and then find a way to throw up a contested 3 pointer at the buzzer (I apologize to my neighbors for the yelling and screaming that you heard last night, that was me and the TV).  Up next for the Sixers, the Boston Celtics and we can now start the clock as to how much longer the Sixers will be in the playoffs.   

Hawks vs Celtics

You know that you should never, under any circumstances, bet ON the Atlanta Hawks.  Never!!!!  If they were in a one pony race you should bet on the jockey or someone, but not the Hawks.  There is something about this team that just needs to change.  Johnson is a good complimentary player, but he's not your ace.  Horford came back and was probably the 2nd best player in this series for the Hawks.  It's gotta be the 'Curse of Chris Paul' that hangs over this team.  The Celtics aren't spectacular but they someone how get it done.  Pierce is playing on a sprained knee and without him, I'm not sure this team could score 70, especially with Ray Allen hobbled with bone spurs.  The good thing in all of this is that the Celtics get the Sixers and another chance to play old man basketball (slow it down) against a younger team.  The bad is that if Pierce's knee gets worse, what happens?  I'm not sure KG has many more of those 28pts, 14 rebs games left in him. 

2012 NBA Playoffs - Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers

Let the 2nd Round of the NBA Playoffs begin and first up are the Heat and the Pacers.  The Heat beat a Knicks team that just couldn't get it, mostly health, together to put up more of a fight and the Pacers get here after trouncing the Orlando Magic and Stan Van Gundy (#dietpepsiswag).

Heat:  LeBron is showing people that he's the best player on the planet, those are not my words, but from the sage named Charles Barkley.  I tend to agree that this version of the Heat are scary on both sides of the ball.  We can safely say that the torch is slowly being handed to LeBron from Wade as the leader of this Heat team and that makes them even better.  In this series we are going to expect that Wade and LeBron show up, but this won't be the cakewalk that some think this will be.

Who has to step up:  It's going to be the Heat bigs.  Bosh, Haslem, Anthony, Howard, and might we even see Pittman and (gulp) Curry in this series.  The Pacers have length, height, and depth in their frontline and the Heat are going to have to use the bodies they have to deal with this.
Pacers:  The Pacers are that team that no one wants to play.  They are a solid team that can play defense and the ability to put points on the board when necessary.  Did I mention that they are deep at every position?  They pose problems for the Heat because they can slow it down and protect the rim, but the question may be who steps up from an offensive side of the ball in order to offset the Heat Big 3.

Who has to step up:  Danny Granger, Paul George, and Roy Hibbert.  Yes, Granger and George, both essentially play the same position, but these guys are going to have to score and score efficiently.  Did I mention defense too?  These two guys are going to have to average 20 a piece and come close to matching the output of Wade and LBJ if the Pacers hope to win this series.  Roy Hibbert is going to have to protect the paint and not be in any dunk posters (do they still have those?) that we used to put up on our wall.  Hibbert is the biggest guy on the court and should be able to get a few easy buckets and alter some shots.   

Outcome: Don't really like the matchup for the Heat, but it's something that they can handle.  Heat should win this one in 6 and prepare for the East Conference Finals.