KSAT Ball Hog Blog: Spurs-Clips prediction; Round 2 review
SAN ANTONIO - The war of attrition known as the 2012 NBA Playoffs is now in Round 2 and there's more storylines than an episode of WWE Raw along with nearly as much flopping! Let's discuss with the KSAT Ball Hog Blog's preview of the conference semis. (Yes, I know I slacked on the predictions. For the record I had Spurs in 6, Lakers in 7, Heat in 6, Boston in 5)
The Clippers ruined the "Memphis revenge series" for Spurs fans and more important, deprived us of what would have been an epic Tiago Splitter vs. Hemed Haddadi matchup in Round 2! I watched most of the Memphis-LA series and am still surprised the Clippers won. Chris Paul carried LA, but the Grizz choked away Games 1, 4 and 7, and who would have thought Kenyon Martin and Reggie Evans would be more effective than not only Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, but Randolph and Gasol.
Memphis' loss is the Spurs gain. SA would have beaten the Grizz, but the Spurs would have had to grind out the series. They get an easier matchup with a banged up LA squad and the quick turnaround for the Clips smells like a blowout Game 1 win for San Antonio (See Lakers-Thunder).
LA will certainly push the Spurs though. CP3 is the best player on the court most nights and they have an athletic, deep frontline. But the Spurs are firing on all cylinders offensively and if Manu continues to regain his game then I see no way they lose this series. Let's not forget Parker's play which could cancel out Paul, the depth the Spurs throw at opponents, which is key due to the injuries we've seen and Timmy D's solid defense against what I thought was better Utah frontline. I'm going Spurs in 6, and I'm giving LA two wins out of respect for CP3.
I mentioned the WWE in the intro because I'm not sure they could draw up better storylines like we have with the Lakers-Thunder series. Durant vs. Kobe, Westbrook vs. his own head and Harden's beard vs. Metta's elbow. Game 1 was a blowout, but almost expected with the Lakers coming off their battle with the Nuggets, and the Thunder just waiting, seething, ready to jump all over the Lakers and Metta.
OKC wants to run while LA wants to play at a slow pace. Whoever plays their style wins. It's that simple. I'm sticking with my original pick of LA, but the Lakers are showing a disturbing trend of not showing up for games like Game 6 at Denver and Game 1 Monday night.
OKC has been playing with the same intensity all season long and their three gunners (Westbrook, KD, Beard) all seem comfortable in their roles late in games despite the media trying to cause their demise. I was sold on LA being able to slow things down, but if Gasol and Bynum aren't instant double-doubles all series long, then LA will be done. For the sake of my pick and because I really want to see LA and the Spurs play one final lasting-legacy series, I hope they show up. Lakers in 7.
Before we move on, what the heck happened to the Eastern Conference? Some of the NBA's biggest storylines this season (Linsanity, Dwight Howard) came out of the East and now we're left with the Celtics-Sixers and Pacers-Heat in the East semis. It's like the West semis are "The Avengers" and the East semis are "The Vow" on Blu-Ray. Anyways, here we go with some more predictions.
Celtics - Sixers
Apparently the Sixers are still in the playoffs, who knew? It's not that I don't like Philly, I just really don't care. They have a young, athletic, hardworking team and Iguodala plays like a mad man on both ends of the floors, but can David Stern just do his best Vince McMahon impersonation and just rig this thing for the Celtics.
I don't even think Boston is playing great but at least it makes the East Finals watchable. I'm going Celts, but this is another team like the Lakers that better figure out what's going on and quick because Philly probably should of won both those games in Beantown. Truth is, maybe Boston just isn't that good, maybe the Pierce/Allen injuries are worse than we were led to believe. Either way it's turning into a cakewalk for the Heat in East. Celtics in 5 thanks to sneaky Stern.
Now to the Heat and Indy series. If you read my last blog (thanks Chloe my dog), then you know I like this Pacers squad a bunch. They go 8-9 guys deep, have two low post threats in Hibbert and West, solid perimeter players in Granger, George Hill and Paul George, and a dude nicknamed Psycho-T coming off the bench. That's all good, but they don't have LeBron James.
I'd like to introduce everyone to what I call the "LeBron Level," which was on display in Game 1. With Bosh out, Wade struggling and the Heat down at halftime, James just went insane. He controls the game in every way possible. He dropped a 32/15/5 game on Indy and shut down Granger on the other end. You could see the shift in momentum when James got fully in tune with the game.
The Pacers are good enough to steal a few games. They have to take advantage of Bosh's injury and will go down swinging, but this is still Miami's show in the East. South Beach in 6.
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