Conference Finals: Part Deux


The Jazz are a good team which benefited greatly from their seed and from Golden State’s upset more than anything else. As boring as it is, they are not ready. San Antonio just does everything they can do better than they can do it. Duncan is just too hungry right now, and if you need any more evidence than that near-triple double with blocks then you need to visit the Church of Biased Sports Fans and confess your ignorance.

There will be some excitement to behold, Deron Williams facing his first elite team in the playoffs, Boozer dealing with Duncan, the contrasting defensive styles of Kirilenko and Bowen, Eva Longoria, D Fisher probably killing the Spurs again at some point or another, the look on Francisco Elson’s face when he sees all the white people in Salt Lake, there’s drama aplenty, but non of it will translate into more than two wins for Utah. When SA is getting 6-10 points from all their role players like Bowen, Barry, Horry and Oberto, they are extremely tough to beat. One of the most overlooked people on this team is Michael Finley, who has settled into his role as a perfect backcourt compliment to Ginobili and Parker.

I’m giving Wild Card status to Utah’s white guys, Okur, Kirilenko, Harpring, and to a lesser extent, Giricek, and their ability to hit open shots. Okur should be solid as he has been all postseason, but the other 3, I’m not so sure. Utah’s got enough firepower and flopping-european guys — the most underrated plot of the postseason thus far, how even network guys like Doug Collins are getting fed up with the flops — to win two close ones and stay in the rest, but down the stretch the advantage goes to the team with the most jewelry and the most poise, the Spurs. Spurs in 6.

And now for our Intermission. Take a look at those AL East standings. Bit of a shocker eh? I’m sure Sox fans are loving every minute of this, but it’s a little boring isn’t it? If the Yanks don’t put things together, which I’m very confident they will, to some capacity at least, then you get to watch three more months of drama-free baseball devoid of any playoff implications barring a bizarre set of injuries. Sound fantastic huh? Apart from me Yankee fandom, I just want some good baseball post-All-Star break, and I have a feeling the pinstripes will start doing something about that once two guys by the names of Hughes and Clemens step back on the mound and Abreu looks at some game-tape of himself. Back to Basketball.

Is it possible to be less excited about Lebron right now? I mean, for all the hype the guy had and everything he acomplished last season, any momentum he had hit a brick wall quite some time ago. I don’t think the Vince Carter comparisons are apt because the kid is just too young to not figure things out sometime down the road, possibly as early as next season. It just doesn’t look like he’s about to mature in two days for this series so lets look foward to more 3’s with 17 seconds left on the shot-clock.

So far the Eastern Conference Playoffs have been nigh unwatchable for anyone but the fans of the teams in the thing, and it’s not looking like it’s getting any more exciting, unless you love watching Drew Gooden and Zydrunas take jumpers and bad hook-shots all day while Larry Hughes and Bron jack up 3’s. The Cavs are a poorly constructed, jump-shooting team full of guys who really are not good jump-shooters — that’s what happens when you lose all patience and give a career .281 3-pt shooter 70-million when you miss out on Ray Allen and Michael Redd, which was partially Lebron’s fault because he was insisting that the organization do something and using his then-soon-to-be expiring contract as leverage. Yes, they got screwed over by Boozer, who looks sort of smart at the moment, but sometimes you have to take your licks and move on. But, unfortunately the Cavs panicked when they saw the 2006 Free Agent class and there was nothing but Ben Wallace’s fro sticking up among a bunch of “who’s that” journeymen. And now they are stuck with a team more distant than you think from being a championship-caliber squad.

As for the Pistons, yeah they fell asleep a bit against Chicago (a vastly superior team to Cleveland) but they took care of their buisness as always. I’ve come to realize that the Pistons are a team that can beat itself for one, maybe two games in a series but if you are going to take four from then you are going to have to earn it like Miami did last season. Chris Webber is due to make a serious impact in this series, and he won’t even have to score to do it. There will be little Cleveland can do to defend the high-post offense with Webber in the game. Sheed will have some huge moments brutalizing Gooden and Z, McDyess will be Mr. Solid as usual, Tayshaun will run around being skinny and making shots and those two guards should tag-team Eric Snow because I’ll say one thing for Hughes — he can be a very good defender when he tries to be.

Judging from their past, it would be safe to say the Pistons drop one or two games because they fell asleep on a team or because ofcLebron willing his way to a win, but the memory of last year’s Easterns will haunt them enough to inspire just the right amount for a sweep. There will be close games, yes, I will want to turn off my TV because I can’t stand watching Varejao flop whenever somebody looks at him, yes, but no, Lebron does not have it in him this year — unless he’s been playing a great game of possum. If Bron explodes out of the gates, then this series is going to 6, but my prediction is the brooms will be out in game four, and the world will be a better place for it. Then next season we can read a Sports Illustrated feature about how that sweep haunted Lebron and made him hungry again, even inspiring him to seek out MJ. Yes, a Pistons sweep will make the world a better place. Deeeeeeeeetroit Basketbaaaaaaaalllll. Pistons in 4.