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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Real Final Four

Well, here we are near the end of May, and my NBA predictions have completely come to pass. Therefore, I thought I'd break down my Top Four Seeding for the rest of the post season.

1. Dallas. I don't think I ever considered them the best team in the NBA all season, however, they seem the strongest right now. Mark Cuban does not do things to fail, or just for hobby. He does things to succeed. He learned from his early mistakes of bringing in tons of talent and overpaid players and has surrounded Dirk with players who do what they do well. Also, I'm one of those who believed Avery Johnson would be great coach clear back when he played with the Spurs. He is a great leader and a wonderful basketball mind. He has figured out how to get a great offensive team to play solid defense as well. When you play the Mavericks, you now have to ask, "Can we stop them as well as they can stop us?"

If you read this blog at all, you know that I am actually a Pistons fan, so this was very painful for me to post Dallas as the first seed. However, San Antonio is clearly a better team than Cleveland, and Dallas defeated San Antonio. Also, as you will see if you continue to read (though I've probably lost all of my female readership by this point...all four of you), I don't believe Phoenix is as good as Miami, and therefore Dallas will be more rested going into the Finals. That has to help be a tie-breaker.

2. San Antonio. Yeah, I know, they are out of the playoffs. However, I'd just like to illustrate that David Stern did blow it this season. This has been one of the best playoffs, overall, that I can ever remember (to this point). However, I don't believe this is due to the new seeding format (having a goofy system of three divisions per conference) but rather that teams are built well and there is genuine parity back in the league. The San Antonio/Dallas series was one of the best playoffs series of the last three decades, yet the series got buried in Round 2 of the playoffs. Poor move Mr. Stern. This classic series should have been set up for the conference finals. Your two best records in a conference should not face one another in the second round.

3. Detroit. While Cleveland isn't a contending team (yet, but Cavs fans should be very pleased with what they have), I don't think we should downplay Lebron too much. This guy will redefine the rosters of the entire Eastern Conference at some point, IF he remains in Cleveland. Detroit played a hard series, but I believe that acted as an agent to refocus them and the team is constructed in a way not to wear out. I believe the acquisition of Kelvin Cato will actually play a factor in this series as he will be one more big body to foul and wear out Shaq. There team is constructed to take down teams built around one or two stars.

4. Miami. Miami, however, is not built in such a way to take out a complete team. Of course, Wade to rise to a new level and then Detroit could be in big trouble (imagine if Cleveland had Shaq). That's possible, but I think Wade has already taken quantum leaps and probably doesn't have another left in him. Meanwhile, having Gary Payton and Jason Williams at point guard should not be encouraging in the playoffs. Also, anytime you have Antoine Walker on a playoff roster, you have to be a bit nervous, right? But thank you New Jersey for rolling over like a frightened dog and making the Detroit/Miami series so interesting since Miami gets to be so rested!

5. Phoenix. Amare's knee did not just kill my entire fantasy season (and possibly next season too!), but he probably keeps this year from being the greatest playoffs of all time. Can you imagine a conference finals of Miami/Detroit in the East and Dallas/Phoenix (with Amare) in the West...after having Dallas/San Antonio and Detroit/Cleveland matchups in round 2? How can people argue about Steve Nash's greatness? Do you really think Tim Thomas, Boris Diaw or Raja Bell would be this good on other teams? Shawn Marion, maybe, but Nash has a way of making everyone better. However, I think Dallas' offense is closer in quality to Phoenix than Phoenix's defense is close to Dallas'. (Did that make sense?)

I see Detroit and Dallas in the finals...and actually see Detroit winning it all again. This series will be incredible though. Each team has four to five guys who could step up in each game. The edge goes to Detroit with experience, home court advantage and the fact that they probably understand team dynamics a little better.

MVP: Chauncey will win it again. Tayshaun will deserve it (again).

[Update: This article was actually published on Sam Amico's probasketballnews.com. If you are a fan of the NBA at all, you really should be checking out his site.]

1 Comments:

  • At 9:45 AM, Blogger Gary Underwood said…

    C'mon dude. Spurs are overrated, and are past their prime. They only have three players!

     

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