What I Hope To See In The Playoffs

Kurt —  April 15, 2009

• Great, focused defense from the Lakers. Every game. Every quarter.

• For the Lakers to see as little of Deron Williams as possible.

• As joem said in the comments, for San Antonio, Houston and Portland to win tonight so they can all be tied with Denver and the NBA can spend a day explaining its tiebreaker rules to the world.

• More articles like this one.

• Someone having to use a towel to get the gel off their hands after accidentally touching Andrei Kirilenko’s hair.

• Andrew Bynum running and beating other bigs down the floor for early, deep, unstoppable post position.

• The Heat/Hawks series to go seven games.

• Lots of tweets from LakersNation (if you’re on Twitter you should be following).

• More ShanWOW!

• Kobe going jab step, jab step, pull up and when the defense reacts a quick pass into Pau in the post that catches everyone napping and results in an easy bucket with the left hand.

• Less than 1,563,693 TNT promos for their upcoming shows.

• Less than 1,563,693 stupid things said by Charles Barkley.

• The Machine from the corner for the open three. A lot.

• Derrick Rose to virtually single-handedly win a series.

• For the Lakers to see as little of Brandon Roy as possible.

• Derek Fisher to step up and hit a clutch shot in the fourth quarter. Actually, this one is pretty much a given.

• Doug Collins talking about when he coached Jordan. Actually, this one is pretty much a given, too.

• Boston and Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals. That will be an epic series.

• Another title for Tex Winter before he walks away.

• A parade down Figueroa.

119 responses to What I Hope To See In The Playoffs

  1. “What I want to see out of the playoffs” and then Jerry Buss holding the LOB. Yeah, that about says it all.

  2. I am really psyched. Every title is special, but a title this year would mean a lot. My favorite remains my first one form my adolescent years: 1985–closing out the Celtics in the Garden.

  3. i have to say, if i coached jordan, you wouldn’t be able to shut me up about it either. irritating, sure, but understandable. i’m just saying.

    also: i’d like to see someone — either the cavs or the magic or the sixers or especially the lakers, but someone — dance around like a bunch of jackals after eliminating the celtics from the playoffs. not very christian of me, i know, but i ain’t no christian.

  4. I want to see long limbs and active feet.

    I want to see shrunk lanes.

    I want to see Bynum take over the Finals.

    I want to see Gasol and LO to make interior passes to each other.

    I want to see Kobe daggers.

  5. Well spoken, Kurt. I’m totally psyched, and ready for it to be Sunday already.

  6. I want to see Kobe win the trophy that really matters, the Finals MVP.

    An article by Rick Reilly covering the life of Kobe.


  7. What I don’t want to hear in the playoffs: Doug Collins refusing to allow even a moment of silence while announcing.

    Really excited for this years playoffs. Nearly every series should be solid.

  8. Also: this line from the Reilly piece makes me a little queasy:

    He has no plans to opt out of his contract at the end of this season, but “you can never absolutely say no, right?”

  9. I want to see Kobe Phil holding the Larry O’Bryan trophy.

    8. Kobe will likely opt out. People have mentioned it before but it makes more sense for him to opt out now and sign a final max contract that will last till hes 36 (particulalry before the new CBA rules).

  10. Desire causes suffering.
    There is a way out of suffering.
    The way to do this is:

    Right understanding
    Right thought
    Right words
    Right action
    Right occupation
    Right effort
    Right mindfulness
    Right concentration

    Go Lakers.

  11. i know he probably will, and i know he’ll probably remain a laker. i know these things. still makes me queasy. last time was pretty dicey.

  12. I want to see Pau step up to stop a lay-up, not do the back pedal as a 6″3 guard cruises in.

  13. all i want to see is the lakers winning the championship. i don’t care how they get there, i don’t care how long it takes them to get there, and i don’t care who they beat in the finals. kobe is my favorite player of all time but i don’t care who wins finals mvp, as long as a laker gets it. it would be icing on the cake if he got it though. i’ll see you guys on figueroa

  14. I’m with T34 – the less I hear Doug Collins yammer on and on and on and on, the better.

    I don’ t care who an analyst is or what he/she has done in life, there’s still no way I want to hear about their personal experiences of anecdotes every other possession.

    Collins damn near ruined the Olympic broadcasts last summer talking about “When I coached Michael…” here and “My son Chris played for Coach K” there. Enough already.

    No one’s watching the playoffs to hear about you, Doug.

  15. After the finals are over, I want to see the media take 20 seconds to truly appreciate Kobe and the greatness of this team rather than constant worship of Lebron. This WILL happen when they win it all. Lebron is not taking the title of best player just yet.

  16. What I hope to see is no more of those damn Closer or any of those other TNT “We Know Drama” commercials that ran every other second during last year’s playoffs.
    I almost stopped watching because of them.

  17. Also, OT aside to Rhymenoceros: My name is Hip-Hopopotamus, and my rhymes are bottomless.

    [long, awkward pause.]

  18. I want to see Dwight Howard imitate Stan Van Gundy.

    I want to see a tag team death match between Reggie Miller and Doug Collins against Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson (Hubie Brown and Mike Breen commentating the whole thing).

    I want to see Dirk take out SA.

    I want to see CP3 make George Karl feel like its 1994 again.

    I want to see Odom and Pau force Lamarcus Aldridge to put the ball on the floor and not get open 18 footers.

    I want to see the Cavs over-inflated confidence (aka insecurities) exposed when they lose Game 1 of the ECF at home.

    I want Derek Fisher to bring his daughter to a parade.

  19. I want to see Phil get his most vindicating and historical 10th ring.

    I want to see a hungry Lakers squad…”hungry like a group of hungry vets”

    I want to see Charles Barkleys moronic, hypothetical statements not even be put to test.

    I want the referees to not mess up a pivotal moment during these playoffs.

    I want there to be no new conspiracy theories after these playoffs end.

    I want Bill Simmons to have no choice but to include Kobe Bryant as at least a top 10 player of all time after these playoffs.

    I also want Bill Simmons to cry after watching his Celtics crumble.

    All in all, bring the rings back to L.A.

  20. I want to see the Lakers hungry like “they’ve been eating soup with a fork.”

    –The Jet

  21. lolsaangkeleesr April 15, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    I want to see LeBron/Pierce/Dwight/Wade/whoever walk meekly off the Staples Center court on a beautiful June evening.

    Nothing else matters.

  22. I want to see the Lakers *SMOKE* the LeBrons in the Finals with Kobe absolutely dominating.

  23. I want a title. Period.

  24. 22. I’d prefer a close-out on the road. Preferably Cleveland/Boston.

  25. John Hollinger’s all-defense team has some pretty bad picks. discuss?


    Kidd and Wade over kobe are just the half of it.

  26. My postseason awards:

    Coach: Doc Rivers
    Exec: Otis Smith (Rafer deal)
    6th Man: Jet Terry
    Most Improved: Jason Kidd-seriously
    Defensive: Wade
    MVP: CP3 (15 win team without him)

  27. For now, I’d be happy with a win over the Jazz on Sunday.

  28. Fan of the Mamba April 15, 2009 at 3:00 pm


    When I read Hollinger’s selections I simply laughed. D-wade and Jason Kidd are better defensive players than Kobe. Yeah right. It’s truly official as far as I’m concerned. John Hollinger hates Kobe Bryant and he can’t give him credit for much. Any opportunity he has to discredit Kobe he goes out of his way to do so.

    He even called Lebron a lock down defender. Hahahahahahahahaha! His defense has improved but I can’t name 2 people he locked down all season, can you?

  29. K,

    Hollinger doesn’t make any picks. His computer does. He prays to his laptop.

    That said, I don’t think Kobe was his usual 1st team Defense self this year. I would have no problem with him not making 1st or 2nd team this year.


    The Rafer deal? Wow. Houston gave up Rafer for a reason.

  30. Wondahbap-Where is Orlando without Rafer. I didn’t say Rafer is Magic Johnson, just that without that deal, Orlando is a 46-48 win team that gets knocked out in the 2nd round. As they are now, they have a legit shot of getting to the ECF and have beaten the Cavs 8 of 11.

  31. PS- Wade has clearly played better D than Kobe this year. I love Kobe, but he hasn’t been near a 1st team defender these last 2 or 3 seasons.

  32. Agree. No problem with Wade or even Kidd over Kobe this year. Kobe mostly relaxes on D for 3.5 quarters then turns it up late.

  33. 23)
    I want the Lakers to “smoke” the Cavs in the Finals, with Kobe focusing on his defense and taking what the Cavs defense is giving the Lakers. That will probably mean that he averages about 21-22 ppg, and gets a bunch of assists and “hockey” assists. That will do more to demonstrate his overall basketball skills/understanding/maturity than if he averages 35 ppg.

  34. the other Stephen April 15, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    is tex still around? i haven’t heard much of him for a while.

  35. Since the Boston Massacre II on June 17, 2008 I’ve waited for the playoffs to arrive. Last year’s regular season was a much wilder ride, but I think what gave us Laker fans hope for this year is that we knew we had the players to get us right back into the Finals. The hard part was waiting until this year’s playoffs to get here. We are fully healthy going into the games that matter and I think that we will see just how dominating our team can become. 65 wins is nothing to sneeze at and we all know a fully healthy Drew probably gives us a run at 70+ wins, but that will pale in comparison to the title run our Lakers are embarking upon. We have 2 key players who either didn’t play or play much in last year’s postseason (Bynum/Ariza), plus we’ve found a decent defensive-minded backup PG in ShanWOW. No disrespect to the other teams, but this team has all the intangibles to make a run at a perfect post-season through the West. It might not happen, but we have what it takes…
    What we all want is another title and the possibility of more to come (with Phil and Kobe). Go Lakers!

  36. kwame,

    I understand all of that. He helped to keep their footing. I just don’t think it’s Exec. of Year worthy.

  37. The problem for me with the Alston deal is that the Magic gave up the best player two years from now, maybe right now in Lowry. I’m not sure he ever got the trust he deserved in Orlando, maybe he just didn’t fit their system well (I did not see enough of him to make that judgement). But Houston came out great in that deal.

  38. i don’t know. Wade gambles so much. I’d be awesome to see a stat “steals attempted vs. gotten”

    and per Simmion’s MVP column here are “splits of the NBA’s six quickest point guards against Dallas this season: Tony Parker (31.3 ppg, 7.3 apg, 52 percent FG); Paul (33.3 ppg, 12.5 apg, 57 percent FG); Rondo (16.0 ppg, 14.0 apg, 62.5 percent FG); Harris (29.5 ppg, 10.0 apg); D. Williams (24.8 ppg, 11.5 apg); and D. Rose (19.0 ppg, 7.5 apg).”

    all who i assume Kidd has primary responsibility over

  39. What a great regular season! Wins vs. Boston (X2), Cavs, going 6-0 on the road, surviving another Bynum injury, smart work by Mitch (Mihm, Vlad, S. Brown, etc.)…….all this spells destiny to me.

    Also want to say thanks to Kurt and the rest of the commenters for making this blog enjoyable and my entire Lakers experience fantastic. Now my “game nights” consists of visiting this blog, watching the pre-game telecast, GAME TIME, post-game telecast, Sportscenter highlights, then rounding out the night reading this blog again). All in all, it is a great time to be a Lakers fan!

  40. 38

    Lowry came from Memphis, not Orlando. It was a 3-team trade.

    I will disagree with one of your points and say I want to see a Kobe vs Roy series. I’m also hoping for a LeBron vs Wade matchup in the East.

  41. i hope to see kg come back strong and help the celtics decisively put the cavs away on the way to the finals… and then have the lakers sweep the celtics to avenge last year’s defeat.

    and also for bynum to play strong in the playoffs and give us a glimpse of why the post-kobe lakers will be just fine.

    and also for kobe to get his first finals mvp trophy (just think his leadership this year is underrated, and getting finals mvp would be nice recognition for all the effort he’s put into the team this season).

  42. 41. Joel, you’re right. My bad, I forgot that.

  43. Actually K, in the article, Hollinger says Kidd basically only guards 2’s now.

  44. My award choices
    Coach: Brown
    D-player: Howard
    6th man: Terry
    MIP: Granger
    MVP: James

    I don’t think Kobe deserves 1st or 2nd team defense this year. There are times when his defense has been awesome this year (guarding James for instance and usually in the 4th quarter) but he has not done it consistently.

    Tex is still a consultant for the Lakers. He has to be with the team 2 weeks out of the month. Apparently he is suffering from shingles though and plans on retiring after this season.


  45. MVP: LeBron
    DPOY: Howard
    MIP: Durant
    ROY: Rose
    6th Man: Terry
    COY: Mike Brown

  46. MVP: LeBron
    DPOY: Howard (Bynum should make earning this award his #1 priority next year)
    ROY: Sose
    6th Man: Odom
    MIP: Durant
    COY: Phil

  47. The only person you can make an argument for over LBJ, in terms of MVP is Kobe because records should count for something. Wade’s season has been stellar, but basically in the same category as LBJ’s last season and/or Kobe’s a few seasons back.

    Anyway, things i would like to see in the playoffs, other than the obvious trophy are:
    1. Kobe needling incredible passes that allow him to sink daggers.
    2. Some sick transition plays that display our team’s passing prowess – i’m thinking in the line of that Chicago highlight where Kukoc behind-the-back passed something going nearly out of bounds…
    3. Pau blocking Ray Allen, or whoever it is that we face in the finals displaying his mobility
    4. ShanWOW showing his hops for blocks.
    5. Farmar breaking out of his slump
    6. At least one 20+ margin win.

  48. If you get bored tonight, I’m one of the guys chatting over at True Hoop tonight. I’ll be in and out of the conversation, convincing the world that neither Orlando or Boston wants a piece of Chicago right now:


  49. Harold. 4 and 5 looks like they’re mutually exclusive.

    To the mini-Kobe/Wade defensive player argument: Yes, Kobe probably has 2 1st-team all defensive awards over the last 4 seasons that he was given on reputation alone. He should’ve been 2nd or 3rd those years. This isn’t one of ’em. He’s consistently put in more work this year.

    About Wade, I love him, but he gambles for steals and makes hero blocks from the weak side. Incredible, but defense has to be a little more than that.

  50. PeanutButterSpread April 15, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    I want total Lakers domination.

    And for Kobe to win his first Finals MVP.

    And no matter what, Kobe is still MVP in my eyes. Always and forever. Seeing this man play in person was a real privilege that I will never forget.

    Here’s to hoping this year’s playoffs will be redemptive for the Lakers and Kobe.

  51. I want to see the emotion on Kobe, LO, and Pau’s faces when they realize they are champions.

  52. I want Chick to call a playoff game and hear him say, “Rejection, ShanWow makes the color come off the ball”.

    MVP: LeBron
    DPOY: Howard
    MIP: Crash Wallace
    ROY: B. Lopez
    6th Man: Terry
    COY: I want to go with Scott Brooks just to be contrarian but SVG gets my vote.

  53. rhymenoceros, I’m actually looking forward to the TNT we know drama promos. The Closer promo a few months ago: “Sanchez, I’m issuing a direct order to keep breathing!” one of best moments of unintentional comedy.

  54. Jason Terry celebrates way too much. Sixth man or not, that much cocky celebration should normally be reserved for superstars who’ve earned it. Annoying little pest.

    The stats could prove me wrong, but intuitively I feel like Houston will have great difficulty winning close games consistently, unless they can convince Ron Artest that contested fadeaway threes might not be the best option in that – or any – situation.

    As I type this, Yao spins his way beautifully to the hoop. They need to go through him. Ron Artest is an offensive disease in the clutch.

  55. Wow, Mason just made another incredible clutch 3 to tie to go into OT and the clock running down to 0. Ball out of his hands before the clock ran down.

  56. Anybody watching the Hornets-Spurs game?

    Why the hell did NO not take a foul there????

  57. 56

    It was Finley, not Mason.

  58. Sorry my bad. I’m watching online on a tiny screen and bad resolution. Hard to tell who is who.

  59. Phil said something in an interview this morning that I think makes a lot of sense. When asked why he had only won one COY award in his illustrious 18 year coaching career, he said that if you are expected to be on top and you achieve that, all you have done is met a standard. It is the surprises that warrant the awards. In that vein:

    ROY: Brook Lopez
    MIP: Danny Granger
    Sixth Man: LO
    DPOY: Dwight Howard (thought it would be KG again)
    COY: Stan Van Gundy
    MVP: D-Wade (NEVER expected him to have this kind of year off of injury, his team is DEAD without him, I won’t hold the Heat’s record against him the way Kobe’s was in 03, and he helped me win my fantasy league)

  60. ok guys,
    I’m watching (kinda, w/o sound) the portland vs denver game and they showed just now that the Spurs beat NO in OT, and then they showed the playoff standings/match ups.
    is this correct…??? now it looks like Portland vs Houston is in the lower bracket, this means we wouldn’t see Portland until the finals if this is the case.
    can anyone of you out there confirm this? are the brackets set already?
    in my mind, portland was the ONE team out west that I didn’t want to see, or if we did, be at the west finals. (not before)
    that, would be great news, in my humble opinion.

  61. If Portland wins they are tied with SA and Denver. Denver has the tie breakers so they are 2nd. I think SA has the tie breaker with Portland so they are 3rd. That leaves Portland in our bracket for the 2nd round.

    If Portland has the tie breaker with SA and wins tonight, then they are #3 and SA is in our bracket for the 2nd round.

  62. Houston is the one who really took a header tonight. They could have finished 2nd, if they had beaten Dallas and Portland had beaten Denver. Now they fall all the way to 5th and lose home court advantage in the bargain.

  63. Chris – I saw the same graphic. I may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure (even though Houston/Portland was at the bottom of the screen) that it was the 4/5 matchup. Denver is 2, SA is 3, and either Portland or Houston will be 4 (the other will be 5). So I believe we would see them in the 2nd round, if they get past Houston.

    I could be wrong, the matchups are confusing

  64. I hope to see the Laker team that I saw at the beginning of the year, those Defensive Specialist.

  65. The first round Portland/Houston series will be a real basketball war. And the winner will be our toughest test in the West, and in the second round.

  66. One good thing is that we will either face Portland or Houston, but not both.

  67. i want a PG16 Finals MVP, please.

  68. dave in hillsboro April 15, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    “Derrick Rose to virtually single-handedly win a series.

    Boston and Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals. That will be an epic series.”

    Can’t have both now. Boston vs. Chicago in the first round.

  69. Anyone know the playoff schedule yet? I live in SLC and got tickets last night to game 2.

    Ross Siler thinks that 1/3 of the fans in SLC will be Lakers fans.


  70. Some real interesting series in store for us.

    If Artest’s smart he’ll post up. There is absolutely no wing player on the Blazers that can even begin to contend with his power. If he can stay in control, I think his physicality will give the Blazers’ wings some problems. It’ll be one of those things where the Blazers may have to learn the hard way, but it’ll definitely sharpen their mentality for future runs.
    I expect Artest/Battier to do as solid a job on Roy as anyone’s done all season. A large part of the series will ll come down to Aldridge exploiting Scola, and if the physicality of Portland’s big men will affect Yao.

    It’s so hard to call any of these yet. Paul vs Billups? A streaking Dallas vs a staggering SAS?

    This’ll take some serious thought before making picks..

  71. As much as I think that Portland has a lot of potential and a lot of young talent and to an extent I like them, I notice that they are developing a cockiness (kinda young and naive type of cockiness) to them that I find really annoying.

    I want the Lakers to CRUSH Portland if we end up facing them.

    I want Pau to show everyone that he can Mbang like Mbenga.

    I want Phil to win his elusive 10th ring.

    I want Kobe to get a Finals MVP.

    Finally, I want this to be the beginning of another decade of dominance like during the Lakeshow years I enjoyed as a kid.

  72. so if I’m hearing you correctly, we are going to have to face the winner of Portland vs Houston in the 2nd round, (provided we get out of the first, which seems pretty likely).
    too bad, that graphic showing Port/Houston at the bottom gave me a false hope.
    oh well, it’ll toughen us up on the way to the championship!

  73. Who has the whiter fans: Portland or Utah?

  74. Kurt, you’re doing a lot of Chicago propping. Tell us why they can give Boston a run.

  75. Magic – I second that. I find that cockiness incredibly irritating, considering this is the Blazers first trip to the playoffs. They’ve been hearing for so long about how good they’ll be that it’s gotten to them.

  76. Reed – I’ll do my best Kurt impression and hazard a guess – Derrick Rose. On top of that it might take Boston 1-2 games to get back into sync with KG. Personally I don’t see it going more than 5 games, but I will likely end up regretting that statement.

  77. if portland wins against denver wouldnt they get the 3 seed? they have a better division record than san antonio

  78. lol actually that was a horrible Kurt impression, no real analysis at all….ah well, A for effort

  79. Portland won the head to head series against the Spurs.

    Looks like the Lakers and Blazers are on a collision course for the 2nd round. That’s just as scary (if not more) than Utah in the 2nd round last year.

  80. portland is DESTROYING denver
    I feel bad for houstan
    so anyway my question above…?

  81. I actually think that out of all of the teams Portland could have faced, Houston presents the most problems. Artest and Battier are a superb pair of wing defenders, and are going to hound Roy and Outlaw, Portland’s primary scoring threats, that entire series. Scola can easily outmuscle Aldridge, Yao will dominate Przybilla or Oden, and Blake against Brooks or Lowry is a wash. Portland plays a very methodical halfcourt game, and that’s definitely what Houston wants to do, as it allows them to maximize Yao’s advantage.

    The bench play looks like a wash (Lowry against Rodriguez, Wafer against Fernandez, Hayes against Oden), but Houston notably has an advantage with Landry who can score against either Frye or Aldridge.

    Now, I’m not saying it’s going to be Houston dominating, but the matchups tend to give them the edge, even with Portland having homecourt.

  82. I can give Chicago a decent defense in a series against Boston…In fact, when I was watching PTI today, Bob Ryan of the Globe said that The Bulls are the team that can give Boston problems. He didn’t state his reasons (beyond Salmons torching them in their last meeting) but I can give some:

    1)Rose is a great penetrating guard and a player that is a difference maker in any game. He’s not the type to get psyched out by the bright lights and higher stakes in the post season and he’s going up against Rondo who he is just as athletic as and will not back down from on offense or defense.

    2)The Bulls have the bigs that can play with KG in terms of athleticism (Noah and Thomas) and also have Miller who can draw a big away from the basket to open up their slashers (Rose, Thomas, Salmons) to get easier buckets at the hoop.

    3)The Bulls have some a good enough bench (Kirk, Miller, Tim Thomas) that can score and push Boston’s weakened depth and force the starters to play extra minutes.

    4)The C’s are still banged up (KG, Powe, Tony Allen) and facing a team like the Bulls – a team with defined roles and pretty good players with a variety of skills (athleticism, shooting, rebounding, guard play) can push them further than they’d like and steal a game or two that force the series into a position where the C’s don’t want to be.

    5)The C’s are a bad turnover team and the last thing you want is to give Ty Thomas, Rose, Salmons, et al the chance to get out and get easy baskets.

    6)Salmons is the type of player that can give Pierce a run for his money. Salmons has good size and will make Pierce work on defense. Obviously Paul is a much, much better player than John, but Salmons will not be intimidated and (if he can match Pierce in a game or two) it can be the difference in a win or a loss for the C’s because Pierce is a player that can win a game on his own. If Salmons can negate on of those games that could be the difference in a series.

    All that said, the Celtics should and probably will win. But, a lot of these Bulls players have playoff experience (especially Gordon, Kirk, and Miller) and they won’t be phased by the playoffs. I think it will be close…

  83. 74. Snoopy. I think Utah is whiter.

    Speaking of fans, did anyone see the clip during the timeout of the Portland fan carrying the sign wishing his wife a happy anniversary and thanking her for letting him attend the game. Damn. Talk about messed up priorities. He should have at least brought his wife to the game.

  84. Argopile – I believe San Antonio just clinched their division. In a 3-way tie, that is the first tiebreaker. Portland is not a division winner because Denver has a better division record than Portland, so Denver clinches the division title and the number 2 seed. Because Portland is not the division winner and SA is, SA eeks out Portland.

    That’s my understanding, but I haven’t looked too deep into it.

  85. Sorry for the double post, but if you ask any Blazer fan who they’d least like to face, the #1 answer would probably be Houston. The Rockets won the season series and have had Portland’s number. Henry Abbott even said he’d really like to avoid the Rockets in the first round because Portland has done well against every other team in the West, just not Houston.

  86. I don’t think that this will happen every night, but tonight Kwame Brown led the Pistons both in scoring (17) and rebounds (13) and made the shot that sent the game into overtime.

    I’m sure that when some Laker fans read this, they’ll think that I’m on drugs.

  87. For the 2-7 and 3-6 side of the bracket, I can’t tell who is going to get to the WCF. Denver is good but untested in the postseason, New Orleans is getting its key players back from injury and Paul and West have had a lot of burn throughout the season, San Antonio will either dominate or struggle to score, and Dallas is a streaky team but has notably toned up the effort recently. It’s a wash. I won’t be surprised at whoever comes out of that fray.

  88. I think the 2-7 matchup will hinge on Chandler returning at least partially to form. Still, Billups is the one guard I can actually see giving Paul fits. I’m not sure how Paul would guard Billups, and Billups is the only PG who might actually be smarter and savvier than Paul. That is an amazing individual matchup.

  89. 10, very Buddhist of you. Although Zen Buddhism that Phil practices is much more about practice than doctrine.

    Finally the playoffs are here. I’ll be writing my playoffs predictions on my own blog; hopefully, Kurt, you won’t mind if I link to them here later, as they’ll be much too long to post in these comments. Let’s hope we get some hotly contested, fairly officiated games, and nothing like the past game in Portland or the 2006 Finals.

  90. The first round series i am most excited about for each conference:

    Denver/NO – Denver finally in a position for a playoff run but play CP3 & Company who were one loss from the WCF last year

    Miami/Atlanta – Should be perhaps the closest series of the first round based solely on Wade’s dominance. It will be fun to see if he can keep his team competitive.

  91. Wade-Lebron in the 2nd round? A budding individual rivalry that this league hasn’t seen in 20 years? The playoffs are never short of subplots or drama.

    On a kind of related note to that, I’ve realized that TNT’s NBA coverage is so top-notch (even with Barkley and Reggie Miller) that the ‘We Know Drama’ and ‘The Closer’ ads don’t even bother me that much anymore. I draw the line at the Bill Engvall show, but still, TNT is my favorite network to watch on. Love listening to Kevin Harlan’s “Right between the eyes!” and “With no regard for human life!” still gives me chills.

  92. alright how is it that the number 1 team needs to get through

    Utah, Portland and Houston to even GET to the western conference finals?!?

    not worried, just shocked at how this happens!

  93. Meow – Not quite true, Houston and Portland play in the first round so we’ll only see one of them. I think 2-8 were so even there’s not a huge difference, but I get what you’re saying. If I had my way, we’d play the Nuggets, Spurs and maybe the Mavs. The Mavs might be streaking, but they’re not a physical team. Playing physical teams like Utah or grind-it-out teams like Houston might wear us down a bit. Not really that serious of an issue though, we’re tough.

  94. Reed, everyone beat me to some of my points. But the Celtics/Bulls matchups were close, like us they are bothered by young athletic teams. Like Darius said, this is a Bulls team that can match the athleticism of KG, maybe even surpass it since he is hobbled. Also, Miller and Salmons give them some steady play as professional veterans that compliment the up and down nature of everyone on that roster. Then there is Rose, who is coming into his own as an elite PG. Rondo is going to struggle with him.

    I could see this going a lot like the Atlanta series for the Celtics last year, them finding a way to win in 7. But to me the Celtics look like a team that can be beat and the Bulls come in hot and confident.

  95. PeanutButterSpread April 15, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    Yes, it almost seems unfair that the Lakers have to bruise through Utah, Portland/Houston to get to the WCF, but perhaps if they make it to the WCF, it’ll be the hallmark of a champion.

    Of course, this is all hypothetical, but I think this is what Phil meant when he said that they wanted the Jazz.

    If you’re truly the champion, you shouldn’t fear any team (well okay, maybe the bobcats in the Lakers’ case). You should welcome each challenge and conquer them.

    In any case, I really hope that’s the mentality the Lakers have adopted.

  96. 97, the compensation, of course, is that the WCF should be fairly easy in comparison, while the ECF teams will be beating the cr*p out of each other. Given that we all feel that this is a ‘championship or bust’ year, I personally don’t think it’s such a bad thing that our biggest challenge is likely to be in round two. In fact, I like the idea of maybe getting some rest in/after a cushy WCF before (I hope) the NBA finals. Am I just a homer? Don’t think so– I think whichever team comes out of the 1-8/4-5 bracket will handily beat the winner of the other bracket, whether that’s us, portland, hou, or even utah.

  97. I find it odd that people here are this worried about Houston. Granted, I’m not saying we’re going to waltz in and crush them, but we’ve had their number all year (when was the last time we swept a season series with them 4-0)? Artest and Battier are fantastic defenders, but whoever is suiting up at the four for Houston is going to get burned by Odom or Gasol, and Yao starts to become a liability the moment we go into the pick and roll or start pushing the tempo. Also, Houston struggles to create offense without Yao on the floor, and in a playoff series with our defensive mentality presumably more coherent and our executions better, their role players are going to have trouble.

    Just saying, I’d much rather have Houston than Portland in a second round matchup. One of the reasons I was happy tonight was that Dallas beat Houston, forcing Houston into a matchup with Portland, who Houston matches up with very well.

  98. the other Stephen April 16, 2009 at 4:14 am

    so here we have a dilemma: do we root for the bulls, or do we root for the celtics so we can savage them utterly later on?

  99. Never root for the Celtics, even if it means us not getting to pay back for last year.

    I’d be happy to have them go down as an once-and-done team, and never again relevant in the postseason, a la Detroit. (well detroit did last a bit)

    Sustained excellence should be something only associated with the Lakers 😉

  100. 99

    I’m with you BCR. Battier and Artest *should* give Kobe problems in theory (and Battier has guarded him well in the past), but the fact is that he’s burned them repeatedly this season.

    More importantly, who on that team can you trust with decision-making responsibility at the end of a close playoff game? Brooks is not a PG and both he and Lowry are greener than a Celtics jersey. Artest has the ability but makes too many knucklehead plays. For all his problems this season, this is where they will miss T-Mac the most.

  101. Oh dear. Looks like KG could end up missing the playoffs altogether.


  102. I don’t really see Houston getting out of the first round again – I have a feeling that Przybilla is going to be allowed to beat the crap out of Yao in the post, and that Artest is once again going to lack self-awareness and continue to force the issue from the perimeter when it’s obvious to everyone that he just doesn’t have it.

    Plus, I think Scola is too undersized to contain Aldridge. The Fernandez-Wafer matchup off the bench could be fun, though.

  103. General question: do you, as a Lakers fan, want the easiest path to a potential title, thus increasing the chance of getting the title, or do you want the toughest path, which would decrease the chance of getting the title, but would bring an increased appreciation for the title if they do win?

  104. I believe the toughest path will increase the chance of winning a title. Why? Because no one is beating Cleveland in the East, so every feasible path to the championship ends with Cleveland. Thus, us having the toughest path will prepare us for the Cavs moreso than blowing through the conference like we did last year.

  105. Good Morning Laker fans, was listening to espn 710 this morning and their saying KG might possibly miss the entire post season, definitely not good new for the Celtics. I really can’t picture them getting past Orlando or Cleveland if this is the case.

  106. 103–

    The easiest, IMO. However, with Utah in Rd 1 and then Portland or Houston in Rd 2, I think they have the most difficult path of all the possible permutations.

    I am extremely disappointed as bballfan and Lakers fan, that KG is apprently really hurt. I told a Celts fan I work with yesterday that now we would find out whether they were just resting him or if he were really injured. Apparently it is the latter. Obviously, it detracts from the playoffs on a macrolevel, but also as a Lakers partisan, this means that if the Lakers win it, Celtics fans will always have an excuse. I still hear about injurues when the 1987 Finals come up. Perhaps it is petty, but it bugs me. I want the Celtics (and all teams) at their best.

  107. The Dude Abides April 16, 2009 at 7:52 am

    103, 104. If the idea is to be prepared for the Cavs, then our preparation for Lebron’s style could be aided if we play another team that relies so much on one player. That team would be the Hornets and Chris Paul, so it would be nice to play them in the WCF. However, Orlando now has the luxury of easing Hedo back into the rotation slowly, and they match up very well with the Craboliers.

    I’m bummed about KG. I really hoped to crush Boston in the Finals.

  108. The Dude Abides April 16, 2009 at 8:09 am

    I’m going out on a limb here, but probably not too far, when I predict that HOU will beat POR in six games or less, despite the Blazers having home court. They swept POR this season, and some of the games were routs. The Blazers are now going to get a taste of postseason basketball. However, perhaps they are a more confident team now after beating us last week and blowing out the Nuggs last night.

    Unfortunately for the rest of the league, I believe our Lakers are going to storm through the playoffs in a similar manner to the 2001 team. Kobe for Finals MVP.

  109. If KG is not going to be back for the playoffs, I will officially call the Chicago upset in 6.

    Based on my recent track record with the NCAA Tournament, you should not wager on that information.

  110. If I may present another contrarian view, I don’t see anyone challenging the Cavs in the East now that KG is most likely done. Obvious Boston is too banged up to do so now, but Orlando is dealing with injury issues as well. If Hedo and Rashard don’t get back to 100% soon (ankle sprain and knee tendonitis, respectively), both possible ECF matchups could be a cakewalk for the Cavs.

  111. I think Powe, (I heard he will be playing) Perkins, Davis and Moore will provide enough to get the Celtics past the Bulls.

    Orlando could be a different story, however.

  112. Chicago in 3!!!!

    I honestly think Chicago has a chance, Bostons D has looked atrocious lately.

    I’ll be at the game on Sunday, I expect the Lakers to send an even stronger message than they did Tuesday night.

    (ps. that Spurs win officially re-ignited my hate for the franchise, would have liked to avoid Portland until the conference finals)

  113. And Doug Collins talking accurately about the game he is watching and “analyzing” rather than discussing “heart” or “toughness” for a dozen times a night.

  114. People, if the Lakers can’t beat Portland, they don’t belong in the Finals. C’mon, we all believe the Lakers are the best team in the league. Portland, NO, Houston and Dallas all look like they are going to be tough. SLC, Denver and a hobbled SA are no push overs either, but does anyone see a team beating the Lakers four times (aside from the Bobcats, I mean)?

    I’m psyched for the playoffs to begin and to see what the Lakers can do with a full and healthy roster. Has Kobe been coasting? Will our defensive intensity pick up? Does our record against the elite teams in the league indicate we do have another gear for the playoffs?

    Right now it is all about Utah. Let’s get through this round and enjoy watching all the great matchups before dissecting the next round.

  115. if kg won’t be back this season, i’d love to see the celtics get wiped out in the 1st round. if the lakers play well enough to make it to the finals, revenge against boston wouldn’t be satisfying w/out him around. w/ no kg, i’d rather see cleveland.

  116. One of the worst officiated games that I have seen all year. The refs cost Utah between 12 to 16 points with their sloppy lopsided officiating. Rewatch the game and keep track if you disagree. At one point the Lakers had 9 blocks, 4 of which were obvious fouls that were missed. I hope that when the series gets back to Utah the refs recipicate the foul calling in the Jazz favor. I understand that Utah is not supposed to win the series, but please call a fair game.