Welcome to the Peanut Gallery. A coalition of NBA bloggers that are ticked off, depressed, angered and ready to jump off a bridge because their respective team isn't in this year's playoff picture. Some of them have taken on smoking, binge drinking and have resorted to watching old playoff videos where Reggie Miller was King, Agent Zero was nailing buckets and Vince Carter was a shot away from the Eastern Conference finals. But one step to recovery involves group discussion of this year's playoffs, and we'll continue this talk therapy over the course of the post season.
Who are they?
and I'm Dr. Romes administering the therapy and asking the questions.....
Be it a team rivalry, a hate on for a team, or a personal vendetta, who are you rooting for to go down in the first round?
Ben (Fanster's Phoenix Suns Community): This mostly deals with hate, but added with the personal vendetta of our Mavericks Fail campaign...well...failing, I truly hope the Mavericks go down. They came to Phoenix and beat us and did the same when the Suns had their pivotal match-up in Dallas on 4/5. Simply put, they won when they had to and the Suns didn't. And I'm bitter. And I blame them.
Sorry Mavs fans, but I hope you lose. :)
College Wolf (TWolves Blog): It's too bad all these teams can't lose in the first round:
Lakers (hate them.)
Nuggets (see above. Eat it Franny Elson.)
Spurs (see above. KG > Duncan.)
Dallas (see above. JKidd you suck.)
Houston (nothing personal, just slightly dislike them.)
New Orleans (see above.)
David (Rufus On Fire): The only team in the East I'd truly love to see go down is the Celtics. I actually love the way they play, from an abstract point of view, but I despise all the extraneous crap they pull, I despise Kevin Garnett's woofing, I despise Paul Pierce when he decides to be a swagger player rather than an unpredictable automaton assassin (which I love), and I especially despise Jesus Shuttlesworth's puke-a-licious faux snarl while he chews gum.
Jeff (Pete Marasmitch): The Celtics, if only because of Kevin Garnett. While there are many fans out there who love KG's intensity, I find it grating (sorry, Sonia). My opinion of him lowered even more when he taunted Jose Calderon, teased Jerryd Bayless, then implied that Chris Bosh should leave the Raptors. While I appreciate KG's basketball abilities, I think he could improve in the sportsmanship department.
Kyle (Truth About It): Hmmm....let's see, as a Wizards fan, this is a tough. There's some baby....plays near a lake in a city that's a huge mistake....who I'm supposed to dislike. Oh yea! Anderson Varejao!...he's a big d-bag. He also has a teammate who I'm not too fond of.
But alas, Project End Cleveland's Season doesn't look like it will be derailed any time soon, especially with wind of Garnett being out for the playoffs and Orlando stumbling backwards into the post-season.
I'd like to think that the Pistons are no slouch as an 8th seed, but I really wouldn't be thinking clearly, would I?
Looks like my only hope will be to *gasp* root for Kobe and the LA-LA-Lake Show to take down LeBaby.
Tom (Indy Cornrows): I'm sure I'll be happy to see the Detroit Pistons go down in the first round, although I can't say the hate is real strong. Considering I sided with Larry Bird and the Celtics in the '80s, I always want to see the Lakers knocked out of the playoffs, although I'd prefer they lose in the Finals since I enjoy rooting against them and I love watching Kobe Bryant play. So the longer they can stay in the playoffs before losing, the better.
U-E (Hoop Heads North): I'm rooting for the Cavs to go down. It's probably not going to happen but I'm a big time Pistons fan and this team still has some pride and talent left, showing occasional flashes of the old swagger throughout the year. The stars need to align perfectly for 2 weeks for it to happen, but with injuries to the Celts and Magic, the Pistons have just about as good a chance as anybody to knock them off before the Finals. Game 3 will be the key.
Zeb (Blue Blitz): Personally, I really really hate the Lakers. They're probably not going down in the first round (though I do think it will go 7 games), but I would love to see them lose. Most of the Lakers fans are complete bandwagoners, and most have completely forgotten the horrible person that Kobe Bryant is. The team always beats my teams, no matter what kind of a season they're having. The Lakers are, basically, the anti-thesis of me. I wish them no luck at all, and hope that they crash and burn.
Who do you think will be the surprise team of the first round?
Ben (Fanster's Phoenix Suns Community):I'm not sure this will be much of a surprise, but I really think New Orleans is going to be fun to watch and will go far. They are finally getting players healthy again and Chris Paul is basically unguardable for any opposing team. Coupled with their likely opponent being the injury-riddled Spurs, I'll be cheering extra hard for a Hornets win in 5-6 games.
College Wolf (TWolves Blog): Whomever plays the Denver Nuggets. I am not convinced the Nuggets have enough to beat the Jazz or Mavericks in the playoffs. I realize they have the second best record in the West, but I am a doubter until they prove me wrong. Therefore, by default, a #7 seed winning would probably be the consensus biggest upset or surprise.
David (Rufus On Fire): I really want to see Portland play Houston in the first round. The Blazers are a great team, but I have a feeling about Houston, that they're special. Maybe it's because the narrative demands it, that the Blazers will have more chances after this year, and the Rockets might not, because Yao's place near the top of the league is as tenuous as the joints in his lower body. Don't sleep on a team that can throw four superb defenders at you for 40 minutes.
Jeff (PeteMarasmitch): The Pistons, since they have been-there-done-that veterans Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Allen Iverson; this might be AI's last opportunity, no? The question marks would be rookie head coach Michael Curry (similarly for the Heat's Erik Spoelstra and the Bulls' Vinny Del Negro) and Rasheed Wallace's frame of mind.
Detroit is facing Cleveland in the first round? Uh-oh..
Kyle (Truth About It): Seems like no one expects the Nuggets to do much, especially after they got smacked by Portland 104-76 in the last game of the season.
Still, I think they have a fair chance of getting past New Orleans...that series is tough to call and looks to be the most exciting of the first round. I'll also peg the winner between the Hornets and Nugs to get to the Western Conference Finals, but neither has a chance against the Lakers.
Tom (Indy Cornrows): The Chicago Bulls have been gathering momentum as they head into the playoffs with their young talent begins smelling a little success. If Derrick Rose and the young bigs can rise to the occasion as the playoff intensity rises, they could make life tough for the Celtics.
U-E (Hoop Heads North): I think Miami will beat Atlanta, but that's not that big a surprise as both teams are evenly matched. I think the Chicago Bulls will surprise a lot of people with a strong first round, although they'll lose in a thrilling 7-game series to the defending champion Celtics. It will take some Paul Pierce and/or Ray Allen Game 7 heroics needed to pull it out. Derrick Rose will be impressive in his playoff debut, leaving Bulls fans excited for next year.
Zeb (Blue Blitz): It depends on what you call a "surprise team". As far as advancing from a low seed, I think that the Hornets, being the complete team that they are with excellent talent at the two most important positions in basketball (C and PG), will beat the Nuggets. But, as far as shocking anybody, I think that the Jazz will take the Lakers to 7 games (here comes my anti-Lakers bias again). Nevertheless, I think that the talent is so good in the upper-echelon of the NBA this year that no first round series will go 4 games, and only 1 or 2 will go 5. Most of the lottery bound teams cut a lot of their better veteran players this year and tanked, so it should be interesting to see what kind of noise the lower seeds can make.
Are the Cavs the real deal? Will they flat out dominate in the first round of the playoffs?
Ben (Fanster's Phoenix Suns Community):Yes and yes. I don't see the Cavs losing more than 5 games the entire playoff race before getting to the finals. They'll have, by far, the easiest road of any team in the league and with a dominating Lebron James running the show, look out NBA.
College Wolf (TWolves Blog): Yes.
They will not only flat out dominate the first round, they will dominate the entire Eastern Conference. No teams can stand up to them. *If* KG comes back, the Celtics have a puncher's chance, but I wouldn't put my money on them. Plus, when would he even get back? What will his body be like? Would he be ready to play even?
It's LeBron's season of destiny. Cavs over Lakers in the Finals. Bank on it.
David (Rufus On Fire): Orlando is the only Eastern Conference team with a prayer of beating Cleveland in a seven game series, and that's only if Dwight Howard shuts down Big Z and the threes are raining. In the West, L.A. can match Cleveland's depth, but I think Pau can be bullied inside when the Cavs go big, and they lose a huge talent advantage when the Cavs go small with LeBron at the four and Pau and Bynum can't be on the floor together anymore. So, yes. The Cavs will utterly steamroll their first round opponent.
Jeff (PeteMarasmitch): The Cavs look like the real deal to me. The players are clicking (no pun intended), Mike Brown is coaching, they're playoff tested ... Cleveland should host another championship series, as long as their key players stay healthy. Wear a cup, Andy V.
Kyle (Truth About It): I guess so...I mean, the Cavs are "real" enough to deal with the East. First round dominance? I think Detroit will sneak in two wins.
Tom (Indy Cornrows): I think the Cavs are the real deal when you consider the level of play they're getting from Mo Williams and Delonte West to compliment LeBron James. While I think the Cavs will win their first round series, I don't think they'll dominate Detroit since the Pistons still have still have plenty of veterans who are real comfortable in a playoff setting.
U-E (Hoop Heads North): Are the Cavs the real deal? Maybe. I need to see how the supporting cast responds in some tightly contested playoff games. If any of the first 3 games vs the Pistons are tightly contested and guys like Szczerbiak, Mo Williams and Big Z aren't making their shots, the Cavs are beatable. They'll still be tough, with LBJ heroics always there for the bailout, but a team other than the Lakers will have a shot at taking them down. If the supporting cast responds in the first round with clutch play, I think it will set the tone for the playoffs and their confidence will be up throughout. Punch their ticket to the Finals in that case.
Zeb (Blue Blitz): Well, as for the second question, absolutely not. They're up against what is essentially the same Pistons team that they've battled time and time again, except with no Billups. I think that the Pistons have enough fight in them to make it go 6 games.
As for the first question, it really comes down to a question of what the real deal is. If it is going to the NBA Finals, I think that they definately have the tools to do it. Do I think they will do it? Not necessarily. The playoffs this year are a different animal, and I believe that the later matchups will come down to how easily the higher seeds could depose of the lower seeds in the earlier rounds. In other words, if the Cavaliers go 6 with the Pistons and 7 with the Hawks, they might be worse then the Magic, who trounced through the Sixers and went 5 with the Celtics. Not saying that that will happen, just setting up a hypothetical situation.
Ironically enough, the Cavaliers have a much harder route to the finals this year than the Lakers and Magic (especially with KG out), so I think that, ultimately, will do them in.
Great session guys, we'll continue this therapy over the next month.
Are you a depressed fan? Join the discussion, let's talk it out. Post your comments below and give us your thoughts/rants....
Photo credit: (Sportsnet.ca)