Monday, April 30, 2012

National Basketball Association (NBA) 2012: The Playoffs are here!

By: Evan Troxel

I had a hard time of picking out what I was going to type about for this week’s article.  I finally decided on the 2012 NBA Playoffs.  In both the Eastern and Western Conferences of the 2012 NBA playoffs, the winner of the #1 or #8 seed will play the winner of the #4 or #5 seed in the second round of the playoffs.  The #2 or #7 seed will play the winner of the #3 or #6 seed in the second round of the playoffs.

In the Eastern Conference in the first round of the NBA playoffs, the #1 seeded Chicago Bulls will play the #8 seeded Philadelphia 76ers.  This series will be interesting to watch.  For starters, I dislike the uniforms and the logos the 76ers have been displaying since the start of the 2009-2010 season.  I really like their uniforms, uniform colors, and logos from the 1997 & 1998 season through the 2008 & 2009 season.

To be serious though, the Bulls have some good players on their team in Carlos Boozer, Richard Hamilton, Kyle Korver, Joakim Noah, and Derrick Rose.  Derrick Rose has been the face of the franchise so far this season.  Unfortunately for Derrick Rose, he tore his ACL in Game 1 of their first round 7 game playoff series and will not be back for the remainder of the playoffs. 
The good (star) players for the 76ers in my opinion are Tony Battie, Elton Brand, and Evan Turner.  I think 76ers head coach Doug Collins will make this 7 game playoff series between these two teams “a lot more interesting” than it is projected to be.  Even with Derrick Rose’s season ending injury, I still see the Bulls winning this series but the 76ers I think will surely give the Bulls a fight and something they have to earn.

The #2 seeded Miami Heat will square off against the New York Knicks in the first round.  The Heat will probably win the series but I’d love to see the Knicks end the Heat’s season.  My opinion about the Heat is that I think they have the worst defense in the NBA (and that includes non-playoff NBA teams).  I think that because their star players in Shane Battier, Lebron James, Mario Chalmers, and Dwayne Ward are more of the stereotypical “offensive” player instead of the “defensive” player and they are more concerned about entertaining the fans by scoring in creative ways offensively other than just playing good basketball all-around offensively and defensively.

The Knicks on the other hand have star players in Jeremy Lin, Carmelo Anthony, Mike Bibby, Tyson Chandler, Baron Davis, and Amar'e Stoudemire.  Honestly, I don’t think any team should overlook the Knicks and any of the star players they have.  The Knicks actually have some pretty good star players (that I have listed here) who all have played for a different team at some point in their careers.  The current Jeremy Lin comeback-from-injury watch is that it sounds like (at the earliest) he could be back playing for the Knicks in their Game 4 best of seven games playoff series with the Heat.  Realistically, I think Lin will (for sure) be able to play in the Knicks next playoff series if they can eliminate the Miami Heat and/or two weeks from April 30th, 2012.
The #3 seeded Indiana Pacers will play the #6 Orlando Magic in the first round.  The star players in my opinion for the Pacers are Darren Collison and Tyler Hansbrough.  The star players for the Magic are Glen Davis, Dwight Howard, J.J. Redick, Jason Richardson, and Hedo Turkoglu.  I think the Magic will win this series because they have better star players in my opinion.  If the Pacers win the series, then they need more media attention because I hardly even know about the Pacers nowadays.

The #4 seeded Boston Celtics will play the #5 seeded Atlanta Hawks in the first round.  The star players for the Celtics are Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, and Kevin Garnett.  Allen is the Celtics 3-point shooter, Pierce has been the face of the Celtics franchise, Rondo gives the basketball to his teammates and as a result gets assists, and Garnett likes to dunk the basketball.  The star players for the Hawks are former Kansas Jayhawk Kirk Hinrich, Tracy McGrady, and Jerry Stackhouse.  As for the Hawks star players, I haven’t even watched any of these guys play in a long time.

I really think the Celtics will win this series and they haven’t received very much media/press attention this season (which I find to be odd since they are from Boston) and I think they are one of the best teams in the NBA right now.  On the bright side (if you are a Hawks fan), they have won the first round of the playoffs the past three seasons and have only lost the first round series three times since after the 1992-1993 season.  Also, the Hawks beat the Celtics in Game 1 83-74 so don’t count the Hawks out just yet.

In the Western Conference in the first round of the NBA playoffs, the #1 seeded San Antonio Spurs will face the #8 seeded Utah Jazz.  The Spurs compiled a regular season record of 50 wins and just 16 losses!  The Jazz on the other hand, won 36 and lost 30.  My favorite NBA team is the Jazz and I’d say my second favorite NBA team in the Western Conference is the Spurs. 
Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker are the star players for the Spurs.  I just don’t understand how the Spurs are that good!  Tim Duncan to me looks like he has slowed down his pace and has been less aggressive in his efforts in playing the game of basketball in recent years.  Maybe that’s a good thing for Duncan considering that he is 6 foot 11 inches.

The star players for the Jazz I’d say are forward/center Derrick Favors, forward Gordon Hayward, center Al Jefferson, forward Paul Millsap, and guard Jamaal Tinsley.  Some things to look for in the Jazz is that in recent games they have been very good in rebounding both offensively and defensively.  If the Jazz can keep their opponents from scoring they have shown that they can get on a roll and make several baskets offensively.  I don’t want to be biased, but from what I have seen this season the Jazz are the only NBA team (in my opinion) who actually have a good defense.

Both the Spurs and the Jazz I think have been waiting a long-time for a lockout shortened season so that they can capitalize on other team’s lack of preparedness.  I think the Jazz will upset the Spurs and win this playoff series.  I just don’t see how the Spurs will win the NBA Finals (if they make it that far) unless they end up playing the Heat (because Lebron James plays for them).  

The Jazz have lost three straight playoff series (in 2008, 2009, and 2010) to the Los Angeles Lakers and they are tired of losing playoff series.  Want proof?  The Jazz have been to the Western Conference semifinals four times and the Conference Finals one time since after the 1997-1998 season.  In the Conference Finals in 2007 the Jazz lost in a best of seven series to guess who?  That’s right.  The San Antonio Spurs.  The Spurs ended up winning four of five necessary playoff games to the Jazz in 2007.

The #2 seeded Oklahoma City Thunder will vs. last year’s NBA Champions the #7 seeded Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the NBA playoffs.  The star players for the Thunder are Kevin Durant and Derek Fisher.  The star players for the Mavericks are Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, Shawn Marion, and Lamar Odom.  The Thunder posted a regular season record of 47-19 and the Mavericks posted a regular season record of 36-30.  The Mavericks definitely have the star players to beat the Thunder but I just don’t think the Mavericks will win this playoff series.

The #3 seeded Los Angeles Lakers will vs. the #6 seeded Denver Nuggets in the first round of the NBA playoffs.  The star players for the Lakers are Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum.  The star players for the Nuggets are forward Al Harrington, and guards Ty Lawson and Andre Miller.  The Lakers finished with a regular season record of 41-25 and the Nuggets finished with a regular season record of 38-28.

Honestly, I think the Lakers will win this playoff series.  If the Lakers don’t, then Kobe Bryant will probably have been a ball-hog too much.  I really haven’t watched the Nuggets play much to seriously state any thoughts about them.

The #4 seeded Memphis Grizzlies will vs. the #5 seeded Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the NBA playoffs.  In the regular season, the Grizzles finished with a record of 41-25 and the Clippers finished with a record of 40-26.  The star players for the Grizzlies are Gilbert Arenas and Marc Gasol.  The star players for the Clippers are Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Chauncey Billups, and Kenyon Martin.  Both the Clippers and the Grizzlies haven’t had very much success in the playoffs and haven’t been playoff teams very often in the past.

I think the Grizzlies will win this series because they spoiled (and ended) the San Antonio Spurs’ season last year by eliminating them from the playoffs.  Realistically though, the Clippers have got more attention than normal from the media/the press/whatever this season, they are from L.A., and they have better star players (in my opinion) on their team so they will probably win this playoff series.  Plus, they competed with the Lakers the entire regular season to see which L.A. team (out of the two) would end up finishing with a better regular season record (and the Lakers ended up winning that).  

In Game 1 of the series the Clippers overcame a 27-point deficit to stun the Grizzlies 99-98.  That would be cool to see this series go to a seventh game. 

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