As it turns out, the lakers didn't beat the suns. In fact, Phoenix kicked the crap out of them in a game 7 that was never really close. So, with that, I can now smile knowing that all of my first round picks were correct. Some of the underdogs took a couple more games than I thought they would, but so far I'm batting 1.000
The next thing is picking the 2nd round. I'm gonna stick my neck out on a couple of these, and my rather obvious biases will start to become a little totally blatant. There are two teams currently in the playoffs that I just don't like and will root against at all costs (even if it clouds my judgement and makes me pick against them... which it inevitably will).
Here we go:
#1 Detroit vs. #4 Cleveland
Game one was a thumping, but they won't all be blowouts. Lebron is too good to allow his team to be destroyed every game, but Larry Hughes has to play better, Z has to play well consistently, and the Cavs have got to use their rebounding prowess to get extra shots, because it isn't going to be pretty otherwise. It also wouldn't hurt for the Cavs to play some defense. Their perimeter D was humiliated in Game 1, and the sight of their guards going underneath every screen instead of fighting over them illustrates just how lazy the Cavs can be on defense. People think defense when they think Detroit, but they can really score, and Cleveland cannot give them as many open perimeter looks in game 2. Regardless, Detroit will take this one in 5.
#2 Miami vs. #3 New Jersey
This is one of my biased picks, but I actually think that I might be right on this one. It all depends on which Shaq shows up in the series. If we get the Shaq from Game 6 of the last series who dropped 30 points and 20 ballboards on the Bulls, Miami could do this in 6, but I'm hoping the Nets are smart and drive past Miami's flat-footed perimeter D into the paint and get Shaq in foul trouble. Look for Krstic to pull Shaq away from the basket with his ability to hit the jumper, which will force Shaq to move in and out of the paint (which he doesn't like to do at all) so that he can get a hand in Nenad's face, but also protect the paint when Carter and Jefferson slash. If Dwyane Wade's hip is hurt, the Heat are in real trouble, but the Nets need Kidd's shot to bounce back a bit otherwise the Heat won't even need to guard him. I think it'll go the distance, but I'm pulling for the Nets in 7, even though I think Miami is probably the better game 7 team. Fuck it, I told you I was biased.
#1 San Antonio vs. #4 Dallas
This is going to be a great series, judging by game one, which made me want to throw a brick through my TV (similar to the brick that Stackhouse put up as time expired). I'm biased here too, but I actually like Dallas to win this series for other reasons. Their depth is more impressive to me than San Antonio's, whose procession of AARP members has to crap out sometime. Game one was tight and low scoring, but Dallas ran when they could, and should do so all series long. Dampier and Diop have to try and do a better job on Duncan, but I was a little surprised they went with as much single coverage as they did in Game 1. The big thing is for Terry and Howard to provide some punch in case Nowitzki can't shoulder the load with Bowen all over him. If Van Horn can come back in this series, that'll really help too. Anyway, this one is going the distance. Mavs in seven.
#2 Phoenix vs. #6 LA
This is going to be fun to watch. Two savvy old point guards going head to head, Kaman and Brand punishing Phoenix inside, and the Suns chucking threes and trying to run, while the Clips try to play smart and go through the post. The key here is the Clips are going to take the same sort of approach that the Lakers took in round one, only they are a much better defensive team than the Lakers, and their post players are actually good. As long as LA keeps the tempo down and Radmanovic, Maggette and Livingston play well off the bench, the Clips can win this one in 6.