By Miles Yim
The Celtics will cruise through the NBA’s designated B League not because of their storied history or because everyone wants a Los Angeles-Boston final, no sir. Boston will win because of logic any grade-schooler playing 5 v. 5 on the blacktop can reason out: If you put the best players around the playground on the same team, that team will win. Simple, and never truer than when Kevin Garnett joined Ray Allen and Paul Pierce in a deal seconded only in one-sidedness to Memphis’ Pau Gasol “giveaway.” When the Big Three are healthy, Boston has been unstoppable, and, with the Promised Land so close, it would be hard to fathom a team so loaded losing a seven-game series. I almost feel sorry for the Atlanta Hawks, who, regardless of how they play, will get swept in four.
Even though it’s nice to talk about the other Eastern series, absolutely none of those teams are getting by the Celtics. Detroit? They dropped Game One at home to Philadelphia, a team that doesn’t make the Playoffs in the West. I do see the Pistons winning that series in six, however, but even money’s on the 76ers giving Detroit all they can handle, taking at least another game in Philly. Facing off in the semifinals against Detroit will be the Orlando Magic, who will down my boy Jason Kapono and the Raptors in five. Sorry, Toronto, get somebody besides Jay Kap and Bosh, then maybe you can actually compete in the postseason. Feeding the Celtics’ insatiable hunger for a championship will be the Cavs, as Cleveland will ride King James’ coattails to a sweep of the Washington Wizards in what is becoming an increasingly bitter series. Boston will dominate Bron-Bron and his merry men in five games, moving on to the Eastern Conference final for a date with the Pistons, whose postseason experience and overall team chemistry will prevail over Orlando in six. Boston will take care of business at home and take the Eastern crown in six.
By Kevin Klein
OK, Golden State fans, we know. Enough already. … We all know that the West is the better conference one through eight, but the East has its legitimate contenders, too. Make that two legitimate contenders, with a couple of teams hoping to get lucky.
Minnesota’s general manager, Kevin McHale, should get his jersey retired a second time for the trade that he masterminded in sending Kevin Garnett to Boston. McHale already won three championships with Boston in the ’80s, so he might as well get a ring this year when the Celtics plow through these first rounds in the East. Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce – the Big Three, the Three Amigos, Lethal Weapon Three, the Boston Three Party or whatever you want to call them – they make up the best team in the Eastern Conference and will be meeting the best in the West in the Championships.
Screw going out on a limb and picking Dwight Howard’s Magic or LeBron’s Cavaliers, the two teams in the finals will be the Celtics and the Pistons – assuming that Rasheed Wallace is still with the team following the week of 4/20. … Detroit’s first-game hiccup against the ‘6ers, should be completely disregarded. There is no way Detroit will lose a seven-game series to Philadelphia, although they did split the season series with two games apiece.
Both Detroit and Boston will cruise into the conference championships, where my long-lost brother from another mother, KG, will take over. The Cs took the season series two games to one, and I have them winning in six. As for the rest of the East, if you play in a division where you can make the playoffs with a sub .500 record, you might as well be happy you get swept in the first round; at least you got there.
By Chris Hoffman
As good as the playoffs in the West are going to be, the opposite can be said for the East. It’s pretty sad that the first round will likely be infinitely more entertaining than the second out on the right coast, where the upstart 76ers and Hawks bring some much needed new blood to the table. Seeing the new A.I. and insanely talented Atlanta show off their skills on national television is about the best thing the East’s playoffs have going for it. Yet, after these two underdogs are dispatched in the early going, the Eastern Conference playoffs just get boring.
The Cavs are the most un-watchable team in the league. Sitting around hoping LeBron throws down a triple double so Cleveland will actually be in the game against a good team just isn’t basketball. It’s even worse than Kobe playing all by himself for the past three years, except that Lamar Odom is at least intriguing to watch. The Cavs’ lack of depth is going to haunt them in round two, when KG and Co. will throttle their way to the conference finals. However, I will give Cleveland one game – just one – since LeBron can will his way to victory at least once.
Finally, a changing of the guard will take place with Dwight Howard stepping into the ranks of superstardom by leading the Magic over the uninspired Pistons. Howard cannot be stopped without opponents incurring mammoth foul trouble, and the Pistons’ bigs aren’t deep enough to handle the Beast. If only Chris Webber’s knees didn’t blow out. This is the end of an era in Detroit and the beginning of great things in Florida.
The East finals are still a year away from being truly competitive. Orlando can give Boston a run for its money, especially on the road. The Magic’s youthfulness will prevent them from raining on Boston’s Tea Party, but the upstart squad will earn the experience needed to dethrone the Celtics next year. Favorite Boston squeaks by, thanks to home court advantage, downing Orlando in seven.
By Alex Pavlovic
Despite a general sense of malaise surrounding the Eastern Conference Playoffs, I’ve got to admit, I’m actually enjoying this side more than the West up to this point. I know … I’m crazy. Crazy like a fox! Here’s the thing: As good as some of the Western Conference games have been, and as good as the entirety of the Western Conference Playoffs will end up being, nothing has titillated me more up to this point than the Cavs-Wizards throwdown that’s taking place three hours ahead of us. I mean, I’m talking like perky sorority chick titillation, National Geographic titillation, Jennifer Tilly titillation. You get the point: I like the word titillation and this is one hell of a series.
The future governor of Alabama was right when he called the Wizards out for calling out King James. If the NBA season has taught us anything, it’s that you don’t piss into the wind and you don’t underestimate LeBron, who’s bigger, stronger, faster and more talented than anyone in an ugly gold Washington uniform. Look for the Cavs to send Stevenson back to the barber and Gilbert Arenas back to his amazing blog, while the Celtics and Pistons cruise past their respective lightweight opponents. There’s another series going on and, frankly, it’s so boring that I almost forgot who’s playing in it, but I’m going to choose the team with a guy named Dwight, mostly because I own a Schrute’s Beet Farm shirt.
The Pistons should stop their super-hetero pre-game dance long enough to beat the Magic, setting up a matchup with … the Celtics. As much as I want to take King James, his supporting cast would struggle to dominate A-League co-ed basketball. He can’t do it by himself, but the Celtics would be smart to wrap this one up before a game seven just in case. I know it’s boring, but KG won’t allow the Beantown boys to lose, sending the Celts to the finals and David Stern, Bill Simmons and Red Sox Nation into a disgustingly orgasmic state. Shoot me now.