Welcome the the NBA Playoffs Round 2! Since the NBA had a quick turnaround, so do we, unfortunately. With all the game 7s this is one topsy-turvy playoff season! Lets see who we have getting through this round.
Previous round Picks
(EJ picked Nets5, DJ Nets5, David Rap6)
(EJ Mia4, DJ Mia5, David Mia5)
I want to say again, that ESPN NBA Experts picked the Bulls, 16 of 17 panelists. 2 of 3 picked the Wiz here. Just saying.
The Case for the Brooklyn Nets:
EJ: The Nets come into the series knowing that they have beaten the Heat all 4 times they played this season. That confidence, and the fact that they are led by Pierce and Garnett (who had success with the Celtics against the Heat) give them the confidence that they can do the same this season.
DJ: Paul Pierce may not be the same player who posted 18-20ppg during his time with the Celtics, but he can still score and play some defense….and also provide some leadership. Kevin Garnett is a shadow of the player he was in Minnesota, but he had a strong game seven against the Raptors when he scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in just 25 minutes. And for playing just 20mpg, he put up 8.4ppg and 5.4rpg as head coach Jason Kidd manages the dinosaur’s minutes.
Joe Johnson may be a vastly overpaid player, but he earned some of his salary in the 1st round against the Raptors. JJ averaged 21.9ppg and was clutch against Toronto, particularly game seven when he scored 26 points, had 4 four assists, and 4 rebounds. Deron Williams also played well (16.9ppg and 5.6apg) after struggling in the regular season for most of the 2013-2014 campaign (14.3ppg and 6.1apg).
David: Experience, obviously. The former Celtics have multiple Finals trips, and so does Coach Kidd, but as a player. The Nets also know the Heat, since that has been the target since the team was assembled. Their biggest advantage is Kevin Garnett, since when he’s on, only LeBron can handle him- and that’s going to force Wade to cover Deron Williams. That’s not good for the Heat. The issue is, Kevin Garnett is old. I mean I still love watching him battle Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on NBA Classic, but to hope he can do it for another long series on such a short turnaround is just a Herculean task.
The Case for the Miami Heat:
EJ: The Heat are the defending two time champions, and thanks to sweeping the Bobcats they are rested. Rest beats rust most of the time.
DJ: The Heat have rested and were able to watch the Nets grind it out against the Raps. James is still a great player and probably the best player in the NBA, just not this season’s Most Valuable Player. Chris Bosh is still an under-rated player and a lot depends on Dwayne Wade, if he’s not 100% Miami could be in trouble. They need all of their Big three clicking on all cylinders.
This Heat team is a bit thin, and the main cogs have played a TON of games, so every little bit helps, and the Heat have been off so long, the franchise they beat in round one is no longer around.
LeBron is still the Swiss Army Knife of the NBA, and able to shut down both point guards and centers with the same skill. The issue becomes hiding Chalmers and other bit players. You don’t want to see LeBron on the bench and Rashard Lewis on the floor with PP and KG at anytime.
So who do you got?
EJ: I have the Heat in 5 games. The Nets got too much taken out of them against the Raptors and I expect that they will make quick work of Brooklyn.
DJ: This will be a great series and Brooklyn is a serious threat to Miami. The Heat better not take them for granted because this could be be grind-it-out-series. Brooklyn went out and traded for PP and KG just for this reason. To challenge Miami.
Having said all that, I like the Heat in 7. They have a better overall team and James is still going to be a load for anybody on the Nets to defend. PP isn’t up to the task and if they stick KG on him, I think James goes off.
David: I’m taking the Heat in 6. I’m going to take the Heat in any matchup in the East. Just saying. I don’t think a RESTED Heat team can lose game 1 against any team short of the Dream Team, and an Old team on a short rest is just going to put them in a deep hole to climb out of.
Portland Trail Blazers
San Antonio Spurs
(EJ San5, DJ San6, David San5)
(EJ Hou6, DJ Hou5, David Hou5)
The Case for the Portland Trail Blazers:
EJ: I love the Portland Trail Blazers. Yes I picked Houston in the last series, and I have no idea why I did that when I have been on the Blazers bandwagon all season. Lillard is playing like he’ll become a perennial All-Star, and Aldridge has been in beast mode. If the Trail Blazers can get contributions from the supporting cast, then the Spurs need to look out.
DJ: LaMarcus Aldridge and Damon Lilliard are a great young 1-2 punch and they must each play well and score close to 25-28ppg for them to have a shot. The Blazers have some nice role players in Nicholas Batum, Wesley Matthews and Robin Lopez but their dynamic duo stir the drink, if you will. Portland has Mo Williams on the bench and that’s basically it.
David: The way the Blazers can win is fairly simple. Run in the beginning, and make sure that the Rose Garden pays off for them. The Spurs don’t have the rest the Heat does, but they don’t have the ton of minutes on them that they normally do on round 2. The best way to win is to Abuse Thiago when Duncan sits, and make sure he cannot get comfy.
The Case for the San Antonio Spurs:
EJ: The Spurs are the model of consistency. They’ve been here before and they know what they have to do.
DJ: The Spurs are a deeper overall team and that’s the biggest advantage they have. Tim Duncan is playing great for an old man, but he will be neutralized in this series. Aldridge and Lopez (both will defend him) will make him work for his points and he may show his age. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have to step up big, as does the SA bench.
David: The Spurs have been here before. Heck the Spurs have been everywhere before. The Spurs have had a long time to watch the Blazers, and lets face it. Pops doesn’t spend the season looking for good games on NBA TV, he’s scouting future opponents. I bet he’s got binders on the Blazers when they played their best early in the season, and the Blazers have only gotton worse since then.
So who do you got?
EJ: I got the Trailblazers in 7 games. Yeah, they are inexperienced but they have no fear. Duncan has been excellent this season but he can’t stop Aldridge from getting his, and I expect Lillard to have more good games than bad games. As long as Batum, Matthews, and a few others can step up then they can shock the NBA and defeat the Spurs.
David:Portland has almost the younger version of Duncan and Parker, but Aldridge isn’t as sound defensively, and Lillard is more willing to take a bad shot. I don’t see Duncan throwing up back to back 40s but I can see Duncan allowing anyone to do so either. You never know when Manu is going to become a puddle of goo on the floor, so I hate to trust him. I’m taking the Spurs in 6, due to coaching and they might actually be deeper
DJ: The Spurs are just too deep and the Blazers were tested by a Houston team that just isn’t on SA’s level. The Spurs will win in 5 games.
Tiny URL for this post: