PLAYOFFS, BABY!
I love the NBA playoffs. Most of the NBA season is the grind of a bloated, celebrity-and-Sportscenter-driven league, but when you get to the Second Season, every game matters and, consequently, the players act like the game is something more than an endorsement showcase. So I and the other 17 NBA fans in the country will enjoy the next two months immensely. Herewith, my picks:

First Round
East
-Detroit over Philly. A walk. Iverson can’t do it all by himself, Webber is a shadow of his true self, and Detroit has muscle to burn.

-Boston over Indiana. A six- or seven-gamer; Reggie can’t carry the Pacers by himself every night.

-Washington over Chicago. This is a dubious one; Chicago would cruise if it had a healthy squad. But if the Wizards’ big three can find their stroke, it won’t matter what the Baby Bulls do.

-Miami over New Jersey. Easy. Only thing that would make this series better is if Shaq stepped on Vince Carter’s head. I still think the Raptors’ season-ticket holders should file a class-action suit against him for admitting he dogged it in Toronto.

West
-Houston over Dallas. I’m cheating here because Houston is already up 2-0, but between Yao inside and McGrady outside, the Rockets might just overmatch the Dallas Cubanos.

-Phoenix over Memphis. Ain’t no stopping Phoenix this early, though I love that Memphis is quickly becoming an elite team. There’s hope for the Hawks yet.

-San Antonio over Denver. The Nugs are a nice story, but the Spurs’ll thump ’em, probably in five.

-Seattle over Sacto. The Kings ain’t got nothin’ left. If Denver had reached this spot, I’d’ve picked them over the slumping Soniques, tho.

Second Round
-Detroit over Boston. A classic ’80s matchup, but the Celts have no Bird anymore, and nobody that can out-thump the Stones.

-Miami over Washington. Wade. Shaq. D.C. Gone.

-Phoenix over Houston. The Suns can run anybody, even the Rockets, out of the gym. This’ll be a great series, but it’ll be owned by the Suns.

-San Antonio over Seattle. The easiest of the second-round wins. I’m still not convinced Seattle’s got what it takes to hang here.

Conference Finals
-Detroit over Miami. The Pistons locked down Shaq in LA last year, and they’ll do it in SoBe this year.

-Phoenix over San Antonio. I bet on San Antonio in this year’s Busbee Championship Series (I’ll explain that another time), so I badly want the Spurs to win. But Phoenix is having a magical season.

Finals
-Phoenix over Detroit. Pray the Spurs don’t win; San Antonio-Detroit could be the most boring Finals imaginable. The Pistons can throw anybody around the court–as long as they catch ’em. Phoenix is just too damn fast. Suns in six.

Jay

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