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
-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.

-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.

-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.


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