OK, so I’m glad I never got round to doing those Western conference predictions that I mentioned! Because it would have just given me another chance to get everything wrong, and judging by the results so far I’d have grabbed that opportunity with both hands.
The Magic got swept in the East, I’m not really surprised by that one. Nice as it would have been for Dwight Howard to prove his star calibre by slapping the Pistons about and winning a couple of games the series was really a foregone conclusion.
More surprising is the Heat’s first round exit. Defending champions and with the benefit of me predicting a series win, what did they do? Got swept. Oh dear. D-Wade and Shaq are the core of that team, and since neither of them really got it going for the duration of the series it’s more understandable to see the reigning champions heading off for a long summer. Massive respect to the young Bulls team though, especially Ben Gordon and Luol Deng. A tough second round matchup with the Pistons awaits, and without wishing to put a hex on their chances I will be rooting for the Bulls.
Moving onto the West, I know for a fact that I wouldn’t have been predicting some of the things that have been happening. As a matter of fact, I’d be surprised if anyone predicted the most surprising thing:
The Golden State Warriors.
This team hasn’t made the playoffs in thirteen years, the longest stretch of any team in recent years. They made the playoffs this year by the skin of their teeth, securing the 8th seed on the final day of the regular season. This earned them a first round series against the Dallas Mavs, the top seed in the west with a regular season record of 67-15. For any team but the Warriors this probably would have seemed like a disaster. But the Warriors were the only team in the league to sweep the season series with Dallas, they’re also the only team whose head coach is Don Nelson, one of the most successful coaches in NBA history and mentor of the Mavs’ current coach Avery Johnson. Four games into the series and last year’s finalists find themselves in a 3-1 hole (teams down 3-1 after four games have only come back to win the series 4% of the time in NBA history) and looking at a likely early exit from this year’s post-season party.
All of which should be making Mike D’Antoni and the Phoenix Suns feel all warm and fuzzy inside. The offensive juggernaut driven by two-time MVP Steve Nash has also rolled to a 3-1 series lead over Kobe and the Lakers. Following the form of the regular season, the only game the Lakers have won was a result of KB-24’s high scoring heroics. Forty-five points from one player is pretty special. Regardless, the Suns continue to play like a team running on pure adrenaline, pushing the break at every opportunity and tiring the other team into submission.
The Spurs are currently 2-1 up on the Nuggets, but Carmelo and A.I. caught the perennial West contenders napping in game one, combining for over fifty points and an away win. Sadly, if predictably, the Spurs took the next game at AT&T center, and then won the next away game for good measure. Game four is tonight, and is probably the Nuggets last chance to swing the momentum back in their favour.
The final series in the West is Rockets vs. Jazz. Currently tied at 2-2 there’s everything to play for. This might be the most evenly matched series being played at the moment, both teams feature a strong line up capable of winning plenty of games. No doubt T-Mac will be hoping to lift his playoff curse too (he’s never made it past the first round).
I’m not going to make any predictions on the final outcome of any of the above!
Finals Weekend has more or less fallen into place, and with thanks to Danny James, will again take place at WISE, Filton. The order of events will be as follows:
Saturday 5 May
- 4.00pm Women’s Trophy Final teams will be known after this coming Sunday
- 6.00pm Men’s Trophy Final Totterdown v Wizards A
Sunday 6 May
- 3.00pm Men’s Plate Final Pirates v Phantoms
- 5.00pm Women’s Cup Final Storm v UWE
- 7.00pm Presentations of League trophies and MVPs
- 7.30pm Men’s Cup Final KBI v Filton 1
Throughout the weekend, the bar will be open (and it’s a pretty good one) and you should be able to get snacks and such-like there as well. This will be a great opportunity to catch up with players etc from othet teams, to do some networking and to see what should hopefully be some good, tight games - last year’s Men’s Cup Final, fo instance, was in some doubt until almost the very end. This is when we will get a trophy for winning Division III, so it would be good if as many people as possible could go wearing Nailsea tshirts in a show of force!
Following the excitement of the WEBBA Division 3 Playoffs, what could possibly hope to top Nailsea’s glorious achievement of winning the league and the playoffs in the team’s inaugural year?
Well, there’s the NBA Playoffs starting this weekend, they’re pretty exciting. So I thought I’d give you a little run down of what’s going on. I’ll do the East today, and the West tomorrow (mainly because i’ve just spent about an hour writing the following, and I want to leave work now!).
So, here are the matchups in the first round, and a little about what I think (hope) will happen:
Eastern Conference: 1st Seed Detroit Pistons vs. 8th Seed Orlando Magic – The 2004 Champion and playoff-tested Pistons, still with much the same team minus Ben Wallace, match up with the young, inexperienced Magic. The Magic are my team, I love some of their players, and I would dearly love to see them play past the first round. Alas, I suspect that the boys from Motown will dispense with the upstarts on this occasion. Orlando has the matchup advantage at centre, but Detroit owns the advantage in all four other positions. I don’t think the Magic will get swept (although they did through the regular season), but I do think they’ll be leaving the playoff party pretty early on. My prediction is Detroit in six games, including one Orlando win where Dwight has a career night, and another where Grant Hill scores a game winning buzzer beater…
2nd Seed Cleveland Cavs vs. 7th Seed Washington Wizards – The LeBron James show starts a new playoff season with what could be a cakewalk in the Wizards. Unlucky Washington has been decimated by injuries in the last few weeks, losing both it’s all-star players for the duration of the playoffs. Short of Antawn Jamison becoming Wilt Chamberlain overnight this series should be mercifully short; Cavs in five.
3rd Seed Toronto Raptors vs. 6th Seed New Jersey Nets – Toronto is the first team in NBA history to go from having the top pick in the draft one year, to winning it’s division title the next. They’re rolling, all their key players are healthy, Chris Bosh is a monster and to top it off they have home court advantage. The Nets aren’t likely to lie down easily though, their “Big Three” have been playing well over the last month, and Vince Carter is likely to be spurred on by the hostile Toronto fans, who have booed him ever since he demanded a trade from the Raptors four years ago. This one will go the distance, and owing to the Nets greater experience I predict New Jersey in seven.
4th Seed Miami Heat vs. 5th Seed Chicago Bulls – Another tough series, last year’s champions the Heat have a collection of quality veterans, emerging young role players, and superstars Shaq and Dwyane Wade. Wade is still recovering from a dislocated shoulder that forced him to miss 23 games near the end of the regular season though, and isn’t his usual explosive, game-changing self just yet. Nevertheless this is a team that can win games, and won’t be backing down from anyone. Chicago’s post-Jordan renaissance continues, they are a young team with a veteran leader in center Ben Wallace (who has a habit of frustrating Shaq…) and a real defensive mindset instilled in them by coach Scott Skiles. My money (if I had any) would be on the Heat, but you can’t count the Bulls out of this one. Miami in seven.
There you have it, NBA predictions from someone with absolutely no formal background in the game, more tomorrow as we delve into the Western Conference.