Enough talk about politics, and let's get down to business--this post is about hoops. Specifically, the NBA playoffs, and my fearless, I-lose-nothing-but-pride-if-I'm-wrong predictions for the first round.
In the east....
#1 Cleveland vs #8 Detroit.
If Rasheed shows up to play, the Pistons may win one at home; but no more than that. No way do they win in Cleveland. Cavs in 5.
#2 Boston vs #7 Chicago
This series might just be competitive with Kevin Garnett in the trainer's room, but I still don't see any way that Paul Pierce and Ray Allen go out in the first round. Celtics in 6.
#3 Orlando vs #6 Philadelphia
The NBA's best defense against a team which is lucky to be there (even though Philly managed to sweep my Blazers...) The Sixers do well against finesse teams and are good at guarding the perimeter, but have no answer for Dwight Howard. Magic in 6.
#4 Atlanta vs #5 Miami
Atlanta is by far the deeper team, but Dwyane Wade remains the best player on the floor, and a healthy Wade isn't going out in the first round. The Heat are now playing better than their record--they were a pretty bad team for much of the year, and like my Blazers, are now peaking as the rookies figure out the NBA. Heat in 6.
#1 LA Lakers vs #8 Utah.
Bug, meet windshield. Utah will probably win a game in Salt Lake, but they don't have the horses to keep up with the Lakers. Lakers in 5.
#2 Denver vs #7 New Orleans
Like the Atlanta/Miami series, the best player on the floor is on the lower seed. Unlike that series, though, Denver has the weapons to overpower him. Plus, it's the playoffs, which means Peja Stojakovic is going to go 2-13 some night. Nuggets in 7.
#3 San Antonio vs #6 Dallas
The Battle of Texas. Back when these two teams, along with Phoenix, ruled the WC--Dallas owned San Antonio, SA owned Phoenix, and Phoenix owned Dallas. But both teams are now old, and not aging particularly gracefully. Duncan will win one more playoff series, and Dirk will add more more postseason failure to his resume. Spurs in 7.
#4 Portland vs #5 Houston.
The Battle Royale. The league's best offense vs the conference's best defense. Defense usually wins titles, but I'm going with the Blazers--barely--because 1) They've got homecourt, 2) They've got the best player in Roy, 3) Ron Artest can usually be counted on to do something stupid, and 4) I'm a shameless homer. Blazers in 7.