2012 Second Round Preview

So the real season enters the second round and things look clearer now for some teams. My first round predictions were thrown askew by some seriously freaky injuries (I missed 3 out of 8 predictions), but let’s put that behind us and look forward.

HEAT-PACERS

With the loss of Chris Bosh, it’s legacy-making time for Lebron James. Now more than ever, he needs to raise his level and be a complete utility man to get past the Pacers. I admit to underestimating the strength of the Pacers’ size, athleticism and unity and now believe they are serious foes to Miami. David West is one of the most underrated players and George Hill graduated from the school of Popovich, and, with Roy Hibbert having no competition, Lebron and Wade may see an early vacation.

The Heat’s lack of shot-makers outside Lebron and Wade and their inconsistent jump shooting and free throw shooting may put them in a dangerous spot. Relying too much on Lebron doing all things may burn him out as well. It’s too bad that neither Lebron nor Wade are great shooters and without Bosh, a lack of a good shooter as a third option is a terrible weakness. But then again, the Pacers have their own struggles with Danny Granger. Being an athletic and defensive series, I expect these problems to continue for both teams unless Lebron gets into one of his zones.

And that is the reason why I believe the Heat will ultimately prevail. Lebron is going to go all out and as the game’s best and most complete player, he is at an advantage in terms of taking over a game. For all the talk about him not taking the last shot, he’s not Jordan and that is not his style unless it is absolutely necessary as it was in Cleveland. As long as he does everything else to win, that’s what matters. The Heat have enough pieces and complementary players to help Lebron and with last year’s loss in the finals, they are probably hungrier as well. Hunger and experience normally win out in the end. This series may go down to the wire but the Heat should take it in a tough 6 games or eke it out in 7.

CELTICS-SIXERS

Let’s be honest – the Sixers shouldn’t even be here. They were able to beat the Bulls since the Bulls lost their two best players with injuries so the Sixers are the weakest team that is still alive. Meanwhile, the Celtics appear to have flipped a switch into veteran playoff mode and their team chemistry is clicking on all cylinders. Kevin Garnett appears to have turned back the clock and Paul Pierce, assuming his knee holds up, is a threat always ready to take the game over.

The Sixers have good players in general but not one particular player that can dominate. It’s possible that they can push the series to 6 games with passion and effort but the Celtics are just too experienced and have more talent – even though they may be aged. Due to Garnett’s resurgence and Ray Allen appearing healthy again, it would be a shock if the Celtics can’t close this out in 6.

LAKERS-THUNDER

As Pau Gasol goes, the Lakers go. Gasol, for whatever reason, appears to be in decline. It seems the main culprits are age, lack of touches, and Andrew Bynum’s emergence as the best center. As we all know, Kobe couldn’t do anything until Gasol arrived and it was due to his superior play in their two seasons as champions that LA was able to win. That Pau Gasol outplayed Kobe in the finals in their two title years statistically (even though the finals MVP went to Kobe both times).

Unfortunately for the Lakers, that version of Gasol is gone. And even with Bynum’s status as the best center, the Lakers suffer from serious chemistry issues, age, and lack of athleticism. You can place some blame on coach Mike Brown for allowing too many shots for Kobe during the season where it appeared the team was frustrated and suffered defensive lapses, but, even if that did not happen, the lack of intensity and explosiveness on the Lakers are killers. Even worse is that they are facing the Thunder who are maxed out on both facets. And Kobe, playing the role of Iverson as an aging, low-precision volume shooter, can’t do much without his big men playing at their peak.

The Thunder have too many scoring weapons, too many players who can score 40 points and too much athleticism and desire. James Harden, in my opinion, is one of the top 15 players in the game. He sees the game like Larry Bird and has cat-like reflexes like Jordan. He has a gift in being able to read each play and react appropriately. Combined with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka, whom are all several notches above the Lakers big three in synergy and athleticism, the Lakers should be happy if the Thunder hand them a gentlemen’s sweep in 5 games.

SPURS-CLIPPERS

Tim Duncan, the game’s greatest active player (he is ranked #8 on my all-time list), is young again and the Spurs are unstoppable. Counting out a 4-time champ and 3-time finals MVP is never a wise move. The Spurs are rejuvenated with a greatly balanced team on all levels – especially with both veterans and young’uns coexisting peacefully. They have the best active coach in Popovich as well. Seemingly healthy and on a mission to redeem themselves from last year’s early bounce, they simply appear to be a championship team.

Meanwhile, the hobbled and inexperienced Clippers are getting by on the briliance of Chris Paul. With Blake Griffin’s knee issue, this is simply not enough. The Clippers need more versatility in scoring and Deandre Jordan needs to step it up for them to get to the next level. But considering their history, they’ve had a successful season. Too bad that against the mighty Spurs, this season will come to an end sooner than later. A Spurs 4 game sweep should be in the making.

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2 Responses to “2012 Second Round Preview”

  1. I agree with u!! All predictions!!!! As far as the playoff goes, u seem to be damn right! Btw, Tim Duncan………………………….. Absolutely top 10………. If he gets his 5th…… He’s gonna pull away from Shaquille/Kobe…..

  2. Please mention Tony Parker…………. Offensively, he’s special. Hs ability to score in the paint is just marvelous….. The trio combo of GDP is the best in a decade…. and can be remembered for ages…. Just as the Chicago 3…..

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