Thursday, February 21, 2008

NBA experts bother me like...

...underwear fresh out of the dryer that feels nice & warm at first until you realize they're not completely dry.

...people who get pissed off at other drivers and start honking their horn, when they're trying to drive while talking on the phone, drinking coffee, smoking & putting on make-up.

...those times when you're a customer at a retail store, starbucks, the bank, wherever and an employee holds up their finger and asks you to wait while they finish up a personal side conversation with a co-worker or their cell phone conversation with their boy/girlfriend.

If you didn't have a reaction to any of those three situations, then bless your heart you're living the good life and I'm completely jealous. On the other hand, if you read those and threw your arms in the air in disgust (bc you can totally relate) or if you simply have experienced those situations...then you understand my pain...err..."pain."

I was just reading this article about the NBA's Western Conference and am currently at the point to where I don't want to hear anymore speculation or predictions. ever. again. seriously. There have been several trades involving marquee players, and apparently this gives NBA "experts" the authority to start spewing verbal vomit on why this time will win or that team won't win. Of the three marquee players, two of them have only played a single game (and from the tone of the article it was written before they each played their first game last night) and the other has only played eight games for his new team (tho the team is 7-1 since his arrival)...even so, there has only been a limited number of games played by these new additions so I think everyone needs to just sit down and shut up.

Now I don't want to mislead you. I love basketball. I enjoy watching the NBA, and this postseason could very well be the most entertaining professional basketball of the past 25 years (my lifetime :D). I don't love basketball as much as the Cubs & MLB, but I still enjoy it a great deal & follow it (it being the general ebb & flow of the NBA season, including trades, MVP candidates, team & individual stats, etc.) pretty much every year. I'm even ok with making preseason predictions, and commentators giving their opinion when asked who will win it all, or come of the West/East (bc generally its their opinion & stated as such). What I can't stand is when this ESPN analysts write up 30-50 words on why this team or that team will win it all, but do so in a manner that is less their opinion and more of an absolute certainty.

I won't have any of that. As an educated fan on the NBA, don't lay your "absolute truths" on me like I don't have a clue...or expect me to accept it as such. False. Not gonna happen. No way. Never. Nunca jamas. Yes I speak some Spanish. I do think the West is loaded with championship caliber teams. I do think the 8th seed in the West (whoever that ends up being) is probably the 3rd best team in the East. I do think a team from the West will be (this is for you Polar Bear) World Champions this year. I do think home court advantage is a huge edge in any playoff round, but especially the deeper your postseason run goes. I do think Pau Gasol's trade to the Lakers was the best of the big trades bc they got so much for so little. I do think Paul Allen is a royal jack*** and should front the dough for a new arena & not make the people pay for it (oh wait...that's a completely different tangent for another time). I do think the Warriors will probably be that 9th team in the West who, despite playing better than .600 ball, will miss the playoffs. I do think Shaq has more left in the tank than most people seem to believe. I do think the Hawks will squeek in as the 8th seed in the East...and will then be first round fodder for the Celtics. I do think that a healthy Lakers team will be hard to beat in the playoffs. I do think that while the West as a whole is far superior to the East, the Eastern conference champ will not be overmatched in the Finals...and will actually have a pretty decent chance to win it all.

See how I did that withouth telling you what to think or putting on my Karnak hat and predicting that which I cannot see? Its pretty easy...and not obnoxious...or at least not obnoxious in that I don't tell you what to think bc I'm an "expert." I realize its professional sports, which is full or arrogance, so much so that appears to be overflowing into the sports media. NFL "experts" from ESPN did about average this year, most of them hovering around the same percentage as you'd get from always picking the home team. And all but two picked worse than following this simple formula (submitted by readers): Better record wins unless records are equal, then home team wins. I mean hell...if you would've always picked the Pats to win and the Dolphins to lose, you would've won 96.67% of the time (16 wins for the Pats, 15 losses for the Fins = 31/32 games....but they play each other twice so you can't win double (for a Pats win & a Fins loss) 29/30). And after about three weeks those two picks were pretty obvious. So yes I'm talking NFL now....but it helps me make my point: "experts" don't know everything so they need to shut up. Who picked the Giants to win the Super Bowl before the season? Halfway through the season? At the start of the playoffs? Once they'd made it to the Super Bowl? Further illustration that "experts" don't know jack. about more of what I think?...or rather what I don't think will happen in the NBA the rest of this year? Yea? Jeah? Yes.

I don't think the Suns will win an NBA title this year. Sorry Shaq. I also don't think they're worse off with Shaq than they were with Marion. Why is everyone underestimating Shaq's intabgibles? having four championships (and the experience that comes with winning each of those), his veteran presence in the locker room, what his mentoring will mean for Amare, and what his presence on the court will do for Amare & any of the guards lined up behind the 3-point line. I don't think people are giving Steve Kerr & the Suns enough credit for making this trade...its a gamble (especially after the Lakers got Gasol for next to nothing therefore risking nothing) but they weren't winning titles with the status quo so they made a change. I don't think its fair to judge Shaq, the Suns, or their chances of winning a title this year after (or in that article's case...before) Shaq plays his first game with the Suns. I don't think the Spurs, Nuggets, Rockets, or Hornets will win it all this year. I don't think anyone other than the Celtics or Pistons have a chance to win it all coming from the East. I don't even think the Pistions have a realistic shot either. I don't. In a seven game series I don't think they can stop KG/Ray Ray/Paul Pierce from winning four games, especially if the Pistons don't have home court advantage. I don't think they will. I don't think Kobe should have surgery on his pinky....too many things are left up in the air which could mean they miss the playoffs or get a low seed. I don't think the Hornets can keep it up (and stay the #1 seed in the West). I don't think the Mavs can beat the Lakers in the playoffs. I don't think the Mavs can stop the Jazz in the playoffs. I don't think the Jazz have that one player who's going to take over in a game 7 or series-clinching game and get them to the next round/an NBA title. Therefore (if healthy...and that's a big IF) the Lakers are healthy, I don't think anyone can stop them, or Kobe, from winning it all this year. I don't think we've seen Dwight Howard reach his full potential either (wow...that's a scary thought).

So there's what I think and don't think will happen for the remainder of the year in the NBA. Here's my predictions on the seeding & winners in the playoffs, as well as some of the postseason accolade winners.

West: Lakers, Jazz & Mavs win their respective divisions.

(1) Lakers over (8) Nuggets
(2) Jazz over (7) Rockets
(3) Mavs over (6) Hornets
(4) Suns over (5) Spurs

(1) Lakers over (4) Suns
(2) Jazz over (3) Mavs

(1) Lakers over (2) Jazz

East: Celtics, Pistions & Magic win their respective divisions.

(1) Celtics over (8) Hawks
(2) Pistons over (7) Wizards
(3) Magic over (6) Nets
(4) Raptors over (5) Cavs

(1) Celtics over (4) Raptors
(2) Pistons over (3) Magic

(1) Celtics over (2) Pistons

(1) Lakers over (1) Celtics

Now rarely do the top seeded teams always win, or make it to the Finals together. I doubt the Lakers will even be the top seed but they way they're playing right now, compared to the rest of the West...its hard to pick against them. And when Bynum gets back....damn. My only real upset is the Raptors squeeking out the 4 seed in the East. I think Bosh is finally playing with uber loads of confidence and has some decent players around him. Plus its the East so 8 games over .500 should probably get you home court advantage. If I'm even close to right...that would be amazing....but I'd settle for being half right and getting to see some amazing matchups and even better play. Only time will tell...

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