Friday, April 29, 2005

Friday's Playoff Picks/Analysis

April 29, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Anthony's Picks:

Last Night: (1-1-1), Playoffs: (7-11-1)
  • Detroit -3.5 over PHILADELPHIA
  • MEMPHIS +2 over Phoenix
  • SACRAMENO -5.5 over Seattle

Thanks for putting these up for me, Paul. What a wonderful friend you are!

Paul's Picks:

Last Night: (0-2-1), Playoffs: (7-11-1)

  • Detroit -3.5 over PHILADELPHIA
  • MEMPHIS +2 over Phoenix
  • SACRAMENTO -5.5 over Seattle

*Playoff Analysis*

Last Night's Games

MIA/NJ: The Nets gave the Heat everything they had last night, but in the end, it was still just not enough to eek out a win. Carter, Jefferson, and Kidd (though he missed some timely shots) all had big games for Jersey as they hung tough throughout and certainly provided a great deal of excitement for the fans. However, the Heat hung on and despite a so-so performance, had the look of a team destined to duke it out with Detroit in the Eastern Conference Finals in a couple of weeksn. Though the Nets don't want to get swept, it's hard to picture them coming out with another big performance Sunday to match last night's. Look for the Heat to go back to Miami alone.

BOS/IND: The Celtics, much to my chagrin, looked terrible last night from the get-go. They never looked in sync on offense or defense, taking way too many bad shots and giving up way too many easy shots. Antoine Walker was atrocious on both ends the entire night and the result was shear frustration which saw him partake in two incidents that resulted in brief melees and technicals. The second altercation, where Jermaine O'Neal threw a couple of elbows and shoved Walker, and Walker handed JO a forearm shiver may be the one to worry about, Celtics fans. As the encounter subsided, Walker grabbed Official Tom Washington, who was standing in his way, and shoved him aside so as to go back towards O'Neal. A big no-no in the NBA Rules Book. Here's what I think results from the incident- Walker's forearm shiver may be construed as a punch, but since it's borderline, I think he'll draw a fine rather than a suspension. O'Neal will probably get fined as well, though if he had landed either one of those elbows, he'd certainly be facing a suspension. It's difficult to tell whether JO let his elbows flail out as to say "back off" or to intentionally hit someone. Walker will almost certainly draw a 1-game suspension for tossing the ref aside. At worst, I'd say Walker gets 2 games, O'Neal 1 game. Either way, the C's better be prepared to head into Game 4 without Antoine Walker.

DAL/HOU: This series appeared all but over when Houston jumped out to an 8-point lead in the opening minutes of the 4th before Dallas rattled off 20 in a row to save their asses from disappointment and embarrassment. Finally, we got a sense of urgency from Dallas. I'd never seen Dirk as intense in that 4th Quarter last night as in his entire career. I think it finally struck him what was on the verge of happening and he just let loose. He was openly yelling at teammates, playing with a nasty scowl on his face, and appearing reckless on both ends of the floor. And my God, it was exactly what the Mavericks needed. If there's ever been a time in an NBA game where you could tell the exact moment when a team decided it wanted the game more than the other, it had to have been right after Dirk was clearly seen cursing out Marquis Daniels for fumbling a pass. Suddenly, the Mavericks looked like an entirely different team, one that Houston was not at all ready for. I'll admit it right now-- I have no idea what the hell is going to happen in this series, but I'm damn well going to enjoy the rest of it. From the star power to the emotions, and the state rivalry to the level of play, this series could just as well be the Conference Finals. Needless to say, I'm anxiously awaiting Game 4 (and 5, 6, 7).

Tonight's Games

DET/PHI: I'll say it again, unless AI leads the Sixers by way of an extraordinary performance, there's just no way Philly takes down Detroit even once in this series. Pistons 92, 76ers 86.

PHX/MEM: Everyone keeps underestimating the Grizzlies, but in reality, they're one coaching move (J-Dub over Watson in the last 5 minutes of Game 2) away from a split in this series. It's easy to jump on Phoenix tonight because A) They're the #1 seed and have for the most part resembled who they were in the regular season during the first two games of the series; B) They were outstanding on the road this season at 31-10; And C) A 2-point line is practically a pick 'em. But don't get fooled into betting simply based on what the Suns have going for them. The Grizzlies split four contest with Phoenix this season and were a respectable 26-15 at home. On top of that, they have more to lose tonight than do the Suns, and Fratello has a chance to build on the improvement he made from Game 1 to Game 2. I may be in the minority on this one (and believe me, there's a force pulling me towards Phoenix), but I'm sticking with Memphis. I said they'd push the series to 6 last week and I'm sticking to that. Grizzlies 104, Suns 102.

SEA/SAC: The Kings have been the least impressive team in the Playoffs thus far (and yes, that does include Philly, New Jersey, and Washington), and will undoubtedly be thrilled to be back at Arco Arena tonight after choking down two losses at Key Arena. Here's an interesting nugget of information for you-- there are 5 new teams in the Playoffs this season that had their logos etched on ping-pong balls just a year ago (Phoenix, Philly, Seattle, Chicago, and Washington). Thus far, these teams have combined to go 6-4: 6-0 at home, 0-4 on the road. I'm sticking with this trend tonight (outside of Philly) and emphatically playing this card with Seattle. The Sonics had a spectacular time opening up the Playoffs in Seattle, but are they ready for an experienced, hungry Kings team at Arco? Kings 105, Sonics 96.

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