Thursday, April 17, 2008

That Escalated Quickly

And we are here. Everybody has been looking at the 2008 Playoffs as promising greatness, and there is little to dissuade us from this thinking. Yet, at the same time, two and half months from now I wonder if we will look back at this moment and say that we were excited about the wrong elements. As Celtics fans we have every right to be pumped - it looks like Boston has the easiest road to the Finals of any contender. But the way the West seedings shook out, coupled with the thought that some of the Western teams might not be as legitimate as we think, makes me believe we could be looking at a much more traditional playoff experience than is being advertised.

Let's get real - most teams in the West don't have a chance of winning the whole thing. We should get this thought of awesome Western parity out of our heads - there is no Finals grab bag. It's the Spurs, Lakers, Suns and Mavs who have a shot - and I might be generous by including those last two teams. While any of seven Western teams could win a series (Denver is helpless), there is little reason to believe that most have the stamina and strength to successively win multiple series. You have to be mentally sharp as nails and also have an abundance of talent. Thus most prognosticators realistically think it will be LA or San Antonio.

The biggest shame about the seedings is Spurs-Suns in round one. In terms of talent there might have been a better first round pairing in history, but I can't think of it. I still believe whoever comes out of that series will represent the West in the Finals. Which is why it sucks they have to play in round one. It was strange enough when they met in the second round last year, and this is much worse. Too much good quality is going to be immediately eliminated, and you'll realize it more once it's gone. I know there are those of you who think the Suns are a jokey team that doesn't play enough defense, but they are much more legitimate than Utah (which often doesn't play good D), New Orleans (ultimately too young), and Houston (not enough talent). I see the Suns probably losing this series, and it would be an interesting epitaph to Phoenix's run as a serious contender.

The Lakers, meanwhile, should be able to (relatively) glide into the Western Finals thanks to the seedings. The Nuggets are ultimately a joke, and Utah doesn't play enough defense to stop LA, while Houston wouldn't have enough firepower to keep up with them. SA/PHX will have a dragout fight with either Dallas (peaking just like they hoped to) or NO (actually the Hornets might get lost in the moment a little - even though Chris Paul does deserve the MVP.) So while all this might make your head spin (and my convoluted writing doesn't help) it turns out that we probably have the same amount of contenders and same playoff paradigm as most years. I see (pray) the Celtics taking down the Spurs in the Finals. But there'll be a lot of action before we reach that dream point.

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