Saturday, April 30, 2011

Eastern Conference Semi-Finals Preview

Guest Contributor Ryan Mahanna is still high on life after the Buffalo Bills grabbed Marcel Dareus. While he is loving the NFL Draft, he is a hooper above all else. He takes a little time out of his life to share his Eastern Conference predictions.

(1) Chicago Bulls vs (5) Atlanta Hawks (Regular Season; Bulls 2-1)

These former roommates will be doing battle at Center.

When it comes to sports I am a big time hippie. Other than hating a few teams and players for personal reasons, I subscribe to the idea of ELE, Everybody Love Everybody. I enjoy different styles of play and respect philosophies that are different from my own. There are only 3 things that turn me off in sports: self-centered coaches, egotistical officials and front-runners. I HATE front-runners. No matter what form they come in (players, fans, media members, coaches, teams), front-runners always lose in the end. After forcing myself to watch some of the Hawks-Magic series I was able to finally figure out why I dislike watching the Atlanta Hawks play so much...Atlanta is the quintessential front-running team. It is the reason they can win by 30 as well as lose by 30 in the same series and the same reason why they will never gain my respect.

Randy Moss is an alien athlete and a front runner...aka the perfect Hawk

If you look at the two rosters, the Hawks are more talented in every position but point guard. The Hawks crunch-time 5 of Horford/Smith/Johnson/Crawford/Hinrich is much better than the Bulls unit of Noah/Boozer/Deng/Korver/Rose. I would expect to see Atlanta use Joe Johnson's size defensively to contain Derrick Rose (especially in the last 2 minutes) and try to exploit the Josh Smith-Carlos Boozer match-up. None of these "on-paper" advantages convince me that the Hawks can take this series past 5 games, however. In true front-runner fashion they will have one good shooting game, play harder because they are making shots and steal one game from Chicago. Despite Chicago being who we thought they were (by we I mean the RFH Collective), I still think they are too tough and well-coached to get tripped up by a team of 90's Yankee/Cowboys/Bulls fans.

(2) Miami Heat vs (3) Boston Celtics (Regular Season; Celtics 3-1)

The 2011 version of the Big Three.

After 10 months of competitive banter and manic sports talk, we finally have our May showdown between Miami and Boston for the Eastern Conference Championship. What? It's for the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals? Doesn't matter, same thing. These are the two best teams playing right now and I don't think the Bulls have a chance against either one of them. One of the most interesting dynamics of this series is never brought up in discussion. In many ways, Miami and Boston are the same. The 2008 Celtics brought in 2 perennial all-stars to play with the one they already had, were unproven at center and point guard, were thought to have a weak bench and had a coach that never won a playoff series. Sound familiar? Both teams are hated outside of Boston and Miami, the media is CONSTANTLY changing their opinion of them and they play excellent defense. For whatever advantage Miami has in youth, Boston has in experience and both teams are extremely difficult to officiate. I laugh when people say the Celtics are what basketball should be (chemistry/family) and the Heat aren't (superstars/egos). Then what was Boston in 2008? How can anyone say the Heat can't win it this year when just 3 years ago we had an example of a team doing just that? Again, sillyheads.

KG better bring his intensity to the offensive end as well.

As a Celtic fan, the thought of facing Lebron and Wade for two weeks is terrifying and I have already mentally prepared myself for losing that battle completely. I am not the biggest Rajon Rondo fan and I don't feel the Heat are dumb enough to let him go off. To me, the key to Boston's success has not changed in 4 years and is pretty simple. Kevin Garnett has to play well offensively, period. He will play hard and defend and act like a psychopath but that is not enough. He has to go out and get from 18-22 every night or else Boston is in a position where their bench HAS to score instead of just going out and playing loose. One key (and hilarious) match-up to watch will be the Joel Anthony vs Big Baby bench production battle. Both players are completely different but for Boston and Miami to be at their best, they both have to be at their weirdo bests. Boston will close it out in 6 in Boston and I will enjoy what will be most likely the last time that happens. On a personal note, my loving and hard-working girlfriend spent a small fortune for good tickets to game 3 Saturday night in Boston and if ANYONE in my section tells me to sit down or gives me dirty looks for excessive cheering I will not hesitate to take that jersey you just bought from the pro shop and choke you with it.


John Hendrie said...

Hinrich might be out the whole series with a hammy. Brutal for ATL's chances.

Sumner Widdoes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sumner Widdoes said...

Im not so sure I'm ok with the Hawks-Bulls crunch time five conclusion. To me, the frontcourts are pretty much a wash. Al Horford is only marginally more valuable than his former Gatormate and Josh Smith is decidedly more talented at jumping than Carlos Boozer, but their stats (advanced and regular) would only suggest a slight edge. But I would take Luol Deng over Joe Johnson in a second. It's not even close in my book -- the only thing Johnson has on Deng is his paycheck. I guess I'm really just agreeing with you, but I don't want to give the Hawks half the credit you did. Can't we just have the Hawks forfeit and let the Heat-Celts and Grizz-Thunder go best of 9?

John Hendrie said...

On the whole, I think the Bulls are stronger in crunch time....most days. ATL is virtually impossible to evaluate (basically because they are front runners). I would take Noah over Horford in a second. I'm a Joe Johnson guy though Soom. I actually think he's the second best player in the series. I agree though, lets cancel the series.

Thank god the Thunder got Perk or they would be in even more trouble against the Grizz. If they can control Westbrook the Grizz win the series.

Dave Hendrie said...

Here is my list of the best players in this series

1. Drose
2. Joe Johnson
3. Noah

Elite on there good days
4. Josh Smith
5. Horford
6. Boozer
7. Deng
8. Crawford

Play there roles
9. Korver
10. Bogans
11. Hinrich
12. Taj Gibson

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