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LCB NBA Picks: Eastern Conference, First Round

April 15, 2010


After taking a week off to recharge, Langston and Berndon are back to making picks, this time they break down the eastern conference match-ups for the first round.
Langston: There are a lot of playoff storylines this post-season, but the most intriguing to me is the impact the outcomes will have on the most anticipated free agency class in years. If the Cavaliers win the championship, does Lebron stay to win more for his home city or does he look for a new city to conquer? If they don't win does he stay to get Cleveland over the hump or does he finally realize that Cleveland is cursed? The same goes for Dwyane Wade, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Raymond Felton, and all the other unrestricted free agents. If the playoffs don't go the way everyone is expecting, we could have a really interesting summer, and I'm counting on it.

Berndon: In the East, the most intriguing subplot for me is, how will Milwaukee and Charlotte do as they unexpectedly got into the field. This coupled with how Boston will play, as they've been the most inconsistent team in all the league highlight what I'll be watching. I'd also be lying if i didn't say that I'm rooting for the Bulls to pull off the 8 v. 1 upset on the scope of when the Nuggests beat the Sonics in the mid 90's, with Joakim Noah playing the role of Mutumbo lying on the floor screaming with the ball in his hands. It's not going to happen, but who knows.

Picks
Langston:
(1) Cleveland Cavaliers v. (8) Chicago Bulls: The only team to have won the championship after finishing the season with four straight losses was the 1971 Knicks, this season, the Cavaliers will try to become the second. So history says their trip will be harder than anyone expects and that's before we even mention that the smaller quick lineup they have been using to demolish the competition will now be bigger and slower with Shaq's return. Does this mean the Bulls have a chance? Well, not really. The Cavs have Lebron and the Bulls are the worst team (record-wise) in the playoffs. They may have surprised us against the Celtics last season, giving us seven of the best games in the playoffs, but they don't have much of a shot in this one. I'll take the Cavaliers in five, and I feel like I'm being generous giving them even one win.


(4) Boston Celtics v. (5) Miami Heat: This series has everything needed to assure a great series, an ugly one but a good one. Both teams are pretty average offensively, Celtics ranked 13th and the Heat 19th in offensive efficiency. But they both bring it on defense, the Heat ranked 3rd and the Celtics 5th in defensive efficiency, which should give us a battle in each game of this series. According to the stats and the names on the back of the jerseys, the Celtics have the edge. But considering how badly they've been playing since the calendar switched to 2010 (27-27) and how they've played down to competition in the first round the past couple seasons, I think the Celtics will let the Heat stay in this series one game too long, losing the series in seven.


Berndon:
(2) Orlando Magic v. (7) Charlotte Bobcats: Orlando has been about as under the radar as a defending Finals runnerup could be. No one is really talking about them, but I think they're better than they were last year, and they will give Cleveland a great series if it gets that far. As for this one, I like how Larry Brown has helped this team improve, but in their first foray into the intesity of the playoffs, I think they lose in 5.

(3) Atlanta Hawks v. (6) Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks would be primed for the upset if they had their Aussie in the paint protecting the rim. Instead they have Kurt Thomas. And with Atlanta having arguably the best young starting frontcourt around with Josh Smith, Al Horford, and Marvin "If I would have stayed at UNC a little longer, I wouldn't be shit on my whole life because Chris Paul is 50 times better than me, and I got picked ahead of him" Williams. I like Brandon Jennings to exploit his matchup with a rapidly aging Mike Bibby, but aside from that, Atlanta is better across the board. Atlanta in 6.

18 comments:

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April 15, 2010 at 8:47 PM
Teach said...

At this point, is it even worth making the Marvin to Paul comparison? I can think of only two other more played out draft diatribes: Manning vs. Leaf and Bowie over MJ. I mean in his own right Marvin's a solid pro, and it's not like he drafted himself over Paul.

April 15, 2010 at 9:42 PM
Teach said...

Agree with pretty much all the picks. If the Heat were to take the Celtics to 7, what are the chances Doc just tells Big Baby to take out Dwyane on the opening tip? I wouldn't want anything to do with Wade in a Game 7, especially if all my perimeter players are as old as the Celtics, with a hard C, not a soft one.

I could see Charlotte pushing the Magic to 6, but that's it.

And I'm with Berndon on the Bucks. Bogut out is one of the saddest parts of this season.

April 15, 2010 at 9:45 PM
Teach said...

PS the worse Hawk pick was Sheldon over Brandon Roy, with Rajon Rondo still on the board also (even though Rondo was taken way down the line at #21). It wouldn't have made sense to draft Rondo that high at the time, but imagine the Hawks' athleticism if they had Rondo, Joe Johnson, and Josh Smith.

April 15, 2010 at 10:01 PM
Langston said...

It makes you think how things would change had the teams picked differently. Like, if the Celtics don't get Rondo, the future of their franchise is probably Big Baby and Nate Robinson. The thought of that is just plain sad. Also, was Rondo an unstoppable force waiting to be unleashed or did he really learn that much from the veteran Celtics?

Speaking of Shelden, I never understood how he got drafted so high, I just never saw whatever it is that he supposedly possessed.

April 16, 2010 at 5:05 PM
Teach said...

Langston: I'm on the side of Rondo being a force that was unleashed. I think the vets around him just made him relevant sooner. I don't get Shelden that high, but I also remember thinking he would be better than he's been. I always thought he was the underrated center piece of those Duke teams. Also, in defense of Marvin, a lot of scouts and experts had him as the #1 guy in that draft over both Bogut and Paul.

April 16, 2010 at 5:54 PM
Russ said...

Epic choke job if Cleveland doesn't win the East. Best player on best team. Orlando will have to depend on Vince Carter in crunch time to win big games. I have to see it to believe it. Nobody else in the East has a chance.

April 16, 2010 at 5:55 PM
Langston said...

I was going to tell you how your overestimating Vince's impact, but Kelly Dwyer already did the work for me.

http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/Can-Orlando-and-Los-Angeles-give-us-a-Finals-rep?urn=nba,234725#remaining-content

April 16, 2010 at 6:17 PM
Russ said...

I'm not that surprised Shelden hasn't done better. His offense came along way while at Duke, but he was no where near the offensive threat as Boozer and Brand, and he hasn't really improved that in the NBA. He was a great rebounder/defender of the rim while at Duke, but it hasn't translated to the NBA. You either has to be a freak athlete like Josh Smith or be 7'0 to be a great inside defender, and he's neither.

April 16, 2010 at 6:17 PM
Russ said...

When Vince Carter's vagina gets injured in Game 2 against Cleveland, who is Orlando going to rely on to score/create in crunch time? Rashard Lewis does nothing but shoot 3s, Howard disappears in close games because he can't shoot free throws. Nelson is just not as good after the injuries. They need Vince to win, and there inlies the problem.

April 16, 2010 at 6:36 PM
Iceman, AD said...

JJ Redick.

April 17, 2010 at 6:04 PM
Anonymous said...

In what way is Jameer Nelson not as good after the injuries? He passes the "eye test" and his stats for the season were equal to his career averages. And he's playing great in today's game against the Bobcats (26 points through the first 3 quarters). I haven't seen any decline in his game whatsoever.

April 18, 2010 at 7:49 PM
Langston said...

Jameer Nelson 2009 (pre-injury): 3P% 45, FG% 50, FT% 88, PER 20.66
Jameer Nelson 2010 (post-injury): 3P% 38, FG% 44, FT% 84, PER 15.55

April 18, 2010 at 8:14 PM
Langston said...

One more note; 15 is the league average for PER. Last year he was among one of the best before he got injured, and now he is barely above average.

April 18, 2010 at 8:17 PM
Anonymous said...

Yes, his numbers were down post-injury. But he isn't showing any sign that he isn't the same player.

Jameer Nelson (April 2010): 3P% 51, FG% 50, FT% 83, PER ???
Jameer Nelson 2009 (pre-injury): 3P% 45, FG% 50, FT% 88, PER 20.66

His stat line from today's game: 3P 4-8, FG 10-18, FT 10-10, PTS 32

All signs indicate that he's back to where to was pre-injury. Maybe he wasn't at first, but now he is.

April 18, 2010 at 8:40 PM
Langston said...

I agree he has the ability to be every bit as good as he was last season. But his tentativeness to attack and the lack of consistency over the course of the season show that the injury has affected his game.

April 18, 2010 at 8:51 PM
Anonymous said...

Obviously we're going to disagree, but I just don't see it. I'd say the injury "had" affected his game, not "has". But I might be a little biased. I just don't think it's fair to judge a player's production by taking into account how he performs immediately after recovering from an injury. I don't think there will be any long-term affects. In fairness, I haven't had the opportunity to talk to Jameer personally. But I was talking to this guy at Jimmy John's the other day, who ironically has an identical injury history to Jameer. He said it took him some time to recover, but through 8 games Tony is leading his slow pitch softball team in home runs, batting average, and RBI's. We'll just have to see what happens in the playoffs and going forward (for both Jameer and Tony).

April 18, 2010 at 9:17 PM
Teach said...

hmmmmm...what sub did Tony order at Jimmy John's? maybe should let the magic know in case that part of his diet has helped him recover to dominate softball

April 18, 2010 at 9:28 PM

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