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LCB Hoops Picks: Western Conference, Second Round

May 2, 2010

With the first round finished out West, myself and Berndon join forces yet again to bring you our picks for who will play in the Conference Finals.
Berndon: I had a hunch that with the parity displayed throughout the season out West, that the first round of the playoffs would mirror the competitive nature of the regular season. Although none of the series' went the full 7 games, all were closely fought old-school physical playoff battles. The big names have shined for those that moved on, but the real keys might just be some of the role players who have expanded their roles, a la George Hill, Wesley Matthews, etc. That's one of the best parts of the playoffs, seeing the Robert Horry's of the world emerge and become heroes.

Langston: Before the first round, I stated that I had no idea if the Lakers were ready to defend their crown. After disposing of the pesky team from OKC in six games, I am still left with a lot of questions regarding the Lakers. However, I like their chances to move on to the conference finals. The biggest question mark for the Lakers is the injury to Andrew Bynum, but with Mehmet Okur out for the playoffs it balances things out. The Lakers have owned the Jazz in the playoffs over the past two seasons and took care of them with relative ease in the regular season, winning the series 3-1 with all three wins by fourteen points or more. So while I have no idea if they're playing their best basketball or not, I feel confident that the Lakers will make their third straight trip to the conference finals.

Picks
Berndon
(1) Los Angeles Lakers v. (5) Utah Jazz: I couldn't tell if the Lakers were just diplaying their usual arrogance and cruising until they really had to play last series, or if Oklahoma City was actually just a damn good team, especially for an 8 seed. It was probably a little bit of both. Now they get Utah, a team they took care of 3 out of 4 times in the regular season, including once without Kobe. Utah is banged up, but might get Andrei Kirilenko back by Game 3. L.A. is banged up, as Kobe is a walking injury report, with Andrew Bynum also hurting. I think this will play out in typical Laker fashion, where they'll decide to fully show up at the end and close it out, as I see it going 6. There's only so much Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer can do, and even though the supporting cast is getting better as the games go forward, there's a difference between playing against an insane team that needs the voice of reason to come from their coach to one with a coach who is the reason they have won multiple championships. The Lakers won't make the same mistakes Denver made, and Boozer won't have as much of an impact on the boards. Lakers in 6.

Langston
(3) Phoenix Suns v. (7) San Antonio Spurs: For the second straight series, the Spurs face off against a team they know extremely well. This will be the fourth time in six years that the two teams have matched-up in the playoffs, with the Spurs winning all the previous series. The names we have come accustomed to hearing will be key factors (Tim Duncan, Amar'e Stoudemire, Tony Parker, Steve Nash, Manu Ginobili, Jason Richardson) and a couple of new names will be introduced as x-factors (DeJuan Blair, George Hill, Channing Frye, Jared Dudley). However the biggest factor for this series is tempo, the team that forces the other to play at their pace will win this series. During the season, the Suns won that battle, taking the season series 2-1 with both teams breaking triple digits in each game. Both teams have highly efficient offenses ranking in the top ten, the Spurs appear to be the superior team on the defensive side of the ball ranking 9th to the Suns 19th. I, like any other basketball fan, love watching good offenses run their sets. However, with both teams being so efficient, the edge has to go to the team with the better defense, influencing me to pick the Spurs in six. Well that and I have absolutely no faith in Jason Richardson.

21 comments:

Teach said...

love the Manu pic

May 2, 2010 at 3:04 PM
Langston said...

Thanks. I had a hunch it would turn out pretty good when I saw it.

The Bynum injury would normally spell doom for this team, but in last years playoffs he was just coming back when they played the Jazz. Odom was forced into starting two of the games, played pretty well, and helped lead them to a series win. So I think it will be a non-issue for the series, though it does make it a lot tougher.

May 2, 2010 at 3:20 PM
Langston said...

After the first three quarters or so it appears the Bynum injury was a bit overplayed. Also Deron Williams is clearly in a lot of pain, and still playing wonderfully.

May 2, 2010 at 5:11 PM
Teach said...

Yeah, Deron Williams continues to impress. I feel bad for him and Utah. Even if they resign Boozer he and this franchise appear to be intertwined in a state between good and great. For a while, they waited on the Spurs to get old, now they're waiting on the Lakers to age, and by the time it's their time. . . the Thunder will be rolling. At least, that's what it looks like will happen

May 2, 2010 at 10:47 PM
Langston said...

Yeah you have to feel for Sloan a little bit, all the teams he has coached being so close to greatness that failed to find that missing piece or that extra something to push them over the top.

May 2, 2010 at 11:22 PM
Teach said...

True cause if you look beyond Deron's career to Sloan's...there's the shadow of Jordan, which looms over just about every Hall of Famer of that generation

May 3, 2010 at 6:26 PM
Teach said...

Do you think Sloan ever wishes he could trade players with Phil Jackson?

May 3, 2010 at 6:26 PM
Langston said...

How could he not at least a couple of times? I would be more surprised if there was any coach in the league that hadn't thought about how great it would be to coach the Jordan era Bulls or Kobe led Lakers.

May 3, 2010 at 6:30 PM
Teach said...

Def, but I guess I brought up Sloan because he had great players, but has also shown he's a great coach...I don't think either would find himself in the Mike Brown category...I think he's totally a LeBron by product

May 3, 2010 at 8:01 PM
Langston said...

Agreed, there are a lot of coaches in the league that I would quantify as products of the players around them. Sloan isn't one of them, and I would probably say the same for George Karl.

May 3, 2010 at 8:10 PM
Russ said...

I could coach Lebron to the finals. I don't know about Sidney Lowe.

May 3, 2010 at 8:13 PM
Langston said...

Sidney Lowe would probably bench Lebron in favor of Common, because, you know, he hooped pretty well in that new movie of his.

May 3, 2010 at 8:26 PM
Russ said...

That movie looks like a really crappy version of Love and Basketball. I need Bryan to come in with his Common expertise because he knows his music more than me, but to me he is got to be one of the bigger sell outs in the industry right now. How do you go from Resurrection to this?

May 3, 2010 at 9:26 PM
Teach said...

The harbinger that this was to come from Common was probably his song "Go," produced by Kanye and featuring John Mayer. That was on his album BE, which was quite good actually. Finding Forever had its moments, but his last album announced I'm 40 years old and I'm just not that in to rapping anymore. I'm not sure I'll go as far as saying he sold out--most of Resurrection is about not having money and wanting money. In fact, I don't know if a rapper can sell out, considering that all of hip hop is about having a hustle/getting paid. It's an art form that avoids the art of selling out, meaning you're either good and relevant, good and obscure, or just terrible and on the radio.

May 3, 2010 at 10:02 PM
Teach said...

Mike Brown is terrible and on the radio.

May 3, 2010 at 10:02 PM
Russ said...

I guess I'm just perturbed that he went from good and relevant to not caring to then becoming a terrible actor to then doing GAP commercials to then being a terrible actor in a cheesy chick flick. Damn him.

May 3, 2010 at 10:35 PM
Langston said...

Common, LL Cool J, and Ice Cube should be on a sitcom together. It's the next logical step for all of their careers.

May 3, 2010 at 11:56 PM
Iceman, AD said...

Langston: Aren't they all starring in "Are we there yet?" on TBS? Very Depressing.

May 5, 2010 at 2:53 AM
Langston said...

I'm not sure, but isn't "TBS.. Very Depressing" their new slogan?

May 5, 2010 at 10:10 AM
Iceman, AD said...

No, actually their new slogan is "TBS...BET passed, so we took it."

May 5, 2010 at 3:00 PM
Russ said...

Who is Goran Dragic? Wow

May 8, 2010 at 1:30 AM

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