NBA questions: Can the Heat go all the way?
The NBA playoffs are in full swing and already there have been
Who would have thought the Bulls could lose a first-round
series, or that the Knicks would win a game against the Miami
As the first round winds down, some questions about the
postseason so far and a few predictions:
– CAN METTA WORLD PEACE SAVE THE LAKERS? Asking the former Ron
Artest to provide stability might seem strange, particularly as he
returns from his latest trouble with the NBA, a seven-game
suspension for elbowing Oklahoma City’s James Harden in the head.
But the Lakers need someone to provide some defense and a couple of
3-pointers as they head to Game 7 against Denver, making this the
perfect time for World Peace to remind us that there is some good
to go with his bad.
– THE PACERS. REALLY? Yes, really. Indiana is 16-4 since the
start of April, and clobbered Miami by 15 points a week before
that. With 7-foot-2 All-Star Roy Hibbert at center, two solid point
guards and a quality bench, the Pacers have strength at the spot of
the Heat’s biggest weaknesses. If that isn’t enough to persuade you
to give them a chance against LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the
Heat, consider the words of their coach. ”We are not the underdog
here,” Frank Vogel said. Tough talk, tough team, just not good
enough. The Heat will march on.
– WHAT ABOUT THOSE CRAZY 8s? The Philadelphia 76ers became the
fifth No. 8 seed to beat a No. 1 when they knocked off Chicago, and
they handled second-round opponent Boston easily in both
regular-season games in Philadelphia. Don’t forget: The New York
Knicks were a No. 8 when they went all the way to the finals in
1999, the only other season shortened by a lockout, but there’s no
repeating that now. The Celtics, in likely the last hurrah for this
group, will end this Philadelphia story.
– ARE THERE MORE INJURIES TO COME? There’s a lot of hoops left
to play, but let’s hope not. Injuries (Does Kobe Bryant’s stomach
bug count?) already did in the Bulls, Magic and Knicks, and are
even playing havoc with the U.S. Olympic team. But if you believe
the schedule is to blame, keep your eye on the next round: Some
teams may have to play on back-to-back days in the postseason, the
last remaining obstacle from the compressed schedule.
CAN THE WEST FINALS BE AN L.A. STORY? A Lakers-Clippers matchup
with an NBA finals spot at stake would be a hit in Hollywood.
Staples Center tenant vs. Staples Center tenant; the team that
thought it had acquired Chris Paul against the one that actually
got him. Sorry, this script is flimsy. Both teams are just trying
to hold on after squandering 3-1 leads in their first-round series,
and even if they do, neither will get out of the second round.
– WHO WILL BE THE MVP OF THE PLAYOFFS? There is no such award,
but if there were, how about the same guy who would have won it two
years ago? Rajon Rondo will never get the attention of Boston’s Big
Three, but the Celtics would never get anywhere without him. Once
Derrick Rose went out, the Celtics’ do-everything point guard might
have become the only player who can stop a championship parade in
– AFTER AN EXCITING SEASON, WOULD THE NBA SHORTEN THE SEASON
PERMANENTLY? Not unless they could figure out how to make 82 games
worth of money in 66 games. Commissioner David Stern left the door
slightly open this week when he said during a radio show the issue
would be raised with owners, but Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver,
who will likely run this league in a couple of years, already shot
down the idea and figure owners would do the same.
– WHO WILL WIN THE NBA CHAMPIONSHIP? Miami will roll into the
finals as the favorite, but that didn’t matter last year when it
ran into a veteran team from Texas. Well, same state, same result,
different city: The Larry O’Brien trophy goes from Dallas to San
Antonio, the Spurs denying the Heat and winning their second title
in a lockout season and fifth overall.
Follow Brian Mahoney on Twitter: