NBA Playoff Preview: LeBron, ‘Melo, Jennings, D-Wade in action

04.17.10 9 years ago 40 Comments

Forget the first 82. The NBA playoffs get underway today: Cavs/Bulls at 3 p.m. EST (ABC), followed by Hawks/Bucks at 5:30 p.m. (ESPN), Celtics/Heat at 8 p.m. (ESPN), and Nuggets/Jazz at 10:30 p.m. (ESPN). Naturally, the Atlanta vs. Milwaukee series is getting the least amount of hype and attention, but honestly? It could be the best of the bunch. Ever since John Salmons came to the Bucks in a deadline trade, their games against the Hawks have routinely gone down to the wire, with Salmons and Joe Johnson serving each other heaping bowls of Bucket Pudding … Cavs/Bulls has potential for fireworks beyond the basketball part. You remember when LeBron and Joakim Noah got into a pissing contest earlier in the season, and the last time LeBron played in Chicago, he was talking to the Bulls bench while picking their defense apart on the floor. Noah made headlines when he said his team would “shock the world,” and ‘Bron responded by saying the Bulls were dealing with “a different monster” this time around … We got up with Miami’s Dorell Wright yesterday to preview Celtics/Heat. According to Wright, their plan is to push the tempo, defend, and let D-Wade do what D-Wade does. Is there any reason to believe the Heat won’t have a repeat of last year and exit quietly as soon as D-Wade starts to run out of gas? Yeah. Michael Beasley is better than in ’09, Q-Rich has proven to be dangerous when he gets going, and Miami has been hot in recent weeks. And we’ve been over Boston’s struggles already … Jazz/Nuggets seems to be all about injuries. Carlos Boozer (rib) is going to be a game-time decision, while Andrei Kirilenko (calf) has been ruled out of the entire series. Kenyon Martin (knee) is expected to play, but won’t be 100 percent. After that, this will come down to the Deron Williams vs. Chauncey Billups matchup, whether or not Utah can contain ‘Melo, and whether or not J.R. Smith gets hot … After initial reports said he’d be out 4-6 weeks following knee surgery, now Brandon Roy is only expected to miss 1-2 weeks. Seriously, the Blazers need to be smart and just cancel B-Roy out for at least the first two rounds, if they even make it that far. You hate to look like you’re throwing in the towel on the season, but Roy is the franchise’s long-term investment. There’s no need to risk turning him into Grant Hill. With all the other injuries Portland has suffered, obviously this just isn’t their year to win a championship … How did Phil Jackson manage to make Lakers/Thunder all about Kevin Durant and the refs? You think he and Pat Riley compare notes about how to do stuff like this? Is it like a chess match between the two? … Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers are coming back to Michigan State, so go ahead and book Final Four hotel rooms for Tom Izzo in 2011. Meanwhile, John Calipari keeps re-stocking the arsenal at Kentucky: High school All-American SG Doron Lamb is committing to UK, which we broke on but you can see the formal announcement today at the Jordan Brand Classic (8 p.m. EST, ESPN2) … The NBA released its list of the Top 10 Dunks of the Season, and naturally it sparked debate. We understand why a lot of people would have put D-Wade’s dunk over Varejao at No. 1 instead of Amar’e Stoudemire‘s Hulk-Smash on Anthony Tolliver, but to say Wade’s dunk was “clearly” better or imply it’s some kind of crime that Amar’e got the top spot is silly. For starters, this is all preference and opinion. There’s no way to definitively say one dunk was better than the other. Obviously whoever made the NBA list liked the Amar’e dunk more, and that makes total sense. Also consider that Wade’s dunk wasn’t all the way clean on the finish, and AV didn’t challenge it as much as Tolliver challenged STAT. But hey, it’s all opinion … We’re out like Kirilenko …

Around The Web