* Apologies for this double post, guys! Still trying to maneuver through the WordPress update for Android.
Knicks Nation is in another stratosphere right now! The Knicks have not seen May basketball since I was in college at Hofstra. The Knicks have not seen May basketball since Bill Clinton was in office. The last time the Knicks saw May basketball, Latrell Sprewell was still in the NBA. So all the critics and obnoxious fan bases have to shut up and let us enjoy this.
Now, that I got that out, the Knicks have to re-focus and remember what brought them this far to begin with. I said in my prediction post that the Knicks would beat the Celtics in 6. I also said that the X Factor for the series would be Iman Shumpert playing pesky defense. His perimeter D in particular will haunt the rival Boston Celtics all summer.
That being said, the old rivalry with the Pacers has now been re-ignited. The Pacers have 1 thing that the Celtics also had; a strong inside presence. The Celtics really only had KG defensively and Jeff Green offesnively. For the Pacers, when Roy Hibbert and David West are playing in sync and West is shooting well, the Pacers are a sneaky team that can beat a team statistically better than them. The key to the Knicks winning this series will be their offensive rebounding and turnovers
(plus Reggie Miller shutting the f*** up). Tyson Chandler is 1 of the best and most efficient big men at getting 2nd chance opportunities for his team. His tap outs have impeccable timing. Part of the scare of Game 6 vs, the Celtics was the Knicks stop moving the ball in the final quarter. They allowed the Celtics to go on a 16-0 run because they weren’t moving the ball east-to-west and they were settling on the “hero ball” shots. Felton has been playing incredibly in the postseason and he’ll need to be maintain that momentum by helping Melo set the offense a little quicker. The Knicks are, just as they were in the 1st round, definitely the more talented team. But they can’t take their feet off the gas at any point against this Pacers squad. Knicks win in 6.
Miami has such an easy road to the finals. So much so that it’s unfair how much rest they’ll get as they advance. And they will. Like most of the basketball world, I’m sick to the death of the D-Rose talk! He’s not coming back and the Bulls front office should’ve just shut him down for the season to do away with the annoying speculative talk. Nate Robinson has been a huge contributor to the Bulls forcing that Game 7 victory. However, the Bulls might be without Luol Deng for game 1. Which means they really have no one to effectively guard LBJ without avoiding foul trouble. This same Rose-less squad ended the Heat’s historic streak, but I just don’t see them besting LBJ & co. in a 7 game stretch. Heat win in 5.
The Thunder-Grizzlies series is currently on as I’m doing this post. I already stated that the Grizzlies are dangerous when Mike Conley is playing like a top point guard. People were surprised and even upset that Marc Gasol was named Defensive Player of the Year over LBJ. But Gasol is a major reason why the Grizzlies are so good. Defensively, he’s all over the paint and boards. I don’t necessarily agree that the Thunder aren’t as good without Russell Westbrook. But they are a bit of a different team. Because of Kevin Durant’s length and his ability to sell the same foul over and over, the Thunder do have the slight edge on the Grizzlies. But on the other hand, they’re looking very funny in the light missing Westbrook’s tenacity and energy. I’m going to predict this series to the Thunder in 7.
Nobody believed me when I said the Warriors would upset the Nuggets. Steph Curry has solidified his position as a top 5 point guard after his performance in the series. His real test is coming as the Warriors take on the deeper, more experienced Spurs. Let me preface this the same way I prefaced the Heat’s next series; these long breaks are beneficial. This extended break was especially good for the Spurs since they only have 1 young starter (Kawhi Leonard) Without a healthy David Lee, I’m not as confident in the Warriors in the 2nd round. The other factor is Steph Curry is what Tony Parker was 4-5 years ago. Heck, Parker is still in the 4th/5th spot as the league’s best point guard. Both are lightening fast and once they get in the zone, they don’t miss. Parker has a slight upside though because he’s a better penetrator. So this won’t be an easy road for the Spurs. Much like the Thunder last year, the Warriors clearly have youth on their side. I’m still giving it to the Spurs in 6.