Conference Semi-Final Preview

We come into the second round of the playoffs after seeing one of the best NBA series’ in the past decade. What a series between the San Antonio and LA! That series showed exactly what playoff basketball is. It’s about three things: the team must play defense, the must get rebounds especially offensive ones, and the team must play as a TEAM. Individual players get their teams to the playoffs, but I’m sure you notice they never win it all. You may want to go ask Allen Iverson or the LeBron in his first trip to Cleveland.

Three teams in the first round earned my respect and have me excited to see them next year. New Orleans, Milwaukee, and Boston have all made strides that frankly no one thought was possible.

Jason Kidd has had both a coaching turnaround and has led his team to one as well. Though the Bucks were under .500, they did make the playoffs after finishing without their best player, Jabari Parker. The squad was able to push the Bulls to six games before being destroyed. This team showed spunk and tenacity that I expect will linger into next season.

I, like most people, thought that the Celtics were beginning to tank once the trade of Rajon Rondo happened, but in reality they cut out a cancer. They got rid of a very talented plaayer that ruined his career in Dallas. Brad Stevens is already making his mark in only his second season. They also finished under .500 but in the final three games they pushed Cleveland to the brink. Next season expect them to finish above .500 but not much more. The East should be more respectable as the Indiana Pacers will be healthy and the Charlotte Hornets will be back off of their year long vacation.

The New Orleans Pelicans have a nucleus that will soon be tough to contend with. Anthony Davis is already the best big man in the game that can play around the basket and make jump shots. He also has talented players around him. Jrue Holiday has been a great addition to the team. If you pair them with Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon, and Ryan Anderson the team will sure be a top tier team in the loaded West.

Enough of the past, let’s look at the teams that will be playing in the second round.

Washington v Atlanta

Let’s be blunt, Washington killed Toronto. Now we do not know if the Wizards are just that good or if the Raptors played that bad. John Wall continues to lead this team. I must say that I thought he was an overrated player his first few years in the league, but he has grown into being one of the best point guards in the league.

Atlanta comes into the series hobbling after just getting past the Nets. It is clear that the Hawks are not as good as their record indicates. However, in the second round they will have to come out with more energy than they displayed in Brooklyn.

Chicago v Cleveland

Will this be the best matchup of the semi-finals? No, but these two teams will throw down.

Chicago proved how good they were when in game 6 they defeated the Bucks 120-66. The Bulls showed they could be dominant if they play within themselves. They have to limit their turnovers and exploit the depth of the team. They will need to steal one of the first couple of games on the road.

The Cavaliers have all but said that Kevin Love has been no help to them all season. Now they will get a chance to prove themselves. This is why LeBron went back home. Can he lead this team to the Conference Final? We will have to see, but they will have to play the first couple of games without the pain in the arse, JR Smith.

Memphis v Golden State 

The Grizzlies took advantage of the hurt Trail Blazers and will now have to play the best team in the league. Frankly, it will be tough for them to defeat the Warriors, but they will have to utilize their height inside and prevent GS from getting into a shooting groove, which is nearly impossible.

Golden State was challenged in the final three games of their first round series against the Pels. Steph Curry played like the MVP. Like all season long, the team was able to make jump shots from everywhere. However, the old phrase is you live by the jump shot and you die by it.

Los Angeles v Houston

This will be the best series. The Clippers are coming off of a franchise defining series. They were able to defeat the defeat the defending champs back to back to clinch the series. They also had to win two games in San Antonio, which does not always happen. We do not know about Chris Paul’s hamstring, as he was able to play after appearing to pull it. De’Andre Jordan will have to stay away from the line if the Clips want to win.

Should the Hack-A-_____ be outlawed?

The Rockets took advantage of the old and depressing Mavericks. James Harden continues perform at a high level. Josh Smith showed up and has become a phenomenal sixth man and spark off of the bench. Dwight Howard averaged a double double in the first round and will have to resume his great play.

Regis Mike
Washington v Atlanta Was 4-1

WAS 4-3

Chicago v Cleveland

Chi 4-2

CLE 4-2

Memphis v Golden State

GS 4-1

GS 4-1

Los Angeles v Houston Hou 4-2

LA 4-2

Photo: Reuters

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