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The 2006 NBA Playoffs

The Second Round Has Heated Up

The second round has passed its midpoint and we are all witness to what a great season this has been. From multiple overtimes, to compelling storylines, we are seeing the shift happen thanks to Dallas, LA Clippers and Cleveland. The old guard is still fighting and I can't say they won't continue on, living to ball another day. But it's obvious that the upstarts are trying to make tomorrow happen today.

The biggest surprise, no offense to LeBron, has been the way the Miami Heat took out New Jersey. Sorry to say, I completely mis-read the tea leaves on this one and thankfully so. I love the combination of Shaq and Flash and how they can raise or lower their individual games while making teammates better. In the uptempo game Flash was unleashed and the Nets weak frontline couldn't withstand the punishment of Shaq and Haslem. In game 5, we saw the reality of it all. Despite the Nets big three having each having monster games, the Heat's determination and veteran savvy pushed them through to a one point win.
Predicted: New Jersey 4 - Heat 2. Result: Miami 4 - New Jersey 1.

Now to LeBron. I loved the chorus of articles about how LeBron is better than Kobe, how he's the anti-Kobe, etc. And the proof is in the pudding. For all the comparisons between the two best players in the league, it's obvious that is that LeBron has no trust issues and actually creates a virtuous cycle of trust with his willingness to do whatever it takes to win. And that's where a great player can step it up, not only in scoring, but also with passing, defense, having faith, and showing determination. What he did in games three and four is simply amazing. He took the NBA's best team to task and now we have a series. The Cavs have a chance every time this young blood steps onto the court. Remarkable for a 21 year old and he continues to just get better. Yes, we are all witness.
Predicted: Detroit 4 - Cleveland 2.

In the West, Dallas has been the beneficiary of some ticky tack fouls in game three and four. But why is that? They have been the aggressors. The Mavericks gelled at the right time and continue to dispel the soft, weak label that has haunted them for years. This is a championship team with a group of young, athletic guys who can really get after it on defense and offense. It's not as if the Spurs are playing badly and a couple of more fortunate bounces could have them up 3 - 1. But the Mavs are as grizzled as Dirk's goatee at this point. I'm not totally giving up on the Spurs, but they've been bloodied and are teetering...
Predicted: San Antonio 4 - Dallas 3.

With the Suns and Clippers, game five might have been the clincher for Phoenix. A hard fought double overtime game came down to a couple of great shots and a strong game from Marion. The Pacific division is about equal with the Clippers, Lakers and Suns. But the Suns have just a bit more experience and smarts (not you Sam I Am) to eek out these close games.
Predicted: Phoenix 4 - LA Clippers 3.

Looking forward to what the semi-finals hold as I sing, "Let's get it started in here..."