Well friends, the conference semi-finals are over and it is onto the conference finals. The conference semis mostly went by without fan-fare, as the Spurs and Thunder continued to dominate the western conference and even though on the surface, the eastern conference had two series which went deep, they really did not provide much drama as the two favorites won out in the end. However, the conference finals are shaping up to be the most exciting round of the playoffs as you have a can’t miss matchup in the west and the old guard against the young punks in the east.
Since I really have no idea what is going to happen, I’ll make two sets of predictions, one with my head and the other with my heart, so that I can cover all of my bases and make it clear that while I think the Heat will do well, I can still say my heart never wanted them to.* And if that wasn’t clear enough, when I pick with my head, I’m saying what I think will actually happen. When I pick with my heart, I am saying what I want to happen to satisfy my boyish NBA fantasies.
#2 Miami Heat vs. #4 Boston Celtics
Watchability Factor –I’ll readily admit, I really wish there was another team in the East represented here. I hate both of these teams so much, it defies description. The Celtics are the dirtiest team in history and play like a bunch of old men, which they are. The Heat flop even more than the Celtics and when they play, ESPN loses its ability to focus on just about everything else (Tim Tebow aside). Despite that, this should be a pretty interesting series, if you can stomach it. Though I’ll only be watching if it goes deep. Start watching at Game Five.
Head – The Heat finally seemed to have awoken after falling behind in their second round matchup against the Pacers. Even without Chris Bosh, they seem to be playing at their highest level right now, as they are finally getting production out of their bench with guys like Udonis Haslem having big games. The Celtics for their part have skated by once again, first beating a superiorly talented, yet utterly lost Hawks team and lucking into a matchup with a 76ers team which they should have dismantled, but instead took seven games to beat. That all being said, the Celtics have enough dirtbaggery left in them to pull out a game or two. Heat in Six
Heart – This one is all about picking the lesser of two evils. And as much as I hate the Heat, the pleasure of seeing LeBron James fall apart in the finals is just too much to pass up. Nothing would make me happier than seeing Tim Duncan or Kevin Durant raise the trophy in the finals over a dejected LeBron. Heat in Seven
#1 San Antonio Spurs vs. #2 Oklahoma City Thunder
Watchability Factor – This one is going to be great. You have two of the highest scoring teams in the NBA, a slew of superstars and up to seven games of the best basketball around. As I have harped on over and over again, the Spurs are up-tempo, must watch basketball and the Thunder are the most exciting team in basketball. These teams match up well with each other and we can only hope this one goes deep and lives up to the billing. Best Series of the Playoffs
Head – These two teams are so close; you could almost toss a coin. I am going to pick the Spurs because they have been here before, they haven’t lost a game yet and I just don’t feel right picking against Popovich in the playoffs. I expect the Thunder to push the Spurs to the absolute limit, as they are the only team in the Western Conference who can keep up with the Spurs fast-passing attack. Spurs in Seven.
Heart – Tim Duncan and Kevin Durant are two of the most likeable superstars in the league. And while I would love to see Duncan get a fifth championship, I would also love to get to see Kevin Durant, who is the anti-LeBron, get to dominate him and the Heat in the finals. Thunder in Seven.