*I think I scored a cool 12/64 in March Madness.
How do I make my picks? I have a very strict process. First, I look at their overall records. Then, I go with my gut.
Alright. Let's get started.
EC-1 Cleveland Cavaliers v. EC-8 Chicago Bulls
The Cavs are the NBA's winningest team this year, racking up 61 wins. (That's 5 fewer than last year, but still second-best in team history.) The Bulls fought tooth and nail to pull 41 wins and make sure everybody still playing is at least .500.* So the Cavs have got a 20-game advantage.
*For the sake of my own interest, I find it interesting that if the playoff teams were chosen from the whole Association and not just the conferences, Houston would be in and Chicago out.
What does my gut tell me? The Bulls hang tough, but the Cavs will eliminate them. I think it might take 6 or 7 games.
WC-1 Los Angeles Clippers v. WC-8 Oklahoma City Thunder
We all know that the Thunder are on a roll* and the Lakers are on a stroll. Was that just because the Thunder were trying to make the playoffs and the Makers were bored? I don't know. I just know the Nakers finished up with a best-in-the-West 57 wins and the Thunder crossed the finish line with a meager 50 wins, good only for 4th in the Northwest.
*C'mon . . . gimme credit gimme credit. That's a good one.
So I style this series: Kobe v. Kevin. And I pick Kevin. Because I hate the Bakers. I call a sweep.
EC-2 Orlando Magic v. EC-7 Charlotte Bobcats
The Magic only got 59 wins . . . because they lost to Los Spurs. The Bobcats set a franchise record with 44 wins. Defense wins championships, so why do we have two of the three best defenses going at it in the first round? Because life sucks. And as much as I want the Michaelcats to beat the Magic, I'm eventually going to predict a black-on-black championship, so I have to pick the NBA's 4th best offense over its 24th best.
WC-2 Dallas Mavericks v. WC-7 San Antonio Spurs
I read recently that the Mavericks are one of only two teams to beat the Spurs in the postseason in like 106 years.* So there's that. And there's the Mavericks' 55 times being ahead at the buzzer compared to the Spurs' 50 dominating and merciless vanquishings. More importantly, there's last night.
*The other is the Pittsburgh Condors.
Seriously, objectively. The Spurs had more Pythagorean wins (55.2 to 48.7) and win the SRS matchup, 5.07 to 2.67. The Spurs have the NBA's 9th best offense, just ahead of the Mavericks' 10th best offense (110.0 to 109.2, if you're counting). The Spurs have the 2d-best defense in the West (3/4 of a point behind the Flakers), and the Mavericks are 12th (overall, 5th in the West), nearly two whole points behind (104.5 to 106.3). But the Mavericks were 4th-best in attendance, compared to the Spurs' 10th (819,770 to 741,676). So there's that.
Anything can happen in 7 games, but I'm picking Los Spurs because it's my blog.
EC-3 Atlanta Hawks v. EC-6 Milwaukee Bucks
The City of Milwaukee has every reason to hate the City of Atlanta. So the 53-29 Hawks better keep their eyes peeled* when the 46-36 Bucks gallop into town. I have a feeling Brandon Jennings is better than whatever the Hawks have got. Last year, the Hawks were my team in the East, but this year, I'm pulling for the Bucks.
WC-3 Phoenix Suns v. WC-6 Portland Trail Blazers
So the Suns think they're all that, setting* on a 54-28 season during which the Trail Blazers only found their way to an even steven 50. Still, the Blazers have got heart, even if the Suns have got sol**, and I hate the Suns almost as much as I hate the Mavericks and the Cakers. I love watching the Suns lose.
*You know you like that one.
**I am freakin' awesome!!
EC-4 Boston Celtics v. EC-5 Miami Heat
The Celtics have limped into the playoffs.
Dwayne Wade The Heat have limped into the playoffs. I mean, really, what's the difference between 50-32* and 47-35? I dislike Vince Carter and Stan Van Gundy, so I'm picking the Heat.
*First, does anybody else remember Rasheed saying they'd win 70 this year? And second, did anybody else notice that the Celtics had the worst record among division winners? The Jazz were next, at 53-29.
WC-4 Denver Nuggets v. WC-5 Utah Jazz
I gotta say, I like the Jazz this year. Continentaling in with 53 wins to slip past the Blazers and tie the Nuggets. I'm feeling the music this year. I'm not feeling the rocks.
I hope that wasn't too confusing about who won each round. Maybe this will help: snapshot predictions for the rest of the playoffs.
EC-1 Cleveland Cavaliers v. EC-5 Miami Heat. Remember last year, when the Cavs beat the Hawks beat the Heat? I fear it'll happen again. Cavs in 5.
WC-8 Oklahoma City Thunder v. WC-5 Utah Jazz. Tough call. These teams are both doing really well and really aren't that far apart in the standings. But I think I like Malone & Stockton more than Kemp & Schrempf. Jazz in 7.
EC-2 Orlando Magic v. EC-6 Milwaukee Bucks. Brandon Jennings is good, but he's not that good. I hate Vince Carter, but he might pull this one off. Magic in 5.
WC-7 San Antonio Spurs v. WC-6 Portland Trail Blazers. Do you really have to ask? Pythagorean wins: Spurs, 55.2 to 50.6. SRS: Spurs, 5.07 to 3.18. Offensive rating: Trail Blazers, 110.8 to 110.0. Defensive rating: Spurs, 104.5 to 107.1. Season series: Trail Blazers, 3-0. It looks like matchups might be a problem, but you already know whom I favor.
EC-1 Cleveland Cavaliers v. EC-2 Orlando Magic. Ho hum. Rematch of last year, when the Magic pulled 4 wins out of a 6-game hat. This year, they split the season series, the Magic have 2.2 more Pythagorean wins, almost a full point higher SRS, and play 0.2 points better on offense and nearly a point better on defense. It kinda sounds like Dwight will put the hurt on Shaq. And maybe quicker than last year's 6 games.
WC-5 Utah Jazz v. WC-7 San Antonio Spurs. Let's be objective. Pythagorean wins: Jazz by 0.3. SRS: Jazz by 0.26. Offense: Jazz by 0.7. Defense: Spurs by 0.5. And the Jazz swept the season series.*
*Very interesting thought I just had: the Jazz may be the objectively best team in the West.
But I said a long time ago I wanted a black-on-black finals, and the Jazz's colors are purple and green.
EC-2 Orlando Magic v. WC-7 San Antonio Spurs. This will be the defensive matchup David Stern's been dreaming of. I predict scores like 67-53, 81-80/3OT, and 36-14. We'll probably forget what championship we're watching.
But this, my friends, is where amazing happens.