Sunday, May 15, 2011

2010-2011 NBA Playoffs Conference Finals Preview (sport)

I don't think anyone saw the Dallas sweep of the Lakers coming, but I did pick one of the series exactly right. Oklahoma City was my pre-playoff pick, but I really can't say that any of these four teams look like a champion to me. I think that whichever one of these four teams steps up and plays at a level higher than they did in the previous rounds will take this.

Chicago vs. Miami

The two key questions for me are whether Chicago can generate offensive production down low, and whether one of Miami's shooters (not LeBron or Wade) can get hot. Miami's weakness remains on the interior, but Chicago does not really score down low on power. Boozer is more of a jump shooter while Noah is not a main offensive option, even though I expect he will get many hustle rebounds. Atlanta could not handle Chicago's tenacious defense, but a large part of that was that Atlanta's guards and forwards were not good passers out of the double team. LeBron and Wade are both terrific passers, so it will come down to whether their shooters will make those open shots off the double teams. I will also be curious who Miami uses to defend Derrick Rose. I highly doubt Bibby can keep Rose in front of him, and I think the most effective option will probably be Wade.

Prediction: Chicago in 7

Dallas vs. Oklahoma City

After watching the Thunder's series with Memphis, I don't think they're ready yet. While Westbrook is capable of doing amazing things, I don't think his decision-making is there yet, and I think that without a perfect series, Oklahoma City can't win. Dallas is so deep and has so much firepower that the Thunder will have to keep pace with the scoring, and not just rely on solid defense. The problem is that Perkins and Ibaka can be offensive liabilities, and it just won't be enough in my opinion.

Prediction: Dallas in 6


Jonathan Weinstein said...

You saw that crazy game tonight? I think J. Kidd has peaked at age 38. I mean, how does a guy go most of his career without being able to hit an outside shot to save his life, and now he's a serious threat from 3? Crazy. And Nowitski also peaking after 12 years in the league.

Scott Brooks seems like an awful coach. Get someone real in there and the Thunder can win next year.

Jonathan Weinstein said...

Well, looking at the stats, I guess J. Kidd has always shot it OK from 3, although his overall FG% has always been his weak spot (and still was this year, but seems better in the playoffs; mostly I guess he only shoots if he's wide open, then he's OK.) Still great in every other phase.

The Pretender said...

I think what people tend to forget is that Rick Carlisle is an excellent coach. Constantly underrated because he hasn't won a championship and hasn't really had teams with a dominant superstar, his career regular season record is stellar.

I don't know that Nowitzki is peaking around his 12th year as much as they finally found the best way to utilize him offensively, with that top of the key setup creating unsolvable mismatches. I credit at least some of that to Carlisle.

As for Jason Kidd, I can tell you from experience playing basketball that there is a huge difference between a jump shot and a set shot. As he only now takes open threes, they're all set shots whereas as a point guard in his prime, he had to drive and distribute, and his pull up jump shot suffered.

Besides, expertise in shooting one type of shot cannot really be extrapolated to other types of shots. Bruce Bowen almost shot better from the 3pt line than from the foul line.

Jonathan Weinstein said...

That's interesting about jump shot vs. set shot. I probably didn't notice the difference so much, I mostly pay attention to where people are and whether they have a hand in their face.

Yes, I think Carlisle is excellent. As for Brooks, whenever they show him on the sideline he is telling his guys to "play defense" or "hustle" or the equivalent. Actually I guess that's true with most coaches. Is during-the-game coaching really this inane, or does the network have a gentleman's agreement with coaches not to broadcast anything of substance because it would give away their strategy?

The Pretender said...

It's kind of like cooking right? Most of the hard work is in the prep and the overall recipe (strategy). During the game it's about motivation and execution.

That being said, I'm pretty sure the TV people are not allowed to actually show a diagrammed play being drawn up.

Also, it's entirely possible that the TV people think that the coach telling his guys to hustle is all that their casual fans care for. The NBA is in the business of selling athletic dunks on posters, not well-executed drawn up plays that lead to open layups.