Greetings everyone. Pretty exciting night last night if you're in the West, pretty eventful morning if you're in the East. Let's talk playoffs ...
Thank you Hollinger for your great articles. Do you think Houston can beat Portland without home court?
Flattery will get you everywhere. I think Houston is the third-best team in the West; too bad for them they're in the same bracket as Nos. 1 and 2. Rockets match up very well against the Blazers but that's a very tough building they're going into and the Rockets' place just isn't that intimidating (sorry, just the messenger) ... so that's why I'm taking Blazers in 6.
Hollinger, you think it's about time you start including the Dallas Mavericks in your columns? You haven't given them 1/3 of the coverage of Utah or New Orleans, two teams the Mavs jumped in their ascent to the 6 hole.
Dallas has played extremely well over the final weeks of the season and I do think they will upset San Antonio in this series -- they got the absolutely perfect match-up for them thanks to the Hornets' mind-melt at the end of regulation last night.
John, you've been great this year. With Hedo hurt and Garnett now out, can anyone in the East stop LBJ & Co.??
Many thanks. I think Hedo will be back at full strength by the conference finals, so I don't see that as a big factor. I think the bigger issue for Orlando is that the Cavs are just a little bit better. Probably goes 6 or 7 but I can't see Cleveland losing it.
# of losses combined between Cavs and Lakers thru conference finals.
I'll say 3 for Cleveland; L.A. could be 5 or 6. I think there's a real good chance Portland takes them the full seven.
Predictions for WCF? With the bracket set up like it is, I have to think Lakers-Spurs. San Antonio is still the best team out of that 2-3-6-7 side.
I'm going with Denver myself, though any of those four teams could come out of the mix. Nuggets have two big advantages -- first, obviously, is home court, but second is that San Antonio and New Orleans both played terribly over the final several weeks. I suspect they'll get Dallas in Round 2 and win that one in six or seven.
Hey John. Love your stuff. One question: Who's the biggest threat on the Boston roster against the Bulls now that KG is pretty much done for? Pierce? Rondo? Allen?
Pierce and Allen, definitely, with Allen the greater concern of the two because his match-up with Gordon is more favorable than Pierce's with Salmons. We could end up seeing a lot of Kirk Hinrich for defensive purposes.
Hah, Houston Third Best team in the west! but i thought we were the third best team in the west with our Third Seeding and exciting win last night! Hollinger has lost all faith in me. oh well, thats when im at my best! You need to stop drinking that HaterAid!
Fully healthy, the Spurs are clearly the No. 2 team in the West. In their present state? Sorry, I'm not buying. Spurs went 19-13 in their final 32 games; that's not elite material.
This isn't playoff talk but... Will the Wolves really have a new front office in place here soon? Or is this just a plot to get some local attention by Glen Taylor and he just promotes from within anyways?
Yes, you will, but there's talk that Fred Hoiberg and Jim Stack are among the front-runners. In other words, meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
How much of the Jazz's troubles do you think is a talent issue, and how much do you think is a coaching issue?
You left out how much I think is a chemistry issue, and how much I think is a health issue. Those were the two most prominent reasons they floundered down the stretch. I still have a healthy respect for their talent, but I can't seriously see them winning more than once against L.A.
Assuming Boston and Orlando win their first round matchups, can a Boston team without KG get by Orlando in the Conference Semis?
I think that's an awfully tough hill to climb. It's theoretically possible -- I saw them play Orlando in person twice and KG missed the first and was basically useless in the second, and the Celtics still nearly won both games. Home court will help them too. But that said, I think it will play out a little like Utah-Houston last year, with Boston being a gun short offensively.
John is the winner of the HOU-POR game have the only chance to beat the Lakers this year?
Realistically, yes, not just based on talent but also on matchups. Utah has nobody who can guard Kobe, Denver doesn't really either and they also struggle to defend Gasol. Portland and Houston both match up pretty well against both Kobe and the Lakers' size.
Haven't heard anyone mention the Hawks getting Marvin back for the postseason. The added depth will get us past the Heat... what about after that?
After that comes four games against Cleveland. Maybe five. Certainly not six. Miami is a little banged up right now, though they say everyone will be back on Sunday, and they had trouble scoring on the Hawks all three times they played a meaningful game.
Looks like we're gonna get LBJ Vs. Wade in the semis and then LBJ Vs. Kobe in the finals. Seems like a great opportunity for him to show us how worthy he is of his first MVP hardware over them both...
Not so fast on the LBJ vs. Wade. While the networks are dying to have this one, the Hawks match up really well against Miami and I think they'll prevail in seven. But if I walk out onto the court for that seventh game and see Bennett Salvatore, I might rethink my stance.
Hi John, can you throw us lottery-jockeys a line? Do the Raps trade Bosh this summer, and if so, what sort of return can we expect?
I don't think it makes sense unless they get an offer they can't refuse. For all the talk that Bosh is leaving, keep in mind the game is rigged in the Raptors' favor and that the declining economy translates to a declining salary cap, which means fewer teams with less dollars to fling at him.
A better question -- is it worth paying the max to keep him? Is he going to be that caliber of player going forward or is he too brittle? If the answer is no, perhaps that's another reason to consider a trade.
Hey John, now that the playoff matchups are set, which first round series do you want to attend and you think will be the most exciting? Thanks.
You're obviously buttering me up to say Portland-Houston, and I have to admit that looks great on paper. But Denver-New Orleans, Dallas-San Antonio, Boston-Chicago and Atlanta-Miami all look interesting to me. The only real clunkers I foresee are the two No. 1 seeds and the Orlando-Philadelphia series; let's just say Magic and Sixers fans are going to get very familiar with NBA TV over the next two weeks.
You think a trade of Bosh for Deng and Hinrich works for both teams...resign Gordan and draft a guard for the Bulls?
Clearly you're a Bulls fan --- I can't imagine Toronto doing that kind of damage to their cap in addition to trading away their best player. At a minimum, Tyrus Thomas would need to be involved, and possibly Noah too.
Hey John, will Oden/Durant ever achieve Bowie/Jordan status for the Blazers?
No chance of that, but it could end up more like Anthony/Wade status -- i.e, that the Blazers still end up with a pretty good player but miss out on a great one.
Jordan Farmar or Shannon Brown?
I can't even believe how pathetic Farmar looks now. Last year I thought he was a rising star, and now he can't even hold off Shannon freaking Brown from taking his minutes. Give Brown credit for sticking to it (he's on his fourth team) and finding a niche, but on talent there's no way Farmar should be getting outplayed by Brown.
The sun is out and thousands of people are gathering in Portland's living room. Rip City is Back!!! Does the looser officiating in the playoffs work in favor of Portland's big men, especially Oden? I'm thinking he'll be able to get a pass on the goofy ticky-tack fouls he commits.
The idea that there's looser officiating in playoff games is largely a myth for which I've seen little concrete evidence, so I doubt it will change much of anything for Oden.
I should be watching all these games from home right?
Let's just hope Ed Malloy and John Gobel are there with you.
John, I read with disdain your prediction about the Mavs winning in 6. I know we're not nearly as good without Manu, but you overestimated my tendonosis. You should know better than to doubt a first-ballot Hall of Famer!
Duncan averaged 20.8 points before the All-Star game, 16.0 after. He had his two worst shooting months in March and April, and his two worst assist months, and his two worst for blocks. If I'm underestimating his tendonosis, then tell me why he's been so far below his standard the last eight weeks.
Hollinger, what if Houston, San Antonio, and N.O. all win their matchups. Which team should i worry about most if each of those teams are coming together at the right time?
Cleveland. I don't think any of these three has much of a shot of knocking off L.A., though Houston at least matches up well with Yao on Bynum and Artest/Battier on Kobe.
John, I'm saddened to see that you believe that I cannot take the Hawks. While I disagree with you that Lebron is better this season, you have to admit that I've been playing on a level that FAR exceeds anyone on the Hawks. Between me and my boy, Beasley, we got this covered!
Wade is far better than anyone on the Hawks, but 2 through 7 the Hawks are better at every spot, and Atlanta has contained Wade every time they've played by switching all the screen and rolls and forcing him to shoot jumpers over Smith or Horford.
Hi John, any reason to think it won't be a Lakers vs Cavs final?
That's certainly the way to bet, though I suppose you could make an argument for Portland-Orlando. Those are really the only four teams I can see making the Finals at this point. Maybe Denver, just because of their bracket. But it's a far cry from last year when you could make a case for 8-10 teams.
John, remember in 2006 during the regular season when I had a foot problem and everyone told me I was going downhill? But then I dominated during the playoffs!
Big difference -- Spurs played much better down the stretch that year, even with Duncan's foot problem. And in the end, they still lost to Dallas, remember?
Was last nights blowout of the Nuggets real or did we not care after finding out that Houston lost? Kinda scary....
It was a combination. That was going to be a brutal game no matter what, but the Nuggies probably lost some motivation too once they knew the Rockets score. Here's what worries me if I'm a Nuggets fan -- Melo went 3-for-18 and looked bad doing it. Gotta get him right to make a deep run.
Who wins if it comes down to LA and CLE in the finals?
I think it will, and I think Cleveland will win, but I think they'll need all seven games and a big lift from the fans at the Q to get over the hump. The silver lining to what shapes up as a not terribly dramatic postseason is that the Finals could be off the charts.
You really think a team with a sub 500 road record like Portland can make it to the Finals when they would have to play 2 of the 3 series in the West on the road?
Well, 20-21 is the same as Houston's, and one game off Denver and New Orleans, so it's not that unusual. Obviously winning in L.A. once and perhaps twice is a huge, huge obstacle, but keep in mind that there's a good chance part of the reason the Blazers' home-road split is so wide is because their geographic isolation makes for some ugly road trips (both for them and opponents).
Is the best news for the Sixers right now that this series will be over quickly?
Probably the best news for Rick Kamla and Fred Carter too. Only silver lining I see for Philly is that Orlando can be turnover-prone, and Philly can turn those mistakes into easy baskets as well as anyone.
Non playoff question, obviously b/c it is a Warrior question...would Kirk Hinrich be a good fit at pg for them? He can guard the 2, shots well and is not a ball hog like everybody else on that team.
Sure, he'd fit, and since he has a bad contract I'm sure the Warriors are trying to acquire him at this very moment. Bigger question is what they can dangle that would tempt Chicago -- I don't think they want Crawford back, for instance.
Any chance the Hornets can knock off the Nuggs? As a Hornets fan, I'm having nightmares of Denver grabbing about 85% of available rebounds.
Hornets have a chance, but they need Chandler to be reasonably healthy and somewhat resemble the guy from last year, and they need to avoid fouls so they can play their reserves as little as humanly possible.
Why is San Antnio #3, it should be Portland since they won the season series. See last year's standings and you'll see what I mean. Utah, though divison winner, was number 4. Portland should be number 3 and play Dallas. And be out of the Lakers bracket.
They changed the rules this year, so that a division winner automatically wins the tie-breaker over a non-division winner. Basically, they sat around brainstorming ways to make winning the division not be completely worthless, and this is what they came up with.
You see where Simmons mentioned that the Mavs' best lineup had been Kidd-Terry-Howard-Dirk-Bass, but that it had only been used for 123 minutes until last night? That was the lineup that won Dallas the game last night! Is Carlisle a Simmons reader?
Well, there's something funky in that 82games info -- it says they've played together 140 minutes, but it's also their fourth-most common lineup combination. So it's not like they're shying away from it. One thing about that pairing -- it's makes for a pretty weak defense up front, so he does have to pick his spots with it.
I'm in a pool at work where we have to pick 5 teams whose seeds add up to at least 17. I'm going with LA and Cleveland obviously, which leaves me three teams whose seeds add up to 15. Which three teams would you choose?
Orlando (3), Dallas (6), and Chicago (7)
If Pau Gasol retired tomorrow, would the Lakers still be favored to beat Utah?
Replace "Pau Gasol" with "Carlos Boozer" and it might make an even better question.
dallas houston portland to answer taht question there
That's another way to do it, yes.
What are the Mavs strengths against the Spurs? Can Kidd stop Parker? Duncan's knees should be okay with the time off between games. That was playoff Timmy you saw in the overtime last night.
Kidd isn't going to be guarding Parker, it's going to be Terry and Barea most of the time. Wright will likely start the game against him.
john get your math right, 3 + 6 + 7 = 16 and not 15
Read the rules -- can be more, just not less.
Why does everyone think the Bulls should just give Hinrich away? He was once second team all-defense. Please explain why his asking price is so low.
His contract -- too much money for too many years in today's market. So a team isn't getting good value on their cap dollar with him.
How big was Bass's D on Yao last night? Can Portland employ a similar method and perhaps put a smaller player on Yao?
Much different match-up -- Portland will put Joel Przybilla or Greg Oden on him, with an occasional cameo by LaMarcus Aldridge. Blazers probably will try to front him a lot, since that's what nearly everyone does vs. Yao, though Oden may play behind.
Should the inability of the Lakers to win in Portland be a cause of concern or do you throw away regular season success, or lack thereof, in the playoffs?
I don't totally discard it, but I think people can overweight it too -- any time you talk about head to head, you're looking at small sample sizes and asymmetric travel situations, so you have take everything with a grain of salt.
If the Magic are going to lose to Philadelphia, is it more likely because Turkoglu is hurt and can't contain AI, or is it because Andre Miller can torch the PG's.
Rafer and AJ are pretty good match-ups against Miller -- he likes to post up small PGs but those two can stand him up pretty well. I think if Miller does damage in this series it will be in transition off Orlando turnovers.
Kidd isn't going to be guarding Parker, it's going to be Terry and BAREA most of the time. Wright will likely start the game against him. LOL! BAREA trying to stop TP! Keep pipe dreaming John, can't wait till you eat crow...
Parker is a serious match-up problem for the Mavs -- quick guards have been all season. I'm just pointing out that he's unlikely to see much of Kidd.
Is this the most exciting time of the year for you?
Can't decide between this and opening day. But the nice thing about the playoffs is that with fewer games, we can analyze everything in much greater detail.
What would be your dream series to watch in each of the conference finals?? and who would you like to see go through ???
From a travel perspective, it's tough to top the thought of Denver-Portland -- my two favorites Western Conference cities now that Seattle and Vancouver are off the map. In the East, I still would love to see a fully healthy Boston team play Cleveland, but I guess we probably won't see that.
With two Franchise Players (one being an all-time legend), a good defense, and a great coach....not saying it's the most likely scenario, but we're a bit better off than most of you think, right?
Here's the problem -- you have 1.5 franchise players right now, not 2, your D isn't as good as it was in any of the past ten seasons, and the role players are all 90.
Which non-playoff teams have the greatest chance of not just making the playoffs next year but maybe make a to 4 or 5 seed?
Throwing one final bone out the lottery teams -- I think you have to look to the East for this, where moving into the top five will be much easier, and I think you have to look hard at Washington, who will have Arenas, a lottery pick and an excellent coach next year.
My, but those Spurs fans are feisty for a team that spent this week beating the Kings on an official's screw-up and getting taken to overtime at home in a must-win game by the 7 seed.
That's kind of why I'm not picking them in Round 1 -- they just haven't looked good at all over these past few weeks.
why would you rather see denver or portland reach the finals instead of seeing a kobe vs. lebron finals?
I said from a travel perspective, not a basketball perspective. Obviously L.A.-Cleveland is the Finals everyone wants to see.
Folks, that's all the time I have, but we'll do this again next week from a location still to be determined. Thanks again for all the great questions and enjoy the games.