This is an open thread for the NBA Playoffs, including the two Game 7s this Sunday and the upcoming Conference Finals. All NBA fans rec this so it stays up for the next two weeks of games.
Houston-LA: All odds are the Lakers win Game 7 by 35 and move on to play Denver. Despite the two blowout losses in Houston I'm still not terribly concerned that the Lakers will lose...yet. They win the games they need to win and then proceed to not show up for lose the rest.
Why the Lakers decided it was a good idea to take jump shot after jump shot with 7 footers Gasol and Bynum having a four to six inch height advantage on Luis Scola, Chuck Hayes and Carl Landry is beyond me. Derek Fisher not hitting 3s is acceptable; taking SEVEN of them is not. Kobe tried to play hero again Thursday, and came up short. I'm not even an LA fan (furthest from it), and even I'm pissed at the way they play. Their effort is not there, and you wonder if it's ever going to show up.
This is a lovable, scrappy Rockets team (Aaron Brooks and his fine red suit are doing wonders, Battier's defense has kept Kobe at bay for three of the six games, Hayes has been totally underrated as LeonPowe originally stated), but it's doubtful they can translate their great efforts to a winner-take-all Game 7. Artest is a great defender and has kept Lamar Odom from imposing his will, but he balances that out with some questionable shot selection and overdribbling on offense. Houston played great basketball in the first half of Game 6 and still nearly blew it in the third quarter with LA playing like absolute crap for the majority of the game (down 17-1, never taking a lead).
If LA comes out weak though...
Boston-Orlando: This series should be over. The Magic should have won at least one of Games 4 and 5 (certainly Game 5, an epic gag this side of my C-Webb's Kings). Boston should have closed things out tonight. But each team's inability to finish off a team when they're down cancels out the other, and here we are at Game 7. Champs don't go out easy.
Dwight Howard's post game is lamentable; Kendrick Perkins has battled him to a standstill. JJ Redick may be playing good defense on Ray Allen, but the Dukie should be sent to prison for continuing to clang 3s as a starter. Paul Pierce has been on and off, as has Rondo (although there are still flashes of brilliance). Hedo looks done, Alston is still too streetball. No one on Boston has played consistently well (and I doubt they'll play particularly well the rest of the Playoffs), but neither has Orlando (except for maybe Rashard Lewis).
Although this series hasn't been played very well, it's been exceptionally dramatic, and I can't imagine Game 7 disappointing.
Denver: Things did not end well for Dallas, despite Dirk mad balling against Melo and Josh Howard cringing along on two bad ankles. Jason Kidd has forks sticking out of his back (he was passing up LAYUPS), JR Smith and Kenyon Martin aren't playing like headcases, Birdman has suddenly become a redemption story (still not sure if he isn't doping it up), and Carmelo has finally evolved into that pure scorer that most basketball people saw as his ultimate destiny in the league. This team is dangerous and not to be overlooked next round.
Here's a great article on Chauncey Billups, which mentions how he thought Todd Bozeman was a sleezeball. He was as smart back then as he is right now.
Cleveland: Cruising to the Finals. Neither of those two schizo East teams should present much of a challenge in the last round. Maybe they'll lose once, maybe twice. But if Lebron is going to face a challenge it'll come from the West.