Having spent the past couple of blogs whinging more than Ricky Stuart in a post match press conference, this article will instead focus on one of the most exciting NBA seasons since Michael Jordan retired. Unfortunately it seems a majority of Australian public's knowledge of basketball is limited to:
- The only sport that tall people can play apparently. Number of times I have heard the words 'wow you are really tall do you play basketball?', 10242. And counting.
- The bald guy on that E! show married to the ugly Kardashian sister plays it.
With that in mind, the following NBA predictions will be made by comparing the remaining playoff teams to current Australian sporting sides.
San Antonio Spurs (#1) vs Memphis Grizzlies (#8)
Current Series Score: 1-1
Australian Spurs: NSW Waratahs - always over-hyped by local media, find ways to win ugly in the regular season, unlikely to threaten in the playoffs.
Australian Grizzlies: A hybrid team featuring the likes of Michael Ennis, Kevin Muscat, Campbell Brown, Paul Gallen and Andrew Symonds - a sizeable, tough side that loves a sledge and has the irrational confidence to knock anyone off on a given day.
Player to watch: Zach Randolph (Grizzlies) - a 6'9, 260lb cross between Barry Hall, Todd Carney, Ben Cousins and that Kiwi bloke from Souths who decked Jason Taylor during Mad Monday celebrations. Who doesn't love watching a loose cannon?
Prediction: Memphis to cause a huge upset in 7 games, Sportsbet to pay out $8 for a certain punter.
Los Angeles Lakers (#2) vs New Orleans Hornets (#7)
Current Series Score: 2-1
Australian Lakers: The Victorian Bushrangers - probably the best team in the competition provided all players are available for selection, however there are some doubts that aging legs will spell an end to their recent dominance.
Australian Hornets: The Parramatta Eels - a one man team, only the Hornets' man Chris Paul is much tougher, more consistent, less selfish and tries about fifteen times harder than Jarryd Hayne. Probably would fight with his fists, too.
Player to watch: Paul (Hornets), the Jonathan Thurston of the NBA. Destroyed the Lakers in game 1 with 33 points, seven rebounds and 14 assists, all on one leg.
Prediction: Lakers to be too strong across the court and win in 6.
Dallas Mavericks (#3) vs Portland Trail Blazers (#6)
Current Series Score: 2-1
Australian Mavericks: Hawthorn Hawks - generally considered the underachievers of the league. Have been eliminated in the first round in three of the past four years.
Australian Trail Blazers: Brisbane Broncos - quality roster on paper, plenty of size and strength in defense, and play at home in-front of the most raucous crowd in the comp.
Player to watch: Dirk Nowitzki (Mavericks) - runs a little like Forrest Gump with leg braces, but is the league's best clutch scorer, and is arguably more valuable to the Mavs than any other player in any team.
Prediction: Portland in 7 - Dirk may be the best player on the court, but Portland probably have the next best four and will be too hard to beat at home.
Oklahoma City Thunder (#4) vs Denver Nuggets (#5)
Current Series Score: 2-0
Australian Thunder: Queensland Reds - Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have the flair and ability to score plenty of points like Quade Cooper and Will Genia, while Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins provide toughness and defense that is crucial to winning big games. (On a related note, how good has the Reds' defense and scrum been this year!? Not since the Eales era has an an Australian scrum dominated those from South Africa and New Zealand.)
Australian Nuggets: Couldn't think of one, but the Nuggets are most like the prison basketball team from The Longest Yard. They are the most tattooed team in the league, and their high tempo game could easily translate to a dusty outdoor court with chains for nets, hard fouls and onlooking inmates wagering cigarettes and vigorously chest thumping after every alley-oop.
Player to watch: Durant (Thunder), whose orangutan like arms propelled him to the NBA scoring title for the second consecutive year.
Prediction: OKC to win in 6 and go one step further to the Conference title and my 10 to 1 payout.
Chicago Bulls (#1) vs Indiana Pacers (#8)
Current Series Score: 3-0
Australian Bulls: Collingwood - great mix of youth and experience, best defensive record in the competition and have the attacking players to post huge scores.
Australian Pacers: Newcastle Knights - one of those teams that drifts in and out of the playoffs, and is unlikely to progress any further than the first round.
Player to watch: Derrick Rose (Bulls) - the raging MVP favourite, and hopefully won't get screwed out of that title by moronic voters like Dane Swan was at last years Brownlow. Is averaging 33-6-5 in these playoffs.
Prediction: Gordon Tallis = Chicago, Brett Hodgson = Pacers. Chicago in 4.
Miami Heat (#2) vs Philadelphia 76ers (#7)
Current Series Score: 3-0
Australian Heat: Melbourne Storm, only if Cam Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater were forced to play with over-hyped park footballers and washed up veterans. Like the Storm with the salary cap scandal, the Heat are universally despised after The Decision, and rely way too much on Lebron, Dwyane Wade and to a lesser extent, Chris Bosh. Received a lucky draw for the playoffs by drawing the 76ers instead of the Knicks, who match up with the Heat much better on paper.
Australian 76ers: Doesn't matter. Anthony Watts has a better chance becoming the next ambassador for Women in League than the 76ers have of progressing.
Player to watch: Wade (Heat) - arguably a better crunch time scorer than Lebron, and also he can do this.
Prediction: Miami to be far too strong in 4.
Boston Celtics (#3) vs New York Knicks (#6)
Current Series Score: 3-0
Australian Celtics: After the Perkins trade, more of a poor man's St George Illawarra Dragons - foundation built on tough defense, but often has trouble scoring points. Watching Rondo and the post Perkins Celtics is like watching Entourage without Turtle - he may only be the fifth best guy in the show, but he gives the group an identity and without him, Vince would be devastated and sulk around like when Mandy Moore dumped him in Season 2.
Australian Knicks: Wests Tigers - entertaining at times, led by two quality attacking players (Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire), but offer little in defense and are lacking depth in the roster.
Player to watch: Carmelo Anthony (Knicks) - a one man show in Game 2 with a mammoth 42-17-6.
Prediction: Celtics in 5, Kevin Garnett (the Nathan Hindmarsh of basketball) to be too strong defensively for Amar'e to be effective. Huge round two match up between the Heat and the Celtics, with the result riding on the fitness of injured Celtic Shaquille O'Neal.
Orlando Magic (#4) vs Atlanta Falcons (#5)
Current Series Score: 1-2
Australian Magic: Fremantle Dockers - consistent team with a good mix of youth and experience, but rely too heavily on their big man (Aaron Sandilands for Freo, Dwight Howard for Orlando).
Australian Falcons: Sydney FC - pay an unworthy 'franchise player' (Joe Johnson) way too much money, but have a decent all round squad that is capable of upsets.
Player to watch: Howard (Magic) - the most dominant player in the NBA when he feels like it (which isn't always the case). Averaged a ridiculous 40-19 in the first two games, and the hopes of the Magic rests on his obscenely broad shoulders.
Prediction: Orlando to scrape home in 7, only to be smoked by the rampaging Bulls in Round 2.
Stick with these tips and you will be abseiling from your wallet in no time.