Play ball! After 82 regular-season games per team that started last October 29, the Sweet Sixteen of the NBA have been selected. It’s the Playoffs, beginning today! It’s two-months-long and eight of the best squads per division (East and West) have advanced. It’s a best-of-seven series per contest. The playoff format is 2-2-1-1-1. This means that games 1, 2, 5 and 7 go to the one with the home-court advantage. And, starting this season, this format (not 2-3-2) will also be used for the NBA Finals.
Can Miami win three in a row? Who will be upset in Round 1? In the KD vs. LBJ contest for the MVP crown, who wins?
I asked Rep. Gerald Anthony “Samsam” Gullas, the former team manager of the UV Green Lancers, for his thoughts. Here’s our Q & A:
What surprised you the most with the NBA’s top 16? “Charlotte Bobcats and Al Jefferson finally playing to his true potential. He finally found a team that he truly fits in. Too bad they’ve got to face the defending champs in the 1st round. New York’s bad record also surprised me. They were one of the top seeds in the East last year and were prepared to make a splash this year. It just never worked out for the Knicks. Carmelo should go the Bulls.”
Who are strongest entering the playoffs? “Miami heat. LeBron will always be a different player when it’s the playoffs. It seems like with every playoff series LeBron’s legacy will always be on the line. He’s just that good that everyone believes he will win the Larry O Brien trophy every year and a Heat exit will be a failure on his part. The Spurs are very strong contenders as well. I believe with great coaching, teamwork and great star play from Parker, Duncan and Ginobli, it’s OKC or Spurs out West.”
What do you think of the first round match-ups; which ones will be the most exciting? “I love great 1on1 match-ups especially GSW and LAC. That’s two of the best point guards of the league going at it in the first round of the playoffs. Houston and Portland seems like a very good matchup as well. Those teams are complete and play with the same mentality. They are well coached and both possess great 1-2 punches. Harden and Howard vs Aldridge and Lillard.”
Predictions? “East is an Indiana-Heat final with Heat winning in six games. They have to because if it’s game 7 on Indiana’s home floor. I don’t like their chances.”
Who are the dark-horse teams? “In the East don’t count out the Chicago Bulls. They are very good defensively and when the game starts to slow down like it does in the playoffs, I believe Chicago even without Derick Rose will give the Heat and Pacers a run for their money.”
MVP: looks like Durant has it locked up? “Locked up, no doubt. He was definitely the most valuable player for his team in the regular season. He carried the load with Westbrook out. Scoring has gone up. Assists are up. And rebounds are up. While shooting close to 50-40-90 from the field.”
What are Miami’s chances to three-peat? They’ve had the ‘worst’ regular season record compared to the previous two years. “I was disappointed that Miami didn’t lock up that number 1 seed. I hope it won’t haunt them if ever they face pacers and the series reaches game 7. But I will never count out a team that holds the best player in the planet. Heat will win against OKC or Spurs in seven or 6.”
For me, I’d always been a star-player fan. When Michael Jordan ruled the air, I was a Bulls follower. When LeBron arrived, I rooted for the Ohio-native. And, the past three years, it’s been Miami. Come June 5th when the NBA Finals begin, I’m hoping for a mano-a-mano face-off between Kevin Durant and LeBron James.