NBA Playoff Odds and Ends

By Jerald L. Hoover
Updated: May 3, 2007

Playoffs NEW YORK — The Bulls losing their last game of the season turned out to be quite all right after all. Chicago failed to reach their goal of 50 wins, which would have been a first since the Jordan era.

The luck of the draw drew them a date with the reigning NBA champion Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs. So much for respecting your elders, the Bulls with the fresher and quicker legs ran the Heat into oblivion with a four game sweep.

You almost knew the Bulls were up for the challenge when the Heat spotted them 40 points but ran out of time during the ring ceremony game at the start of the season.

The Bulls are a tough minded and talented bunch led by future All-Stars Ben Gordon and Luol Deng.

Coach Scott Skiles isn’t a bad general either.

Beware of Ben Gordon and the No. 3. Gordon thus far has won a high school championship in his junior year.

He won an NCAA Championship in his junior year and he’s now in his third year as his team is set to take on a Detroit Pistons team with defensive stalwart Ben Wallace on his side.

Gordon was also drafted third behind Dwight Howard and Emeka Okafor. By the way, he should have also been named Rookie of the Year in conjunction to his winning the Sixth Man of the Year award; a first for a rookie winning such an honor.

The Orlando Magic went poof into the night at the hands of the veteran laden Pistons. Detroit’s real test comes next. Orlando seems to be a team on the rise however.

Although Grant Hill is said to be leaning toward retirement, they have a ton of cap space at the ready to pounce on an official lights out scorer in Seattle’s Rashard Lewis for instance.

The San Antonio Spurs took care of the Denver Nuggets in five games. Although the games were highly competitive and nailbiting, San Antonio’s commitment to defense and details along with Tim “The Big Fundamental” Duncan proved to be just a bit too much.

I still don’t understand why more players don’t just learn to shoot off the backboard, but master it.

It’s akin to shooting a lay-up from up close no matter how far away from the basket you are.

But, whoa to the Western Conference next year as the Mile High Boys will have both Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson for a full year.

Barring any unforeseen injuries to key players, i.e. Marcus Camby (who’s been injury-prone his entire career) or a trade request from core personnel, the Nuggets (pardon the pun) can run things.

The Houston Rockets nearly lost at home the other night to the Utah Jazz which would have put then down 3-2 going back to Utah.

Every team thus far has done their thing on their home court.

Tracy McGrady has been spectacular as well as Yao Ming for the most part for the Rockets.

Utah’s All-Star Carlos Boozer has been a marvel both in scoring and in his yard work (i.e., rebounding the baskeball).

Watch out for Boozer’s point man, Deron Williams.

He’s Jason Kidd with a better jumpshot.

Williams can stroke and make jumpers at critical points in a game and is unflappable on the defensive side ala Kidd as well.

The Washington Wizards, just like the Magic, disappeared from the playoffs in four games as the LeBron-led Cavaliers took care of business. The sweep was a postseason first the Cleveland franchise.

But, it should be pointed out that the Wizards suffered from the injury bug in the worst way. Not only did they lose Antawn Jamison for a long stretch of the season but, when he comes back, they lose undoubtedly two of the teams best players in All-World Gilbert (Agent Zero) Arenas and newly crowned All-star Caron Butler.

Talk about a stroke of bad luck. And I don’t believe in luck but, wow!

The Suns gave the Los Angeles Lakers fits at each and every turn before ending the series in five games.

Two-time MVP Steve Nash dished out 23 dimes in Game Four and looked to hardly be breaking a sweat.

Amare Stoudamire has regained his form and looks like a beast even on the defensive end.

Although not a seven-footer, not many guards can sashay down the lane with weak layups without it getting sent back for a fast break going the other way.

Poor Kobe Bryant, huh? Well, as Knicks’ coach Isiah Thomas says, “This is a very unforgiving league.”

In other words, no other teams are going to be crying over the state of the Lakers.

The Nets’ Jason Kidd must’ve found the fountain of youth with the way he’s been playing.

Sure the Toronto Raptors aren’t the second coming of the Boston Celtics of the 1980’s, but they are professional ballplayers. That being said, why is Kidd averaging a triple double against them?

Former Raptor and Toronto No. 1 Public Enemy, Vince Carter has been wicked in New Jersey, but dreadful in Canada. Toronto’s Chris Bosh is playing like his first time in playoff competition; but he will learn and get better.

And when he does don’t be surprised if an Eastern Conference champion comes from up north in a few years.

The NBA upset special of the century is brewring as the Golden State Warriors are giving the reigning Western Conference Champion Dallas Mavericks the business.

Warrior coach Don Nelson, who practically raised Dirk Nowitzki from a pup so to speak, knows his likes and dislikes as well as anybody. The Baron Davis gang from the Bay Area is faster and far more explosive than the Mavs.

And of course the hatred between Nelson and Mav owner Mark Cuban is well documented. The series headed back to Cali Thursday night as Dirk bailed out his struggling bunch with timely 3-point shots, a block and key rebounds in Game Five.

In other words, he finally showed up when it counted the most.

However, the Mavs are still facing elimination. Dallas is looking to avoid being the first team with a 67-win season to be bounced from the playoffs by an eighth seed.

But, stay tuned, that still might very well happen; at least it didn’t happen on his home court.