It’s Getting Real: Conference Final Preview
As that weird lady from The Hunger Games would say, “May the odds be ever in your favor!” Except this isn’t a bunch of children killing each other for no reason, it’s grown men bouncing a ball and putting it through a hole. There will be some battles though, these Conference Finals will get rough, rugged, and raw. One could compose an all-star team of badasses with the rosters of these four teams. The “All Back Alley Brick Squad,” as I have deemed them, is composed of Lance Stephenson, Tony Allen, Udonis Haslem, David West, and Zach Randolph. Those dudes simply give zero ____s. So, what’s going to happen? Let me lead you down the path of wisdom.
(1) Miami v. (3) Indiana
These two squads turned in a helluva series last year in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. For those who don’t remember, Lance Stephenson directed a vicious and extremely ill-advised “choke sign” at LeBron after playing zero minutes in that certain game. Juwan Howard didn’t take too kindly to the gesture, he threw his tennis-ball equipped walker out of the way and committed a hard foul against Lance later in the series, because that’s what respected veterans do in garbage time. Maybe Bill Cosby told him to do it. The Pacers actually led the series 2-1 at one point, but proceeded to blow it and lose in six games. That happened because LeBron went into Decepticon mode and turned the Heat up to 11. This year, the Pacers don’t have Danny Granger. But they do have Paul George, who has evolved into an all-star and all-around stud. Stephenson just took over and won game six against the Knicks. Yes, you read that correctly. Indy deserves some kind of award for developing Lance this far, because just about zero people thought it was possible. Roy Hibbert finally stopped playing like a gentle giant, as evidenced by his domination of the NY big men. David West has no qualms about elbowing your rib cage in. And George Hill is better than Mario Chalmers. But, obviously, the Heat have something that no one else in the galaxy has, LeBron Raymone James. He’s the best player in the NBA by a long shot and is on a mission to get his second ring in as many years. Wade looked hurt for the majority of the Bulls series, but then transformed into a whole nother being, as Kid Cudi would say. After a quick trip to the locker room in game five of the series, Wade came out with a “re-taped knee,” and pogo-sticked his way to a few nasty dunks as if it were 2006. If he stays playing that way, it’s over. I see the Pacers winning every home game that they have, which means this will go seven. But, the Heat will walk away victorious in game seven. Indiana has nearly zero depth and the Heat have plenty of it. Miami will tire out the Pacers with LeBron’s speed and its three-point barrage.
(2) San Antonio v. (5) Memphis
I wouldn’t be surprised if both teams came out in game one wearing steel toe boots and Kevlar vests, Ol’ Dirty Bastard style. This is a tough one to call, both teams are seasoned, whether it’s with Tex-Mex spices or BBQ dry rub. Tony Parker has been ballin’, as has Mike Conley. The point guard match up will carry enormous implications. Kawhi Leonard is a dangerous scoring threat, but Tony “First Team” Allen with be hounding him all series. Danny Green probably has the edge on Tayshaun Prince, but you never know what the former Piston has up his sleeve. Zach Randolph against Tim Duncan might as well be Jurassic Park 4, the two are established big men who will fight to the death for a layup. I’m going to say that Z-Bo has the slight edge in the series. And finally, Marc Gasol will take Tiago Splitter to foreign exchange school. It won’t be close. The benches are neck and neck, but depending on which Manu shows up, I think the Spurs have the slight edge. Although, Jerryd Bayless has proven to be reliable for Memphis. Ginobli is the X-Factor in the series, if he plays great in every game, the Spurs will win. However, history has proven that that doesn’t happen. As a result, I like the Grizzlies in six. It’s Memphis’ year in the West. Mike Conley’s coming-out party will continue against Tony Parker and he’ll etch his name into the top ten point guard list. Gasol will likely have a huge series as well, his ability to consistently knock down the mid-range jumper makes him nearly unguardable, not to mention he has the passing skills of a two-guard.
So, this means that the Heat and Grizz will face off in The Finals. It will be epic, but you’ll have to wait to get the down low from me on that. Because, even though it’s highly unlikely, I could be wrong.