Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Youth vs. Experience in the Playoffs
If you were to replace the mug of Dwight Howard with that of Dwayne Wade in this picture, you would have the 4 headliners left in the NBA Playoffs. In the East, Lebron and Dwight Howard will battle to see which youngster has got the next dominant team in the NBA. In the West, Kobe and Melo will face off to see which veteran (relatively speaking) team has got the chops to prove how the West was won (or fun). Much to the chagrin of the Nuggets and the Magic, I think that it will be King James and the Cavs facing off against Kobe and the Lakers for the NBA Title when all is said and done.
Despite the regular and post-season dominance by Cavs, they actually lost their season series to the Magic. However, Cleveland has been nearly unbeatable at home which gives them a huge advantage since they have the higher seed in this matchup. Moreover, King James looks like he is coming into his own as the premier player in the NBA. We are talking Jordan mode here. Which would make Zydrunas Ilgauskas the team's Luc Longley/Chris Dudley, Mo Williams the Steve Kerr/John Paxson and Anderson Varejao the Dennis Rodman. Also, the Magic looked very hit or miss last series against the undermanned Celtics. I seriously doubt that Stan Van Gundy is capable of getting this team to the Finals, especially against coach of the year Mike Brown. Look for the Cavs to lose a game, but not the series. Cavs in 5.
In the Western Conference, we are witnessing the "trade of the century" still pay dividends as the Billups and Melo led Nuggets present a serious threat to the Lakers. Everyone seems to be making a big deal out of how the Lakers struggled against the Rockets in the last series, but I don't think that it is as big of a concern as most. If anything, the Rockets might have provided a blueprint of how to beat the Lakers by being physical but that is it. Just because the Lakers didn't win each series by a sweep doesn't mean anything. The Western Conference is a lot deeper than the East and the lower ranked teams in the West are much tougher competition. This series should be a great one. Chauncey Billups will be trying to further the fact that he is the most underrated guard in NBA history, while Kobe is still trying to prove that he can win a title without Shaq. In the end, I think that this series will go 7 with the Lakers using home court advantage to capture the Western Conference again unfortunately. The finals will showcase the ultimate showdown of youth versus experience. Kobe and his rings versus Lebron, the heir to the throne.
Though it is usually "age before beauty", "substance over style" and "wisdom over youth", I see the Cavs winning the NBA Title this year. They do have NBA Finals experience, and Lebron James is ready to put the team on his back to win the title. Kobe will play the part of the villain again this year and lose another NBA Finals while Shaq comments about it on Twitter. I might actually watch some of these two series, and I'm hoping for some great competition.