Scrappin’ [Posted 4/25/14 on Sportsblog.com]

If you are the type of person who likes seeing hard fouls, contested layups and massively uncomfortable stare downs, then the NBA playoffs is for you. If you haven’t noticed, things have turned up a notch The past week has given us a couple of weirdly entertaining series out east, a Pacers teams that looks on the verge of an epic seasonal collapse, a youthful resurgence in Rip City, and GM’s dropping 25,000 dollar expletives.

As we get closer to the swing games of the first round series, expect the intensity to pick up. I’ve watched judiciously, easing into this two month gauntlet of masculinity and bravado, but the weight of each game is getting heavier and even the Eastern Conference is becoming just interesting enough to at least tune into the 4th quarter. The Feds seized my favorite streaming site so now I’m catching them wherever I can; pool halls, pizza joints, wing bars, and frat boys’ open windows. It’s about to get krunk, and if my roommates thought I was loud during the regular season,look out!!!!!!!! Thanks to Kevin Durant and Kendrick Perkins, I’ve already alienated myself with all the screaming I was doing. The people who live on my floor hate me.

Random thoughts from the first round:

I may have been wrong about the Eastern Conference but only slightly. From everything I’ve heard, the Pacers-Hawks series has been ugly. I’ve been tracking it on ESPN, and whatever apps you can get score updates, and I haven’t gotten the impression that its something that I’m missing out on. The same can be said about the Bobcats-Heat. If I wanted to see beat downs, I’d go on bumfights.com or look up Kimbo Slice videos. Yawn.

The Bulls-Wizards match up has been intriguing. I’ve watched crunch time of both games and the Wizards have been taking it to the Bulls down the stretch. I’m not the biggest fan of Bill Simmons by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ll give credit where its due. He said Washington would beat the Bulls before the series started. Simmons stated that the back court match up would be the difference in the series and he was right. Chicago has no real answer for Bradley Beal and John Wall when it matters most. Nene has played pretty well (I didn’t realize he was such a good passer) and the rest of the cast has been just good enough. Both games could have gone either way, but Chicago is going to have a tough time climbing out of the hole that’s been dug for them. They just don’t have enough playmakers.

The off the court theatrics in the Toronto-Brooklyn series has been more compelling to me than the on court product (Paul Pierce’s “This is why they brought me here” was exactly why he’s one of the most beloved Jayhawks of all time). Between that, GM of Toronto’s “F%$^ Brooklyn” and this weird Jay-Z- Drake “beef” (which I’m almost convinced is a publicity stunt for an upcoming duet album “Degrassi Heights”), the media has made this series into “New York vs. New York Lite, the battle for Metropolis” narrative.

While I’m talking about this, there are a couple weird things I think about this so called “beef”. Drake calling anything anyone’s raps “corny” is laughable, and for him to pretend like Toronto is this blue collar city, and the Raptors are a team for the “people” is equally ridiculous. I’ve been to Toronto. Its about as metropolitan of a city as you’ll find in North America, and other Canadians hate Toronto. Everyone please stop it. That shit is too silly.

Somehow I’ve managed to miss both Spurs-Mavs games, but luckily there haven’t been any dick punches to upstage the actual play on the court. With Dallas winning game 2 in San Antonio, it guarantees there will at least be a game 5. This will probably be when I decide to finally jump in and watch Dirk vs. Tim, Pops vs. Carlisle, and Monta vs. the WORLD.

Oklahoma City may have possibly gotten the worst draw of the field. Memphis has always been a bad match up for them, because of how physical they play on defense, and how slow they play on offense. Oklahoma City beats most teams by their athleticism and most teams try to out run them. Memphis likes to body up KD with Tony Allen and company, and make OKC grind out their wins. It took OKC 7 games to dispose of the Grizz two years ago on their Finals run. Last year with no Westbrook, it was clear they were dead in the water. This year, with OKC fans cringing every time Westbrook hits the deck (they are such a different squad without Russ), it seems like even if the Thunder escape this round, that they may be too tired to advance much deeper than past years. Memphis has a way of wearing down their opponents.

Watching Westbrook get his kneecap worked on put into perspective how flaky life can be. 2 years ago, it seemed like the Thunder were on the brink of a dynasty, and just like that Harden is leading a team of floppers down in Houston, and Westbrook is one nasty spill away from being this generation’s Ron Harper. It just goes to show that you never know how things are going to be from year to year. Memphis was the one team that I didn’t want to get in because they made me nervous (well that and Phoenix was a bit more entertaining), and now that they are healthy again, they are going to make teams work to close them out. It won’t be pretty.

As for this Dubs-Clips series, I didn’t realize David Lee was going to be healthy enough to play this series (he’s such an underrated passer), but even with Lee it is still hard for me to believe the Warriors have the juice to win this thing. There was a moment when I realized that I used to watch Mark Jackson and Glen “Doc” Rivers when they were playing for Indiana and New York, and how I was a fan of both of them during their league days. I am starting to think that despite Mark Jackson’s oratory skills, he is lacking in the X’s and O’s department. His in-game decisions have been trumped again and again by the Doc. Jackson will always have a job in the league because he is a player’s coach (much like Scotty Brooks) but some of his strategic decisions have been puzzling at best (again much like Scotty Brooks).

Have I mentioned that I don’t like the Clippers? They are some of the whiniest, dirtiest players assembled right now, west of Miami, Florida. Blake Griffin flops more than a mud shark shoved in a Zeppelin groupie’s……well let’s leave that alone. The point is there is always a little extra with the Clippers, and that was a foul by Chris Paul at the end of the game. That being said, you can’t play that poorly for 3 quarters and then expect to get bailed out the refs. My prediction is the next game will be the last game won by the Dubs in this series. I think the Clippers will win the next two, of course game 6 might be another Oracle classic.

Let’s see how it all shakes out.

See ya next week.

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