It's playoff time. Always my favorite time of the year. And despite Isiah Thomas' firing by the New York Knicks -- which left me working about 13 hours non-stop on every-and-all things ESPN, it personified Heaven for me. Being a part of the action. Reporting. Getting my information from the sources themselves, then pontificating in a fashion I enjoy best, which is to say straight-forward, informative and in-your-face.
I even took time out to have some fun, joking around with my colleague, Jalen Rose, about the Toronto Raptors' playoff series vs. the Orlando Magic on ESPN's NBA Shootaround show. When Jalen talked about Bosh needing to toughen up, I said, "It's too late for all of that. He's Manute Bol with short dreds" -- alluding to Bosh' slim physique. That's all I was doing. I swear.
Unfortunately, Bosh took it personally and, from what I've heard (I haven't seen it yet) called me out on his website.
For the record, I'll take whatever he says. I'm a genuine fan of Chris Bosh, from my personal interaction with him to all the wonderful things I've heard about him from coach Sam Mitchell and President/GM Bryan Colangelo. I think he's a phenonmenal young player and one of the most humble people I've ever known in the NBA. I was just having fun and didn't mean to offend him in anyway.
Now get over it and let's get back to talking about the playoffs.
I'll take it series-by-series, keep it real simple, and get into specifics as the playoffs progress.
EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFFS
Celtics vs. Hawks: This series ends in 4 games.
*Boston has the talent, experience and the common sense to avoid talking trash to a superior foe, which is more than anyone can say about Josh Childress and Josh Smith. Their vows about "making history" officially goes down as the dumbest comments of the postseason.
Pistons vs. Sixers: Pistons in 5
*Detroit is too focused, too motivated and much too tired of watching others play in the NBA Finals. Whether they get there or not is irrelevant at this time. Just know Philadelphia won't do a thing to stop them, other than having one good night.
Magic vs. Raptors: Magic in 7
*This will be a highly competitive series. Toronto has a lot of skilled players, although they are a bit too soft for comfort. Problem: They don't have Dwight Howard, nor do they have home-court advantage.
Wizards vs. Cavs: Wizards in 6
*LeBron...LeBron...LeBron. I'm just not feeling it this year. Of course, it's not because of him. I'm just not sold on the idea that Ben Wallace, Joe Smith and Wally Szczerbiak have gelled well enough yet.
Plus, I truly believe Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison can be lethal, especially against the Cavs. And don't sleep on Brendan Haywood. If he gives you anything in this series, it's enough.
WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFFS
Lakers vs. Nuggets: Lakers in 7
*Based on the way the Nuggets have played defense for a majority of this season, they don't deserve the benefit of anyone assuming they'll last 7 games vs. the Lakers. But when you have Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony averaging 53 points per game, how can you not? Still, Kobe is Kobe. Pau Gasol has helped elevate everyone, and the Lakers are just a more disciplined bunch. Besides, we all know where I want to be once June rolls around.
Hornets vs Mavs: Mavs in 6
*Chris Paul is my runner-up for league-MVP honors. Byron Scott is my runner-up for Coach-of-the-Year honors, and New Orleans has had a great year. But they're still young and unproven, totally reliant on perimeter shots, and the Mavs -- especially with the arrival of Jason Kidd -- should be too experienced to fall to these Hornets this year.
Spurs vs. Suns: Spurs in 7
*Once upon a time, it was practically a religion to bet on Shaq. That was my rule: never bet against the Big Fella. But this is a different day. The Spurs, with all their offensive problems, can D-up anybody. They still have Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. And a Game 7 would be on their home floor. If I'm wrong, I won't cry about it, but I've got to pick San Antonio here.
Jazz vs. Rockets: Jazz in 6
*I'm convinced some kind of black cat is following Tracy McGrady around. There's no other explanation for all the bad luck he's experienced throughout his career, and there's no other excuse as to why his bonafide superstar talents have never been displayed anywhere beyond the first round of the playoffs. Yet, despite Utah's atrocious road record, Houston doesn't have Yao Ming, which means they, virtually, have no chance. So McGrady's season will end in April. Again!