Saturday, May 3, 2014

NBA hits the jackpot with Lucky 7's Saturday

I woke up earlier today and immediately peeked outside my window and to my surprise there was no snow on the ground.

After the last 48 hours of watching basketball on TNT and ESPN, I could have sworn it was Christmas morning.

In 2004, the NBA decided to extended the first round of the postseason from a best-of-five to a best-of-seven games series.

A decade later we the fans, finally get to reap the benefits of multiple game-seven match ups for the next two days.

Tonight there will be not one or two, but an historic triple-header of game-sevens. Never have we seen back-to-back-to-back deciding games when the series was tied at three a piece. Then to cap off a crazy 16 days of the NBA quarterfinals, tomorrow brings two more games to determine who will move on to the next round and keep their season alive and who will be ‘going fishing.’ The phrase ‘Win or go Home’ takes on a special meaning this weekend as we get to witness five game-sevens! Who could have predicted this?

Can Frank Vogel and the Pacers stay alive to face the hungry Washington Wizards? Or will the 37 win Hawks pull off the upset and we’ll have a youth vs. youth, a never before seen in NBA playoff history? One thing is for certain, there absolutely no pressure for Atlanta in this game. Roy Hibbert has been a no show, and Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague have been the real deal in the first six games. If Indiana goes home, look for a major face lift to the roster and possibly a coaching change with Larry Legend leading the demolition squad.

Prediction: I say Atlanta pulls out the victory cigars at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

OKC’s love/hate fest for Durant has been all types of crazy. First they love him, then he’s ‘Mr. Unreliable’ then they hang a billboard after game six that read ‘OKC hearts Durant,’ and all is forgiven in less than 24 hours right? Well whatever happens today remember Oklahoma City, KD’s pending free agency is sooner rather than later. With Zach ‘Z-Bo’ Randolph suspended for today’s game seven, does it even the playing field a little bit or is the momentum all in the Thunder’s favor? One thing is for sure, my favorite team so far in these 2014 playoffs have been the mighty ‘Grit and Grind’ Grizzles. They know how to play through adversity, that’s how they won 50 games and clinched the seventh seed when they looked dead in the water in mid February (10th seed at the time and under .500).

Prediction: I’m thinking 2-for-2 on the upsets, and Memphis makes it happen. OKC is left with questions to answer, mainly who’s team is it Durant’s or Westbrook’s?

L.A. has seen brighter days including the yellow and purple team still playing around this time of the year. But it’s a new day (even for D’Antoni) especially since the comments of a certain owner have seen such a ripple effect; you even have former Clipper Stephen Jackson rapping about it (Google the song for a good laugh). Doc Rivers led a group of young veterans to the third seed, a game and a half behind OKC, to become a favorite to get out of the west. After all the attention was focused on them in the last week for the wrong reasons, the Clippers get to chance to get out of the first round for the second time in eight seasons. Something this franchise hasn’t been know for in their 30 plus years of existence; a threat to make a deep playoff run. Now that Sterling looks to no longer be in the picture, these 2014 Clippers should play for themselves and their loyal fans.

Prediction: Look out Golden State; it’s the end of the line for you and Mark Jackson.

Brooklyn played their best game of the series last night at the Barclay Center, leading by as many as 26 and never trailed once.

Kevin Garnett played more than 12 minutes from their game five lost and scored 13 points in Friday’s victory to force one more game at the Air Canada Centre.

The Nets will have to rely on their wildly vets who are playoff tested, in particular two who have a championship ring, and plenty of game seven experience.

First team to have the most balanced scoring and points in the paint will win this game. Look for Paul Pierce to have a monster game similar to game one.

Prediction: The Nets have too much experience for the likes of these young Raptors; the series ends just as it began with a Brooklyn win north of the border, leaving the Canadians to watch hockey for the next couple of weeks (Go Bruins!).

The Mavericks have been the biggest surprise in the last two weeks. After Vince Carter’s first career game winning buzzer beater gave Dallas life. They believe they can knock off the defending Western Conference champs.

This great mixture of young and old just works for Rick Carlisle, and it is a great matchup for the Spurs. Wining in San Antonio has never been easy, but if this game is close late in the fourth, the Mavs have a shot to pull it off.

Look for Tim Duncan to come up big, and Dirk to shoot lights out. Should be a classic Texas showdown.

Prediction: San Antonio should win this one, but it will not be as easy as we all think. Monta Ellis has played out of his mind including only missing four free throws all series. If it’s a back and fourth, the Spurs will have to rely on their role players to save them.

History usually has shown us that the home team in a game seven is usually the victor. But these NBA playoffs have shown us thus far that anything can happen even with .9 on the clock. Damian Lillard literally shot the Blazers into the next round for the first time in 14 years. This opening round has been nothing short of amazing. Enjoy today and tomorrow because like a shooting star, they don’t come around very often. I know one thing for sure, what great time to be a basketball fan!

* Bells Ringing * Jackpot!

Joel Pavón

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