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That's A Wrap - Playoff Time!

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That's A Wrap - Playoff Time!
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Here's an NBA Playoff Preview. We'll have a Playoff Fantasy League Draft recap following at some point …

Wednesday’s finale gave us an overtime thriller that saw the Lakers beat the Rockets to secure the No. 7 seed and a first-round date with the Spurs, as well as some injuries and a lot of big lines from some players many NBA fans have never heard of.  I’m going to focus on the playoffs, as well as mention some of the bigger scoring lines from Wednesday night. I heard stories of Dwight Howard losing leagues for owners with a turnover in overtime last night, as well as him winning some leagues with a block in OT. Fantasy hoops is frustrating at times, can send you into a ridiculous one-man celebration at other times, and is easily the most interesting fantasy sport to play, in my opinion.  Thanks for hanging out with us all year, but it’s not over just yet.

I’ll be back soon with a playoff league draft recap, an NBA mock draft this weekend, and the crew will be on the clock throughout the playoffs. We’ll also cover the draft lottery, the NBA Draft, summer signings and work all offseason on the new NBA Draft Guide. In other words, there is no offseason anymore.

Wednesday One-Liners

My internet crashed just as I was ready to compile the list of oddities from last night and we are now into hour 16 of waiting for its return. In any case, what was originally going to be a Daily Dose is now a Playoff Preview. I guess it’s better late than never, huh? Now that it no longer really matters, here is a list of players who (for the most part) came out of nowhere and helped some people win fantasy leagues.

Mike Scott and John Jenkins for the Hawks, Josh McRoberts for the Bobcats, Gerald Green for the Pacers, Steve Blake for the Lakers, Zach Randolph for Memphis, Mike Miller for Miami, John Henson for Milwaukee, Greg Stiemsma for Minnesota, Chris Copeland and Earl Barron for the Knicks, Reggie Jackson for the Thunder, Dorell Wright for the Sixers, LaMarcus Aldridge for Portland, DeMarcus Cousins for the Kings and Al Jefferson for Utah. There were probably a few others that I’m missing, but I just don’t have the resources available right now. You can click on their names to see last night’s blurbs and the insanity that took place. I know Barron had the game of his life with 11 points, 18 boards and a block in a start for the Knicks, despite signing with them earlier in the day.

2013 NBA Playoffs

Eastern Conference

No. 1 Heat vs. No. 8 Bucks

Game 1 will be in Miami on Sunday and the Bucks are hoping Larry Sanders will be ready from his back injury, but if he’s out, look for Henson to continue to put up solid numbers for the Bucks. Brandon Jennings is dealing with left and right foot/ankle/Achilles issues, but was able to play through it last night.

The Heat are healthy and ready to roll, and Dwyane Wade looked great on Wednesday.

Prediction: Heat in 4

No. 2 Knicks vs. No. 7 Celtics

The Knicks are banged up badly, as Copeland’s great night was soured by a painful shoulder injury, although he says he’ll be ready to go on Saturday. Pablo Prigioni suffered a severely sprained ankle, although both Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd should be ready to go. Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin are still a little iffy for Game 1 on Saturday in New York, Amare Stoudemire is still out, and Rasheed Wallace retired again. Iman Shumpert went down on Wednesday, but it was said to be cramps, which isn’t a big deal. Scoring champion Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith should be rested up, and this is going to be a fun series.

The Celtics should have a relatively healthy Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry and Shavlik Randolph, but Rajon Rondo’s season is over (still). Pierce, KG and Terry may be a little banged up, so watch for updates on their statuses. Jeff Green was one of the season’s best stories and he played in all 81 (one was canceled) games for the Celtics after missing last season due to heart surgery. He’ll also be a key player for them in this series.

Prediction: Knicks in 7

No. 3 Pacers vs. No. 6 Hawks

The Pacers rested all their starters except Lance Stephenson, and Gerald Green went off for a career-high 34 points and six 3-pointers. George Hill’s groin and ankle are a concern, but my guess is he’ll be ready to play, along with Paul George, Roy Hibbert and David West. Danny Granger is done for the year, so don’t draft him playoff leagues. Game 1 is Sunday in Indy.

The Hawks appeared to tank over their final two games, apparently thinking they have a better chance against the struggling Pacers than the Nets. Maybe they do, but it’s going to be an uphill battle. The Hawks starters should all be fully rested and ready to go in Sunday’s Game 1.

Prediction: Pacers in 6

No. 4 Nets vs. No. 5 Bulls

On the injury front, Joakim Noah (feet) will likely be ready for the playoffs for the Bulls, but is far from healthy, while we still don’t know when Derrick Rose is going to be ready to play.  Taj Gibson (knee) is also banged up, but should be good to go in Saturday’s Game 1 in Brooklyn.

The Nets should be fully healthy as well, although Joe Johnson doesn’t look like his old self, and Andray Blatche should be a solid contributor off the bench. If D-Rose isn’t ready for this series, I think the Nets are going to pull it out.

Prediction: Nets in 7

Western Conference

No. 1 Thunder vs. No. 8 Rockets

The Thunder are pretty healthy with the exception of Kendrick Perkins, who they may need to deal with Omer Asik and Greg Smith. Game 1 is Sunday at OKC.

The Rockets lost a tough one in overtime to the Lakers last night and will have to face the Thunder as a result. James Harden struggled with his shooting and TOs, but still scored 30 points for the 23rd time this season. They’re pretty healthy, although Harden looks a little banged up, and Harden vs. his old team puts an interesting angle on this series. I think Houston will battle them, but it’s hard to see the Thunder going down in Round 1.

Prediction: Thunder in 6

No. 2 Spurs vs. No. 7 Lakers

The Spurs saw the return of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili last night, but neither player looked all that great. In my opinion, Manu is still not close to 100 percent. Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard have been pretty quiet lately, and Tim Duncan is the anchor of this team, as usual. He missed too many games, but still had a fantastic season and could get some MVP votes. The Spurs have been horrible lately at defending 3-pointers, and the Lakers will shoot a ton of them. Game 1 is Sunday at San Antonio.

The Lakers are obviously missing Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, but there’s a chance Nash could be ready for Round 1, although he’s not a lock for Game 1. Metta World Peace (knee) and Antawn Jamison (wrist) are both banged up, but they played well last night. The Lakers are going to give the Spurs everything they can handle and Blake went off for 24 points, seven boards, seven assists and four 3-pointers last night, while Pau Gasol triple-doubled again for the second time in three games with 17 points, 20 rebounds, 11 assists and two blocks. Dwight Howard’s defense was a key to the win that secured them the No. 7 seed, and the Lakers may take out the reeling Spurs, who have lost three straight and not looked right in weeks. Hack-a-Dwight could really come into play in this one.

Prediction: Lakers in 7

No. 3 Nuggets vs. No. 6 Warriors

The Nuggets have to be worried about the health of Kenneth Faried, who is very iffy for Game 1 with a severely sprained left ankle. Wilson Chandler has been filling in nicely for him, while Anthony Randolph is even making some noise in his absence. JaVale McGee could be the key for the Nuggets off the bench, while Ty Lawson looks like he’s 100 percent healthy. Andre Iguodala has been every inconsistent and has struggled with his free throws all year, and the Nuggets will need “good Iguodala” to show up immediately. Game 1 is on Saturday at Denver.

The Warriors are pretty healthy, although Andrew Bogut is basically playing on one leg. As long as Stephen Curry, who set the single-season record for 3-pointers made last night, Klay Thompson and David Lee are all hot and playing well, the Warriors are capable of beating any team on any night. But the Nuggets don’t lose at home and home-court advantage should be the key to them advancing here.

Prediction: Nuggets in 7

No. 4 Clippers vs. No. 5 Grizzlies

Blake Griffin tweaked his back last night but played through it, so hopefully he’ll be ready to go in Game 1. The Clippers have a tough matchup on their hands and they’ll need strong play out of Griffin, Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, Jamal Crawford, Caron Butler and Matt Barnes if they’re going to win. Chauncey Billups is back (sort of), but I don’t think that Vinny Del Negro can count on him right now. Game 1 is Saturday at L.A.

Zach Randolph went off for 25 & 19 last night, and the Grizzlies are hoping there’s more where that came from this weekend. This is a great matchup. Chris Paul vs. Mike Conley, Crawford vs. Tony Allen, Butler vs. Tayshaun Prince, Griffin vs. Randolph, and Jordan vs. Marc Gasol are the key matchups and both teams have pretty solid benches. But the Clippers have home court, as well as the better point guard, so I’m going with it, but the Grizzlies could very easily win this series.

Prediction: Clippers in 7

 

As for the Finals, I’m going with the Heat over the Thunder, although I wouldn’t be shocked if the Kobe-less Lakers somehow find a way to get there instead of OKC. I'm sure I'm sleeping too hard on the Spurs, but it just kind of feels like father time and injuries may have finally caught up with them. 

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