By Dan Shanoff
Page 2 columnist

The NBA playoffs aren't a sprint; they're a two-month marathon. You can find a game on TV almost every night.

To prepare yourself for any conversational environment in which you might be watching -- barstool with co-workers, couch at a buddy's house, restaurant table on a date -- check out the list of What's Hot heading into Saturday's playoff tipoffs:

WHAT'S HOT, WHAT'S NOT FOR THE NBA PLAYOFFS
Category Hot Not Hot
Streaking Bucks (won 4 in row) Jazz (4-6 last 10)
TV guy as management Jim Paxson Doug Collins
No. 1 fan
Tyra Banks

Jack
Suck to be you T'wolves (open with Lakers) Mavs (if advance, home-court vs. Kings)
Last-minute seedings flip-flop Lakers and Blazers Bucks and Magic
"Oh, sure, I always liked the ..." T'wolves Nets
First-found series T'wolves-Lakers Pistons-Bucks
Coach on the hot seat Flip Saunders (T'wolves) Rick Carlisle (Pistons)
NBA's "He Hate Me" Kobe Bryant Allen Iverson
Pacer due for national breakout
Al Harrington

Jonathan Bender
Home court HSBC Centers (Spurs) FleetCenter (Celtics)
Mr. Clutch Robert Horry (Lakers) Doug Christie (Kings)
Hot-head
Ron Artest (Pacers)

Zach Randolph (Blazers)
Off-court action Who draws LeBron? MJ coming back?
Jersey to be seen in Jordan Bullets retro 'Sheed Wallace retro
Fire up the crowd music
50 Cent

Nelly
Functional accessory Double-wide headband Two-color headband
Six-seed sleeper Blazers Celtics
Three-point ace
Steve Nash (Mavs)

Keith Van Horn (Sixers)
X-factor Jamal Mashburn Matt Harpring
Unemployment-line sighting Jerry Krause Lon Kruger
Designated hack-a-Shaq'er
Malik Rose (Spurs)

Shawn Bradley (Mavs)
Must prove it this year
Kevin Garnett

Tracy McGrady
Strategy trend Run, run, run Slow-down, plus D
Impact sub Tim Thomas (Bucks) Mark Madsen (Lakers)
Payback time Spurs over Lakers Mavs over Spurs

For the office pool, elevator debate or, most important, the blind-date conversation piece:

PAGE 2's PICKS
Category Hot Not
West upset special
Blazers over Mavs

Jazz over Kings
West sleeper Do the Lakers count? Fail-Blazers
West champ
Kings

Spurs
East upset special Bucks over Detroit Celtics over Pacers
East sleeper Hornets Magic
East champ
Nets

Pistons
Finals Kings over Nets East champ over West

Dan Shanoff is a columnist for Page 2. His "Daily Quickie" commentary appears every weekday morning.




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THE HOT LIST