Scoop Jackson: All right, who's up to bat?
You be Rickey Henderson, E. Swing first.
Eric Neel: I'm ready, I'm eager. I'm looking forward to AI being AI in the first round against the Pistons. He's on fire right now and I don't expect it to stop. Did you see that little hesitation dribble-drive against the Bucks Monday night? Felt like Sinatra: "I got the world on a string, sitting on a rainbow ... " Detroit's going to have to put a body on him to stop him. And they will. And he'll get up. And keep coming.
Scoop: I got AI as the MVP this year. I really don't care what anyone says, he should be given the darn thang without drama or arguments. That said, Tayshaun Prince will make it impossible for Chuck to go nuts in their series. TP shuts cats down in the playoffs, Dennis Johnson-style.
I'm more intrigued to see what Denver is going to do. They're maybe the best seventh seed in history. I'm calling an upset. Remember, they got K-Mart for one reason: To get past the first round. I think their "mission" is deep. I'm sniffing Earl Boykins Round 2, Baby. Earl Boykins!
Eric: You've got the Nuggets in Round 2? Bold! That means you've got Boykins and NOT Manu "The Beast" Ginobili in Round 2? I gotta say, I'm not seeing that.
I'm also not seeing Phoenix going out early, even against Memphis. Here's my thing about the Suns: They've been hearing all year how they're not built for the postseason game, how their running thing is fun but not for real. I figure they've developed a nice us-against-the-world edge by now, you know? If I'm thinking mission, I can't think of a team in the tourney who has more of it than the Suns.
All right, so let's continue the look ahead: What are you least looking forward to?Waiting word,
Scoop: I'm least looking forward to the Bulls and Wizards, J. The Bulls are not at full strength and last week the Wiz had their butts by 25 in the first. Without Curry and Luol, they won't be the same, even though BG (Gordon) might be fun to watch.
Eric: I hear you on the Bulls, especially with Deng out. I love Deng. Maybe my favorite former Dukie of all time (along with Elton "How Long Must I Toil In Obscurity?" Brand), not that that's a long list, mind you. In fact, I'd much rather make a list of least-favorite Blue Devils, but I digress, and the question at hand is what I'm least looking forward to in the first round.
How about this: The first it's-the-playoffs-now, tough-guy foul down low or on the break, the first McHale-Rambis sort of message, the first flex of muscle for the sake of muscle. I want flow. I got no patience for the strong-arm, and I know somebody's gonna bring it down, just to see how some finesse player might react. It's cheap, and it's as predictable as the sun coming up in the morning. Leading candidates? K-Mart, the Collins kid in Jersey, maybe D. Ham in Detroit ...
Scoop: No, my friend ... Danny Fortson will be the first. Tech foul. Big "bows." Maybe miss a game. That's who my $$$'s on to be the first Dennis Rodman of the playoffs. And if I'm Beano Cook, I'm predicting it'll be Brad Miller (if healthy) at the other end of the drama.
Eric: Sweet Lou Hudson,
Here's my unexpected treat-of-the-playoffs prediction: Gilbert Arenas is going to go off, at least once. I'm talking a 40-point night, with a bunch of assists and rebounds and a side of fries to go with all that shake.
And here's my unexpected postseason trick: Carmelo's going to regress a bit, look more like first-half Carmelo and less like George's top gun. I see him pressing when the Spurs put the clamps on, and then I see him pressing harder still.