HOOP LOGIC with GOD FORBID’S DOC COYLE: A TR00 AND FALSE PLAYOFF PREVIEW
Two Fridays ago, Doc Coyle and God Forbid kicked off their kickass tour with Diamond Plate, Suidakra, and headliners Overkill. So it’s easy for you, an NBA-loving metalhead, to forgive the Hoop Logic Playoff Preview for arriving here on day three of the post-season in progress. As you see, it’s worth the slight wait cuz Doc, master of NBA insights, and MetalSucks Senior Editor Anso DF play the age-old game of TR00 or False? with each top-seeded playoff contender. Which teams have a tr00 shot at championship glory, and which are posers who just waste everybody’s time? What do you think?
NOTE Due to the quirks of publishing schedules, these Doc-Anso exchanges took place prior to Derrick Rose’s season-ending knee injury. They’ll cry about that in the next Hoop Logic. Read on:
TR00 or FALSE? ORLANDO MAGIC
ADF: In the final weeks of the NBA regular season, shit got fucked up in the Magic Kingdom: It was alleged that superstar C Dwight Howard had asked Magic management to dispatch head coach Stan Van Gundy. And with a handful of games left to play, Howard announced his plans to undergo back surgery that will keep him out of action until next season (which one source reported as a veiled refusal to play for Van Gundy).
Doc, can the rest of the Magic suck it up and ball hard in the playoffs thanks to this break in the Van Gundy-Howard distractions? Do they have enough weapons without their big canon? Is this team TR00 or FALSE?
DOC: False with a capital Fucked.
Without Dwight Howard, the Orlando Magic is not a playoff team — they’re the Phoenix Suns without Steve Nash. Their playoff opponents, the Indiana Pacers, have a virtual bye to the second round; they will run over this squad.
I am not really sure what to make of the Dwight Howard/Van Gundy drama. The rumors that fly out of these situations never seem to amount to much more than baseless gossip. I never expected this to spiral this far out of control, but it doesn’t make any sense on the surface for Dwight to stay in town if he hated the coach. Dwight Howard is the second most important guy in Orlando next to Mickey Mouse. If he really wanted Van Gundy out, I’m sure management would have fired him early in the season. Especially since they were ready to do anything to keep Howard.
So the suggestion that Howard is faking or embellishing an injury just seems way too far-fetched to take seriously. And I think Stan Van Gundy probably should have been fired after the Magic were upset by the Hawks in last year’s playoffs. He is a good coach, but has worn out his welcome. His team peaked three years ago, and they need a change. Also, he was completely out of line talking to the press about Dwight Howard wanting him gone. I don’t blame D12 for giving up on the guy.
TR00 or FALSE? CHICAGO BULLS
Doc, we’ve talked about Chicago’s shortcomings on offense. But the team won nine of 14 games in which superstar guard Derrick Rose was nursing a bad groin. Then, when Rose finally returned in mid-April, he quickly exited again with a bad foot or something. Upon Rose’s return to awesomeness, the Bulls will go deep — but can they survive the playoffs’ first round at less-than-full strength? Are the Bulls TR00 or FALSE?
The Bulls have played admirable while Derrick Rose has been on the shelf. They have depth, size, and perhaps the NBA’s best and most consistent work ethic.
But the postseason is different from the regular season. Final scores are lower and closer. Teams can scout better, then prepare better. A team’s depth is not as big of a factor because rotations shrink and games are separated by rest days. These games will come down to one or two plays, and if Derrick Rose is not fully healthy, Chicago doesn’t have the firepower to keep up with Miami.
TR00 or FALSE? LOS ANGELES LAKERS
ADF: Unlike the Magic and Bulls, the L.A. Lakers have been solving problems en route to the playoffs: Though Kobe Bryant sat for seven games with a shin issue, F Metta World Peace (fka Ron Artest) cranked up his leadership and his offense to match it. Meanwhile, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum got more touches in Bryant’s absence, leading to better balance and team chemistry. Also, the addition of G Ramon Sessions has invigorated the formerly-abysmal Lakers bench by putting Steve Blake back in his comfort zone as a sub. Considering a well-rested Bryant and key contributions from effort guys like Matt Barnes and Josh McRoberts, do you foresee a recently-unfathomable appearance by the Lakers in this year’s NBA finals? Should we consider the Lakers TR00 or FALSE?
On paper, the Lakers are a bona fide contender. They have one of the best players of all time still producing at a high level, arguably the two most skilled low-post seven-footers in the game, Ramon Sessions pumping new life into the backcourt, and championship pedigree.
But this Lakers team has more issues than Celebrity Rehab. Metta World Peace’s latest display of violence — a brutal elbow to the head of Oklahoma City Thunder G James Harden — will bench him for the first round of the playoffs. He was playing his best offensive basketball in years, and is their best on-the-ball defender. Not good.
I am convinced that Andrew Bynum is also a nutcase. Some of his statements are bafflingly misguiding and egotistical. It’s hard to believe that all of this turmoil and drama will lead to a team spirit that is conducive to winning. Kobe Bryant needs to get the troops in line for this to work. The Lakers are like that really hot chick who is a psychopath. Tempting, but beware.
TR00 or FALSE? BOSTON CELTICS and SAN ANTONIO SPURS
ADF: It’s been said that the playoff schedule favors old and creaky players like the superstars of the Celtics and the Spurs. But is rest all that’s needed for these teams to best big-boner foes like the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder, respectively? Is the threat of a wily, experienced team TR00 or FALSE?
I believe that you truly can never count out teams that have won it all. We all know that both these teams have the heart, guts, and skill to win it all. The question is, do they have the legs?
Boston has gotten back into contention by having one of the best second-half records after moving Kevin Garnett to the five and moving G Avery Bradley into the starting line-up. It might be fool’s gold, but my main issue with Boston is their lack of size: They don’t have one true center on the roster, so big teams like Chicago and Indiana could eat them up. But I will never count out this Celtics team: Though a four seed in 2010, they went all the way to game seven of the NBA Finals. Anything can happen in the playoffs, and I expect upsets this year.
The Spurs had the best record in the West last year but got bounced by an eighth-seeded Grizzlies team. That defeat has hurt the Spurs’ credibility. Of course, their regular-season record and consistent, dominant play put them at the top of the contenders list among Miami, Chicago, and OKC. This is team will have to at least reach the Western Conference finals to prove that last year’s post-season breakdown was a fluke. We should point out that Spurs G Tony Parker has been unstoppable this year and San Antonio’s young guys are great. I also love the late-season pickups of Boris Diaw and Stephen Jackson; those gritty guys fit like a glove. Gregg Popovich is the coach of the year … maybe every year.
TR00 or FALSE? LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
ADF: The other L.A. team was nearly pronounced DOA in March — but then tore off 13 wins in 15 games, including some real blood-and-guts efforts down the stretch. Doc, do you agree that Blake Griffin’s offense is one-dimensional, that Caron Butler is dangerously uneven, that injured PG Chauncey Billups is desperately missed, and that C DeAndre Jordan is probably a non-factor in high-impact playoff basketball? Or is the idea that anything is possible with Chris Paul? TR00 or FALSE?
I love this Clippers team, but I love their potential even more than their reality right now. Chris Paul is a BEAST. He is the best true point guard in the league, and has that cunning, controlled steady-of-hand that’s possessed also by guys like Steve Nash and Jason Kidd. He plays his best ball in the post-season and is as clutch as any NBA player.
I also love Blake Griffin. I’ve never seen a 20-10 guy who shoots better than 50% get so much crap about his flaws in his second year. Mo Williams coming off the bench is great and they have solid role players. That’s the good stuff.
What I don’t like is that the Clippers’ below-average defense. That will not get it done in the playoffs. Caron Butler is not the player he once was; he can’t seem to hit open jumpers consistently or make plays off the dribble. Coach Vinny Del Negro does not seem to be a championship-caliber leader who can inspire or strategize on both sides of the ball. And all of the above would be irrelevant if G Chauncey Billups was healthy: CB4 and CP3 in the same backcourt was deadly and unique. Skill, smarts, and experience squared. Nick Young is a nice young piece, but he can’t replace Chauncey. They won’t be able to overcome the top teams out West.
TR00 or FALSE? OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER and MIAMI HEAT
ADF: Doc, is it most likely that the Thunder and Heat will meet in the NBA Finals? How do these squads match up? Might we agree that one team surrounds two high-mileage/high-output superstars with a grab bag of mediocrity, and the other runs three young scorebots amid a posse of angry studs who don’t conceal their throbbing hard-ons for blocks and boards? Which team has the edge in the post-season? Which mega-team is TR00 and which is FALSE?
DOC: Both TR00.
Expect these teams to meet in the Finals. LeBron is the best player in the league. Kevin Durant is the second best. D-Wade and Russell Westbrook are top-10 players at least. And you won’t find better third wheels in the league than Chris Bosh and James Harden. OKC is a more complete team, but they aren’t without big problems: turnovers. Miami has the experience edge, and the chip on their shoulder after having blown last year’s opportunity.
I expect Miami to win the championship this year, but again I state that anything can happen. Down the stretch, Miami didn’t play well, but I bet that was mostly because of boredom and a concern for resting key players. I expect the return of the well-oiled Miami we saw in the first half of the season. Miami — and mainly LeBron — have to win this year, for every year that LeBron fails to win his first championship, the albatross around his neck gets heavier and his accomplishments seem diminished. I believe that desperation will carry them through.
These are the most athletic teams in the league. A finals showdown would make for one of the most entertaining championships in recent memory. I really hope it happens, but if any team can beat Miami, it’s the Thunder. Hold on to your seats, people!
-Doc Coyle, God Forbid