Pages: NBA’s first round! Who’ll get KO’d?

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Saturday, April 20, 2013


ASK anybody. Ask Dennis Que. Ask Kyle Kokseng. Ask anybody not named Kobe the same question and you’ll receive the same reply:
Miami Heat will win it all.

LeBron & Co. are not the favorites. They are EXPECTED to win. After ending the regular season by winning 37 of their last 39 games, what else can we expect?

“They have a deeper bench this year and the Big 3 (LeBron, Wade and Bosh) are all healthy,” said Dennis Que, an avid Cebuano basketballer who not only watches the NBA on TV every day but adds, “My day starts when all the NBA games are finished.”

Kyle Kokseng, another close friend and the owner/general manager of Banilad Town Centre (BTC), concurs on Miami. He cites two words and three letters for the team’s impending triumph: Chemistry. Firepower. LBJ.

FIRST ROUND. The NBA Playoffs begin today.

With Dennis, we did a “Que & A” on the most exciting 1st round contests:

1.) 4th seed LA Clippers vs. 5th seed Memphis Grizzlies. A rematch of last year, “Both teams are evenly matched and they finished the season with identical win/loss records,” Dennis says. Expect a Game 7.

2) 4th seed Brooklyn Nets vs. 5th seed Chicago Bulls. The Nets are seeded higher but the Bulls won 3 of their 4 regular season games.

3) 2nd seed New York Knicks vs. 7th seed Boston Celtics. “Both teams hate each other and the Carmelo Anthony/Kevin Garnett drama continues. Stay tuned,” warns Dennis.

With Mr. Kokseng, I asked the same query and got this quick reply: MEM/LAC and SAS/LAL.

“LAL,” of course, stands for Los Angeles Lakers. Aren’t we all smiling that they entered the Final 16? Imagine the playoffs without the Lakers?

“They’re the NBA’s darling team,” Dennis says. “I’m sure a lot of people are happy, especially Charlie Pages. But I don’t see them winning against a superior San Antonio team and not without Charlie’s idol, Kobe.”

Kyle Kokseng replies: “All my basketball friends know I’m anti-anti-Kobe, but LAL making it in is good for the sport. They have a chance against SAS. If they don’t make it, they’ll go down in 6 or 7 games.”

Speaking of “first-round upsets,” Dennis thinks the Celtics have a chance against the Knicks granted they can slow down Carmelo Anthony. (Doesn’t the entire sporting world love this “New York vs. Boston” rivalry? And, I ask, what sentimental motivation will the recent Boston Marathon bombing have on this series? I believe this will give extra impetus to the Celtics.)

As to the team that might surprise us the most, Kyle and Dennis came up with the same answer: Denver Nuggets. “They might challenge the Thunder in the Western finals,” Dennis says.

Kyle adds: “But if Dwight and Pau continue to play like they did the last 2 games, could be scary.”

FINAL FOUR. For Kyle Kokseng, it’s Miami-Indiana (“both teams play excellent defense and IND has good inside out offense”) and Memphis-San Antonio (“MEM has best opponents’ PPG in the league, SAS - Graig Poppovich”).

Dennis Que agrees on Miami-Indiana in the East (“Miami will cruise past the Bucks, Nets; Indiana might face a tough Knicks team but will win because of their experience and depth”) but thinks Oklahoma will beat San Antonio to meet Miami (again) in the NBA Finals this June.

MVP? No question. The award hasn’t been given yet but, as sure as Dennis is that Miami will win the trophy, it will be LeBron holding aloft his 4th MVP award. (When, not If, this happens, LBJ will be nearing the 5 MVPs of Michael Jordan. Also, will the NBA see its first-ever “unanimous” MVP winner in LeBron? I hope so.)

NBA TODAY. Finally, I asked Dennis Que if today’s league is more exciting than the past...

“Yes and no,” he replies. “It’s always exciting to watch the NBA in different eras. Before, there were physical plays, fighting and brawls. The no-harm, no-foul rule applied. Through the years, the NBA managed to control that. Now, with the evolution of bigger, faster and stronger players and less physical plays, we are treated with never-before-seen cross-over moves and high-flying dunks.”

(www.pages.ph)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 21, 2013.

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