Shoals and Ziller preview each NBA playoff series.
Every Christmas, some teams that play in the same part of the country ignore the standings and engage in and out-and-out regional blood feud. But perhaps LeBron has become too all-encompassing for that sort of thing? If so, sorry Chi-town -- Cleveland's phoning this one in and never even making eye contact.
What dost thee Deities of Basketball decree?
There's been precious little study as to how LeBron James, basketball demigod, fits into the campfire tale that the proverbial Basketball Gods call home. "Gods" suggests a plurality, which makes the unknown forces of the NBA into a form of heresy, or paganism. Sorry. If that hurts you, stop reading now. When I think of lots of gods, the Greco-Roman pantheon springs to mind. The Greco-Romans often mated with mortals and then did awful things to the illegitimate offspring. It's like they wanted these demigods to prove they deserved those god genes (do gods have genes?). Like Hercules, LeBron is neither mortal nor wholly of another world. As a result, the Basketball Gods are not on his side. He will be tested, and we won't know if it's business or personal. It happened to Jordan, no?
I don't think the Gods are in charge of upsets, though -- that's more a Judeo-Christian thing -- so LeBron is probably safe from their wrath this time around. Remember this, though, as what I've written above contains the outline for Bron's very own Space Jam. Be safe, stay warm.
Everything revolves around 2010 free agency. How will this series affect the summer most?
I like to imagine an entire subculture of fans, hopefully in Japan, who watch the NBA with an eye toward nothing but this summer's player movement. Oh wait, that's called the Knicks' faithful. At what point does their devotion to 2010 become so selfless, so mystical, that they cease to pay attention to its effect on their franchise? They would probably be happier, more enlightened, that way.
This series has a LeBron hangin' around, so it's an easy one: If Cleveland loses, that either makes James more like to stay or more likely to go. Same thing holds if Cleveland barrels through and [does something subsequently]. Got it? But wait a minute here. Say Derrick Rose just really wows the pants off of everyone, and Joakim Noah out-Anderson Varejaos Varejao. Then maybe LeBron will Dwyane Wade all about it, and the Bulls will be big winners in June. How's that for motivation?
We snuck into baseball's underground lair to pilfer one of its most lovely tools of prognostication -- the log5 method, invented by Bill James himself.
Yes, the Bulls have a 3% chance of knocking off the Cavaliers, according to science. So overmatched does Chicago appear, there's a better probability Cleveland will lose Game 1 and reel off four straight wins (4.3%) than the Bulls will win the series. -- T.Z.
Yes, hipsters have infiltrated NBA fandom, as "instant-expert fans overrating certain players".
The other day, I went looking for a J.J. Hickson mix. I found a good one, but it actually turned out to be a LeBron-as-PG tour de force. Regardless, Hickson's on the rise, and while there's no telling how much he'll be trusted in the playoffs, he's the one to cheer for if you want to beat the curve. James has always needed someone who could finish as viciously as he can, not to mention anticipate his passes. Delonte West, is the on the radar, too, but only for his ice-cold game. Free him, let Mo simmer down. Note: mental illness is played out, and comeback from it is straight corny. Eschew all human interest!
For Chicago: Someone please find the Zapruder Film of John Paxson and Vinny Del Negro getting into it, slow it down, throw some drones on it, and put it on Vimeo where no casual NBA fans will ever find it. Bonus points for getting John and Jim mixed up. Look, I'm trying here. It's your own fault for not boycotting until Rose/Thomas was installed. They have protests for a reason. Oh, and I have in on good authority that some of these games might devolve into a Rookie/Sophomore-like dunk-off between James and Rose.
Looking away is the weak man's version of paying attention. Just do it.