The Eastern Bunny

The Easter is a lot like the NBA heading into the playoffs. It’s the end of something great with the promise of something even better and its not about what already happened, its about belief of what can be. It’s hope that greatness will lead the way into a place in history that will never be forgotten. It’s more than just a game.

While the easter bunny might have hidden your eggs, the eastern is already fighting for that golden egg-shaped trophy and I’ll break it down for you.

Chicago Bulls

What they did right: They put all the pieces together in the off-season. Chicago its perhaps the most balanced team in the league between superstars, rebounders, shooters, backups and coaching staff.

What they did wrong: Although this is a very good all-around team, with that much room left in salary cap they shouldnt have settled, and if there is one thing Bulls fans knows is that Jordan could have been enough to win a title, but they had Pippen too, just in case.

The spark: Joakim Noah. He is one of the scrappiest players in the league and he will take that energy on the floor in every posession.

The key: Scoring. I know the soon-to-be MVP Rose can score at will and is more than capable of hitting the last shot, but that is it. Who will score against Miami/Boston or whoever comes from West in a possible Finals? If even Kobe went 6-24 in game 7, I dont think Rose can do it all by himself in the offensive end.

Cousin Paul’s prediction: East Finals.

Miami Heat

What they did right: Dwyane Wade. Lebron James. Chris Bosh. Yes. They. Did.

What they did wrong: Mike Miller. They had room for one mid-level signing and they blew it on him. He hasnt done anything so far and he wont do anything in the playoffs, he is barely in the rotation. However, how much can you talk trash about a GM that puts D-Wade, Bron and Bosh together?

The spark: Big Z. We know the game plan: pass the ball to the shooter open in the corner everytime they double Wade or James, but Big Z is one of those “little” (the guy is 7 foot 3 for God’s sake) things that you need to win in the playoffs. He is a great, underrated offensive rebounder and a big-man scoring option.

The key: The question is already the answer. I know both Wade and Lebron can deliver but deciding who will close in takeover time might cause some trouble. I just hope it doesnt.

Cousin Paul’s prediciton: NBA Champions.

Boston Celtics

What they did right: Doc. Locking up Doc for another year was key. He is the mastermind behind everything and no one could coach this team better than him.

What they did wrong: The trade. It makes sense, trading an older guy, struggling with injuries for a more versatile, very good younger athlete, that can provide a lot of offense and could play an important role in the post-apocalyptic, post-big-three future of this ball club but you cant mess with your team chemistry halfway through the season. Do it in the offseason.

The spark: Shaq. Imagine having one of the greatest ever, playing well in the playoffs, hungry for a 5th ring to tie with Kobe. Its a long shot but it could be huge (I have finally learned how to use words).

The key: Rondo. I can tell if Boston have won or lost a game just by looking at Rondo’s assist number in the scoreboard. I’m aware of Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, but I’m telling you, he is THAT important. It’s not ok if Kobe is guarding you 7 steps back in game 7, do something about it, be agressive instead of shy.

Cousin Paul’s prediction: Second round.

Orlando Magic

What they did right: Turkoglu. When they made it to the finals back in 09 he was a big part of this team and shouldnt have been traded in the first place, nice job getting him back.

What they did wrong: Howard is clearly the most dominant center in the NBA hands down. He is a Duncan/Shaq big-man caliber that can give you a ring but Orlando is missing something and doing nothing to improve. They have been coming up short in the past few years and the organization dont put up an effort to go the extra mile.

The spark: JJ Redick. The all-time leader in 3s in the NCAA, could play a pivotal role in the playoffs, specially because the paint is always crowded with humans trying to stop the beast, Howard.

The key: Jameer Nelson. Call me point-guard-oriented but its up to him to read the D and decide if you are going to the post with Dwight or shooting from the outside with the sharpshooters. Avery Johnson, Tony Parker, Rajon Rondo, they know.

Cousin Paul’s prediction: First round.

Atlanta Hawks

What they did right: Kirk Hinrich. He is a much better fit to this team than Bibby and dont forget that he was the 7th overall pick in the Lebron-Wade-Melo-Bosh draft, but never really had a chance. This could be it for him and for Atlanta.

What they did wrong: Regular Season. When Atlanta plays at home, its the highlight factory. Phillips Arena is a tough place for the road team and they should have fought more for a higher seed.

The spark: Jamal Crawford. He is the definition of spark. He can win games coming off the bench and he has done it several times througout his career.

The key: Shooting. Atlanta has a bunch of guys that can hit the trey, such as Josh Smith, Marvin Williams, Kirk, Joe Johnson, Jamal Crawford. If its a good shooting day, they have a good chance of beating anyone, if its not they are up to a tough game.

Cousin Paul’s prediction: Second round.

New York Knicks

What they did right: Amare. Other than Dwight Howard, no one is as dominant as Amare Stoudamire in the paint. He is a scorer, a rebounder, a defender, he is a superstar and a great fit for Mike Dantoni.

What they did wrong: The trade. Sure you got Melo and Mr. Big Shot Billups but you had to give up half your team. Chandler, Gallinari, Felton, NY will miss those guys and its not like Melo-Amare-Billups is a big 3 like Allen-Pierce-KG or Wade-Bron-Bosh. I’m bold enough so I will say it: bad call trading for Melo.

The spark: Spike Lee. If you think anything else is the spark for the Knicks other than Spike Lee you havent watched a game at the Garden.

The key: Melo. Its all about Carmelo Anthony. He wanted the big stage, he got it. NY wanted him to be under the spotlight, he is. Amare and Billups are great but NY sucess depends solely on Melo.

Cousin Paul’s prediction: First round.

Philadelphia 76ers

What they did right: Doug Collins. Philly is a rebuilding team, full of young guns, just waiting for the future to come, but Doug doesnt wait. He has a reputation for turning losing teams into winning ones and he did just that with this 76ers team. Great job.

What they did wrong: Well, they are going to face the Heat in the first round. A bunch of young, unexperienced players against Lebron and Wade, there isnt much you can do about it other than say: the future is near, its just not here yet.

The spark: Jrue Holliday. Although he is only 20 years old, he’s got it. Whenever Philadelphia is behind, and believe me, they will be, he is the go-to guy who can hit some 3s or make a pass and change the flow of the game.

The key: Motivation. Miami is the team to beat. Philly has nothing to lose while Miami has everything. Everyone wants to beat Miami, a bunch of young guys and a great coach have a chance of doing it, not a good chance, just a tiny one, but then again, this isnt a math test.

Cousin Paul’s prediction: First round.

Indiana Pacers

What they did right: Not much really. They finished the regular season with a 37-45 record, so I dont have a lot to work with here.

What they did wrong: Personally I dont like the way this team is coached. I believe Indiana has above average talent in the paint with Hibbert and Hansbrough but they dont use it. They insist on shooting the ball and playing a crazy tempo game. Play more half court basketball, trust your point guard and your big-man.

The spark: Darren Collison. I know, another point guard, I cant help myself. But he is quick as lightning and make some highlight plays.

The key: Rebounding. The Pacers are among the best rebounding teams in the NBA and we all know working the glass is key in the playoffs. If the Pacers are able to mantain this high count of boards in the playoffs this could be trouble for opponents.

Cousin Paul’s prediction: First round.

I’m cousin Paul and I’m not the easter bunny but I’ll be watching close who lays an egg in the eastern conference.

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~ by tacklethespread on April 25, 2011.

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