Something like 7-11% of the world population is left-handed, and thankfully Manu Ginobili falls into that group, otherwise his injury last night would be far more daunting. If a Rightie were to have been diagnosed with an elbow sprain in the same arm, he’d be more than doubtful for Sunday’s game . To be successful over this Grizzles team, the Spurs need the Big Three to perform at playoff levels and for the bench to be as good as it has been all year. Since maybe pretty much always means no, Game One might represent the Griz’s best chance to steal one in SA.
With Manu out and/or hobbled to some degree, generating offense is going to be tough considering the tools Coach Hollins has at his disposal. If he’s smart, he’ll put Tony Allen on Parker from the opening tip. This same strategy was employed by Phoenix and Dallas with Jared Dudley and Shawn Marion these last few years to pretty good effect. Duncan is going to get a healthy dose of Marc Gasol and Shane Battier and OJ Mayo will be expected to deal with the wings. That said, while it may be challenging to score points, it won’t be impossible if the shooters, McDyess, and Blair come through.
At the other end of the court, McDyess, Blair, Splitter, and Bonner are going to have to hold ZBo in check until the Fourth as Pop tries to saves Timmy’s legs and fouls for crunch time. If they can be effective at that, it puts the onus on the lesser Grizzles to do something with the ball, and I don’t think they have the fire power to pull out the series if that’s what it comes to. Spurs in a tough six.
This is the one match-up in my mind that is hardest to call. Both teams are young, newly reconfigured, and appear to have bright futures; but what does all that mean in this series? If I knew exactly, I’d be on my way to Vegas, but since I don’t I can only examine the match-ups and make a wild, but somewhat educated guess. Denver has an advantage when it comes to their bench, but I think that the Thunder’s starters outmatch the Nuggs. Since rotations tend to get shorter in the playoffs, I’m going to call this one for OKC in six.
Dirk is going to pull one or two games in this series out of his ass, but I can’t see him willing the Mavs through to Round Two. Now if he gets some help from Terry, Marion, Kidd, et al that would be a different story. I think Miller and Kidd are probably a wash and Wallace should be able to check Dirk enough for Aldridge and Batum to be the deciding factors in favor of the Blazers. Portland in five.
I feel for Chris Paul, even though I don’t really like him. I can see that he’s a good player in a bad situation; a situation, with West out until sometime next year, worse than The Situation on the Roast of Donald Trump. Bynum’s injury notwithstanding, the Lakers should be able to walk over this Hornets team fairly easily (Remember that saying about how championships require both luck and skill?). Any production that Andy-Pandy is capable of at this point would merely be icing on the cake. This will most likely be a sweep, but I’m going to hold out a bit of hope that the Hornets shock the Lakers early in the series and at least make them work for their advancement. Lakers in five.