Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What if Dr. Pepper Were Your Real Doctor -- Eastern Conference Playoffs

If you can forgive me for going all Bill Simmons on you, I will explain the title of this post.

Amongst my group of friends we discuss truly absurd things such as the logistics of smuggling diamond-filled ice cubes out of gangster rappers' apartments (you probably can't) and the legality of sending someone a box filled with poop (use UPS or DHL) -- you know, highly relevant social issues. But sometimes someone posits a "What if" hypothetical that is just stupid and not worth discussing. Should that happen [simmons]my buddy Steve[/simmons] will yell at them: "What if Dr. Pepper were your real doctor?" and render the line of thought dead. But sometimes in the world of sports hypotheticals are fun to consider and as such I will take a weekly look at a topical sports "What if".

What if the Bulls had beaten the Nets on the last night of the regular season?
What if Dr. Pepper were your real doctor?

Jason Kidd really looks like Chuck Liddell.
Obviously this is a non-issue and for rational conversation a dead issue as well because the Nets stomped the Bulls on April 18th and set the wheels in motion for a Cleveland-Detroit rematch in the Eastern Conference Finals. But imagine for a second that Dr. Pepper were your real doctor and that when it was 79-77 in the fourth quarter of that game that Boki Nachbar didn't go Maguerite-Moreau-fan-crazy from long range and instead it was Andres Nocioni and Tyrus Thomas leading a fourth quarter charge that delivered an enormous come-from-behind win for Da Bullss.

Your Eastern Conference Playoffs seedings (remembering Chicago held tiebreakers over Cleveland as did New Jersey over Orlando):
  1. Detroit Pistons (53-29)
  2. Chicago Bulls (50-32)
  3. Toronto Raptors (47-35)
  4. Miami Heat (44-38)
  5. Cleveland Cavaliers (50-32)
  6. Washington Wizards (41-41)
  7. New Jersey Nets (40-42)
  8. Orlando Magic (40-42)
Giving you the following matchups:
#1 Detroit vs. #8 Orlando
#2 Chicago vs. #7 New Jersey
#3 Toronto vs. #6 Washington
#5 Cleveland vs. #4 Miami (Cleveland's better record provides homecourt)
Conference Quarterfinals:

Pistons-Magic: No need to break this one down, it happened. Pistons in 4.
Bulls-Nets: Even though in fantasy-land Chicago won at the Meadowlands, Continental Airlines Arena has been a little shop of horrors for the Bulls for the past 3-4 years. The Nets split the first two games in Chicago and then the home team wins every game thereafter. Nets in 6.
Raptors-Wizards: The Wiz were decimated by injuries and would've been no match for any team in the East playoffs, though they'd probably steal one from the Raps. Raptors in 5.
Cavaliers-Heat: Though heading into the playoffs the Heat were a media darling, we all saw the disastrous chinks in the defending champs' armor exposed big-time by a younger Bulls team. Cleveland, though, always struggles in Miami... but not enough to make up for the Heat's inability to "flip the switch" in the postseason. Cavs in 5.

Conference Semifinals:
Pistons-Cavaliers: Even though Cleveland is four horrendous third quarters away from having swept Detroit in the real-life Conference Finals, I am a firm believer that if these teams had met in round two that the Pistons would've had a more tangible advantage. What we're seeing out of LeBron right now is a combination of things he learned in both last year's playoffs and the first two rounds this year; he wouldn't be as good as he is right this second without all of that. Pistons in 7.
Raptors-Nets: Though the Raps would have had 1-2 more days of rest than the Nets, it wouldn't have mattered as much as, say, the Cavs having 5 days of rest compared to one day for Jersey in the real-live semis. The extra days' rest may have provided Toronto with one extra win but Jersey's playoff experience really showed when these two teams met in the quarters. Nets in 7.

Conference Finals:

Pistons-Nets: Are you kidding me? The Pistons may lose focus more than any good team in NBA history but this series would be a bloodbath. There are absolutely no favorable matchups for the Nets in this series. They may have stolen one win at home but this would've been the worst Eastern Conference Finals ever. Pistons in 5.

So, you see, it's excellent that the Bulls choked on April 18th in New Jersey because if they hadn't we'd be on cruise control right now headed toward a Pistons-Spurs final. Though it may still happen, the Eastern conference at the very least has some intrigue left as LeBron and co. (BOOBIE!) have flustered the Pistons and noticeably put Detroit fans on tilt. On top of that, the last two games have finally been watchable, with scores in the 80's and 90's -- imagine that! As a basketball fan, I proffer my sincerest thanks to the Bulls for gagging away the #2 seed on the last night of the season, the playoffs would've sucked even worse without your effort.

1 comment:

The Chris Kopech said...

very good post. Love the simmons reference.

We're just 10 years away from being mentioned as a leftover on Deadspin...