Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hardwood Paroxysm's 2008-2009 Season Previews: The Unbearable Blightness of Being Dominant

You like potato chips.

I mean, you love potato chips. Particularly Sour Cream and Onion. You know they're bad for you, but gosh darn it, they're just so tasty. You go to potato chip factories for tours. You're a card-carrying member of the Anchor Chip of the Month club. You can't get enough of them.

One problem. Sour Cream and Onion chips get ridiculously popular an FDA study finds that they actually cure everything. Cancer. Chlamydia. Depression. You name it, all solved by your favorite little snack. All of a sudden they're everywhere. People keep giving you Sour Cream and Onion. Bag after bag after bag. It's all you have. You turn on the television and they're talking about SC&O. You go to the store and there's nothing but display after display of SC&O. It seems like everywhere you go, SC&O chips haunt your dreams. After a while, Sour Cream and Onion loses all flavor. You recognize that it's still good, and you know exactly why it's still good, but for some reason, it just doesn't get you excited anymore.

That's a lot like this group of winners.

Consistent, capable, reliable winners built on either teamwork and suffocating defense, or teamwork and a passionate combination of superstars. Of course these teams are good, look at them!

Detroit has been to every Eastern Conference Final since the dawn of time. Ancient hieroglyphs depicted them finding a way to not effectively guard the best small forward on the opponents' team and lose. Fascinating, really. But is there anything you don't know about this team? Even the new arrivals, Amir Johnson in the starting lineup, Rodney Stuckey, you know these guys. They're the same guys you've seen. Even if the relationships between them are complex, the core elements of this team are painfully simple. Defend. Pass. Trust. Win.

Cleveland. They have LeBron James. No one has really been his sidekick. They traded for Mo Williams. Gibson can shoot. They play good defense. Ben Wallace is a waste of space. There. I have just scouted the Cavs.

The Spurs are old, but can still win the title because Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan are very, very good. Does that sound familiar? Maybe because I've been writing the same thing since 2005?

The Celtics have Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and a bunch of really motivated, and (gulp) well-coached youngsters and some clutch shooters. Is this really calculus as to why they won the championship?

The Lakers have Kobe, Pau, and the greatest center to never actually finish a dominant season, Andrew Bynum. It's not like this is Shakespeare, okay? It's "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish."

Ask any of us who the best two teams in the league are. We will all mention at least one of these teams. But you know that. You've heard about them inside and out. You've seen it discussed on SportCenter. And SportCenter extra. And Extra Sport Center. And in magazines. And blogs. Everywhere.

So we'll try and provide some nuance to these teams, but really, you should just know that we think all these teams will be in the playoffs, one will be in the Finals (at least), and they're all very, very good.


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