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Staffpicks: NBA

Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday Apr. 25, 2002
No. 1 Kings vs. No. 8 Jazz
No. 2 Spurs vs. No. 7 Sonics
No. 1 Nets vs. No. 8 Pacers
No. 4 Hornets vs. No. 5 Magic
No. 3 Celtics vs. No. 6 76ers
Mugshot Justin St.Germain
sports editor
No. 1 Kings vs. No. 8 Jazz series
Watching the Jazz in the playoffs is kind of like watching the 80-year-old man next door to me go jogging: I'm proud of them for still being able to do it, but scared at the same time that they're going to keel over from a coronary. The Jazz have no chance of winning - I just hope Stockton and Malone don't hurt themselves.
No. 2 Spurs vs. No. 7 Sonics series
When the Spurs win the NBA title, it won't be because they have the best player in the NBA - Tim Duncan. They'll have only The Admiral to thank for letting Shaq kick his ass all these years and hurt his big toe in the process. Nate McMillan did a great job to lead the Sonics this far, but stocking up on second-tier foreign centers won't work against the twin towers.

No. 1 Nets vs. No. 8 Pacers series
Forget about Byron Scott getting coach of the year - Nets GM Rod Thorn should be getting the accolades for swindling Phoenix into trading probable MVP Jason Kidd for an overhyped ball hog. But after the Nets let Yale grad Chris Dudley slip away, they'll have nobody left to outsmart Reggie Miller, who will lead the Pacers to one more finals before he's done.

No. 4 Hornets vs. No. 5 Magic series
Maybe Shaq should go back to Orlando, like he mentioned a while back. The Magic seem to like picking up All-Stars with career-threatening injuries. With T-Mac's back, Grant's gimpy foot, Mike Miller's bum ankle and Shaq's faulty toe, the Magic could be the best team ever - on paper.

No. 3 Celtics vs. No. 6 76ers series
Too bad they tore down the Garden, because this woulda been a nice turn-back-the-clock series. Imagine the old "PHILA" jerseys, short shorts and some Cons being sported in the Spectrum and the Garden. Order a cheesesteak from East Coast, crack a Yuengling and show Philly some love.

Mugshot Maxx Wolfson
assistant sports editor

I only wish that what once seemed to be impossible could now come true. Can the Jazz really upset the mighty Kings? I can only dream. Forty-year-old John Stockton is playing like he is 35 again, but that is still 12 years older than Sacramento point guard Mike Bibby. In this case, I see the youthful Kings beating the old and weary Jazz.

The West will be decided on a back and a toe. Can David Robinson's back hold up and can Shaq deal with the pain in his toe? If either of these injuries persist, their respective teams will have early exits in the playoffs. Here is my fearless prediction: Robinson's back will continue to give him problems, and Shaq's toe will be strong enough for another ring.

While most series are decided upon the play of the players, this series is really a battle of the coaches - Byron Scott of Los Angeles Lakers fame and ex-Detroit Piston Isiah Thomas. It's "Showtime" against the "Bad Boys" once again. I see a replay of the '88 finals, when the Lakers beat the Pistons in seven games.

Does it really matter who wins this series? There is no way either of these teams will make any noise in the next round. How bad is the Eastern Conference this season when a 44-38 record gets you the No. 3 seed? The Lakers are the No. 3 in the West with a 58-24 record. Anyone else see a difference in the conferences?
Who cares?

I predicted the Celtics to be in the finals on April 5 after the C's, as ESPN has been calling them, destroyed the Lakers 99-81 in the Fleet Center. But this series will be decided on which town has the better food: Philly cheesesteaks vs. New England clam chowder. I'll take a good bowl of chowda' any day.

Mugshot Charles Renning
staff writer

Vlade Divac said the Jazz were finished before game two. Whoops - the Jazz won 93-86. However, what Vlade meant to say was the Jazz were done after game two. With John Stockton and Karl Malone's average age reaching the average number of wives per Utah male, it was amazing they even finished the 82 regular-season games. Utah is done in four.

With The Admiral out for game three, the series tied at one, and the teams heading to Seattle, do I smell an upset? No. Tim Duncan is still the second-best player in the league, behind Shaq, and he will carry the Spurs into the second round. This just gives the Sonics a chance to run the series to five games.

With the best record in the East, it would be hard to pick against the Nets. Plus, they drafted Phoenix native and former UA star Richard Jefferson, who finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting (with only three votes). You have to be rooting for Jersey.

It's the series that no one really cares about, not even the people in Orlando and Charlotte. I'll have to take the Hornets. Wouldn't it be great to see them go deep into the playoffs and then jet for New Orleans next season?

With the Patriots coming off their surprising Super Bowl win, the Red Sox in first place and the Bruins battling in the NHL playoffs, how can you pick against Beantown? Not only will the Celts win this series, but you can also expect to see them in Los Angeles for game one of the NBA Finals. Lakers vs. Celtics - that has a nice to it.

Will Navarrro

Led by C-Webb and former UA star Mike Bibby, the Kings are probably the best team top-to-bottom in the playoffs. However, Malone and Stockton have been bringing their dirty style of play to the playoffs for years. Even with top newcomer Andrei Kirilenko, the Jazz are still lacking the X factor created by the ultimate pasty gangsta, Jeff Hornacek.

These are two teams that have been so close and so far throughout the past several years. The Sonics have Gary Payton and Vin Baker. The Spurs have Tim Duncan and David Robinson. The Lakers have Shaq and Kobe. I'm not a basketball expert (I just play one in this fish wrap), or a big fan of the purple and gold, but I'lll go with a proven winner.
Who cares? Lakers will beat either

Jason Kidd was the league's MVP this season, but he could never get past the first round in Phoenix. Jermaine O' Neal dropped 30 on the Nets in game one, but he is inexperienced. While many Wildcat fans might want to root for the Nets because of star rookie forward Richard Jefferson, you must also remember that head coach Byron Scott played at ASU.

The Hornets are so bad Charlotte has dismissed them to New Orleans, which might be a good thing. I mean, take your pick: Mardi Gras or NASCAR. With T-Mac's return, the Magic will make this more of a joke than the upcoming Daily Wildcat Trivial Pursuit tournament. Orlando will win the next two games big, and the Design desk will win big on Friday.

Led by Paul Pierce, the most underrated player in the NBA, the Celtics have more than enough to get past the 76ers. While Boston has enough to beat the lowly Sixers; time will only tell if they can bring Beantown their second professional sports championship of the year. But what do I know? I've spent the last week playing Tiger Woods 2002 for Playstation 2.


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