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Trail Blazers, Knicks top list of upset specials

Apr 15, 2011, 1:00 PM EDT

Knicks' Anthony stands near Celtics' Pierce in third quarter of their NBA basketball game in New York Reuters

There are things we know about this year’s NBA playoffs. The beer in Madison Square Garden will be too expensive. Lakers fans will blame any loss of their team on the referees. Derrick Rose will dominate Indiana and some will claim that as further proof of his deserving the MVP.

And some higher seed is going to get upset in the first round.

The NBA does not (nor will it ever) have NFL-style parity, but there are just too many good teams on the bottom half of the standings this season for one not to rise up and smack down a higher seed. It’s going to happen.

So who is it going to be?

The usual bet is the four-five seed matchup, but not this year. Atlanta is going to put up a better fight than they did last year against Orlando, but to believe in that upset is to believe Jason Collins can best Dwight Howard for four out of seven games. I’m not on board there. As for Denver, they have been special and fun since the trade, out working everybody and sharing the ball on offense. Problem is, the Thunder have similar strengths and better players. Denver will make them work, but OKC will pull away like they did in the last two meetings between these two teams.

No, the potential upsets are the three/six seed matchups. The Knicks and the Trail Blazers have a real shot to advance.

The Knicks have a puncher’s chance in this series. They are not the better team, they are not deeper, they are not anywhere near as committed to their system as the Celtics. Shaq or no Shaq, Boston is superior.

But the Knicks have two guys who can simply take over games and win them single handedly — and they are in a system that gives them the freedom to do that. Boston players will have a hand in the face of Carmelo Anthony all series, but there is no better shooter of contested shots in the league (well, maybe Dirk Nowitzki, but it’s close). Anthony is fully capable of putting up 40+ with that hand in his face and winning a game. At some point in the series Amar’e Stoudemire may shake free of Kevin Garnett and take over a game himself.

Then there is the Knicks secret weapon in Chauncey Billups — his steady hand has long proven to be a big playoff asset. He does not get rattled, he’s seen it all before.

What the Knicks also have with Billups and Anthony is two of the best guys at game winning shots around. If the Knicks can keep it close, so it comes down to a one-possession game, they have serious closers. They’d have a real puncher’s chance because they have the guys that can land the haymaker.

It’s not going to be easy — but it is going to be entertaining. But maybe, just maybe if the Celtics late regular season struggles carry over to the playoffs, the Knicks can shock the world. And give Spike Lee the idea for a new documentary.

The sexy upset pick — and we picked it as well — is Portland to beat Dallas.

There are a couple of reasons why. The trade deadline acquisition by Portland of Gerald Wallace is a key one — a lot of fans don’t realize just how good this guy is. Dirk Nowitzki does, and he knows Wallace will be draped on him all series. And make him work on the defensive end. Wallace is not flashy but the guy is good at everything and works harder than everyone. He’s a monster.

Another reason is LaMarcus Aldridge — he averaged 27.8 points on 51% shooting against Dallas this season. He will occupy Tyson Chandler’s time and may lead to Chandler in foul trouble. Also, Portland brings Brandon Roy off the bench now and he can win a game (as can Rudy Fernandez from three on the right night). Dallas has depth, they have Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion.

Dallas was the better team over the course of the season, but the playoffs are about matchups. And Portland has some advantages there. Enough that they could pull off an upset.

And teach the lesson to Dallas one more, hard time that building for the regular season and playoffs are different.

  1. hnirobert3 - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:23 PM

    I could see Portland, NY, Denver and even Memphis as having a good shot to pull an upset.

  2. pff - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:32 PM

    AGAIN with the Jason Collins and Dwight Howard comments. for the love of God, get some new material!!!!!

  3. LPad - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:19 PM

    I’m a Knicks fan, but I just see this as media hype that will be followed by Melo and Stoudamire can’t play together, D’Antoni needs to be fired, etc.

    The Knicks have a shot, but the media is ignoring a lot of our weaknesses against the Celtics. For example, Ray Allen vs. Landry Fields. Fields isn’t going to get a lot of help against Allen, Billups is going to have a tough time against Rondo, the Celtics are very good at playing defense against the pick and roll, Amare occassionally struggles against KG, Pierce has killed the Knicks and is the only Celtic playing well right now so Pierce vs. Melo will probably be a wash, and the Celtics are a better rebounding team despite a less than 100% Shaq.

  4. Ryan Karhut - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:34 PM

    Go Knicks! I hope the Knicks make some serious noise in the post season this year I’m all over that band wagon. I just worry that their bench stinks which means by series two, three if I’m wishing upon a star, Stoudamire, Melo and company will be tired. Anyway, we had a great regular season and if you want to check out the top ten plays of the year here’s a link to a good video.

    Top 10 Plays of the NBA’s Regular Season

    • denverhoopdreams - Apr 15, 2011 at 3:26 PM

      You just admitted that you’re a Knicks Bandwaggoner? Or did you miss a few words and commas in there?

  5. dysraw1 - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:42 PM

    im going with the knicks in 6 on this 1 simply because the celts r not what they were with perk. and i guess u could say im wishing on a star 2.

    • denverhoopdreams - Apr 15, 2011 at 4:07 PM

      When has Perkins ever been a threat in Boston though? Did he scare people with his scowls?

      • dysraw1 - Apr 15, 2011 at 6:53 PM

        people never the see the guy who does all the dirty work

  6. lbcdeeznutz - Apr 15, 2011 at 3:04 PM

    My upset pick is Kobe over David Stern. He will win the appeal and get the 100K back.
    Go Lakers!!!

  7. ocgunslinger - Apr 15, 2011 at 9:48 PM

    Hey Kurt…..”Lakers fans will blame any loss of their team on the referees” A statement of fact? Based on what? You take a poll of LA ticket holders? Or more likely just a dumb statement to fill some space in your blog. And whether or not Rose has a fantastic series or not will not diminish his deserving the MVP. That man should win it hands down this year. I won’t disagree that the beer will be too expensive….. but not only in NY but at every stadium. What was your point?

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