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Will Galen
05-01-2004, 01:50 PM
http://sports.excite.com/news/05012004/v6176.html

Preview Capsules for Second Round of NBA Playoffs

By CHRIS SHERIDAN
A look at matchups in the second round of the NBA playoffs, which begin this weekend:


Season Series: 2-2. Detroit won the final meeting 89-71, when New Jersey called a late timeout and made a meaningless basket to end the Pistons' five-game streak of holding opponents under 70 points.

Storyline: A rematch of one of the most unwatchable series in NBA playoff annals, (Wow) the Nets' 4-0 sweep in last season's Eastern Conference finals. Two big changes for Detroit since then: a new coach, Larry Brown, and a new power forward, Rasheed Wallace.

Key Matchup I: Rasheed Wallace vs. Kenyon Martin. The big question in this pairing is which player can shut down the other. Both are exceptional defenders, with Wallace's length and speed giving the Pistons an added weapon for their traps. Martin's strength is one-on-one defending, but Wallace played well against him the last two times they've met.

(I think Wallace, Martin, will be pretty much a standoff)


Key Matchup II: Richard Jefferson vs. Tayshaun Prince. Both players have made substantial strides in the past year, Jefferson improving all facets of his game so much that he's about to be put on the U.S. Olympic team. Prince, who had a breakout postseason a year ago, was Detroit's most consistent player in the first round vs. Milwaukee.

(I give the edge to Jefferson)

X-Factor: Home court. The Nets rested Jason Kidd and Martin for a long stretch late in the season rather than try to pass the Pistons in the conference standings, thereby giving up a chance of playing a Game 7 at home.

Little-Known Fact: Rasheed Wallace played only one game this season for the Atlanta Hawks, scoring 20 points at New Jersey. Wallace wore uniform No. 36 for the Hawks, becoming the first player in franchise history to wear that number.

Prediction: Nets in 6.

(I'm saying Nets in 7)

No. 1 MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES (58-24, 4-1) vs. No. 4 SACRAMENTO KINGS (55-27, 4-1).

Season Series: Timberwolves won 3-1, defeating the Kings twice at Sacramento. The first two games went to overtime, as did their final three meetings last season.

Storyline: Two evenly matched teams with a history of playing close games, there should be a premium on players who can make pressure shots down the stretch.

Key Matchup I: Kevin Garnett vs. Chris Webber. This will be the first time the two superstars have met in the postseason. Both power forwards were critical to their teams' success in the first round, Garnett averaging 25.8 points, 14.8 rebounds and 7.0 assists against Denver; Webber going for 19.4 points, 9.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists versus Dallas.

(Garnett will get better stats over a series than anybody he faces. Edge Garnett)

Key Matchup II: Sam Cassell vs. Mike Bibby. This is only the second time in the past seven years that Cassell has been out of the first round, while Bibby is in a second-round series for the third consecutive season. Both point guards are better scorers than they are passers, and both relish the opportunity to have the ball in their hands on key late possessions.

(Standoff)

X-Factor: The third scorer. For Minnesota, it will be Latrell Sprewell, who averaged 19.8 points in the first round. For the Kings, it'll be one of the league's best sharpshooters, Peja Stojakovic, who averaged 18.2 points but missed 25 of 35 3-pointers vs. the Mavericks. Both players don't get enough credit for their defense.

(Edge Stojakovic)

Little-Known Fact: Kings guard Anthony Peeler spent the previous 5 seasons in Minnesota as part of Garnett's oft-criticized supporting cast.

Prediction: Timberwolves in 7.

(I will go with the Kings in 7)

No. 2 LOS ANGELES LAKERS (56-26, 4-1) vs. No. 3 SAN ANTONIO SPURS (57-25, 4-0)

Season Series: Lakers won 3-1, all the wins coming during the first 5 weeks of the season. The Spurs won the final matchup 95-89 on April 4 at Los Angeles.

Storyline: The teams meet in the postseason for the fourth time in five years, both having made major personnel changes since the Spurs beat the Lakers 4-2 a year ago in the second round of the playoffs.

Key Matchup I: Karl Malone vs. Tim Duncan. Of the four times Duncan has met the Lakers in the playoffs, this is the first time he'll face a player of Malone's caliber in his one-on-one matchup. Malone has been the player who makes the Lakers click when he's healthy, and his physical style could frustrate Duncan if the referees let things get rough.

(Edge Duncan)

Key Matchup II: Gregg Popovich vs. Phil Jackson. Mr. Military vs. Zen Master. Popovich once compared being swept by the Lakers to being in Gen. Custer's shoes, while Jackson has already tossed an insult at the Spurs by calling San Antonio a "tourist trap." A guarantee: One will complain about the officiating after Game 1.

(Edge Popoff Popovich)

X-Factor: Robert Horry. The player with a penchant for hitting game-winning 3-pointers was 0-for-15 from behind the arc - including a last-second in-and-out miss to end Game 5 - in last year's Lakers-Spurs series when he played for Los Angeles. He's with San Antonio now.

Little-Known Fact: The last time one of these two teams did not win an NBA championship was 1998, when Jackson was coaching in Chicago and Kobe Bryant was battling Eddie Jones for playing time.

Prediction: Spurs in 7.

(I will go with the Spurs in 6)

Anthem
05-01-2004, 02:15 PM
I'll take the Wolves over the Kings, no question.

Shade
05-01-2004, 02:52 PM
#2 :nets: VS. #3 :pistons: -- :pistons: IN 7

#1 :timberwolves: VS. #4 :kings: -- :timberwolves: IN 7
#2 :lakers: VS. #3 :spurs: -- :spurs: IN 7

I'll take the Pacers in 5 over the Heat, or in 6 over the Hornets.

Kstat
05-01-2004, 02:59 PM
Pacers in 4 over Miami, or in 7 over New Orleans

Hicks
05-01-2004, 04:59 PM
#2 :nets: VS. #3 :pistons: -- :pistons: IN 5

#1 :timberwolves: VS. #4 :kings: -- :kings: IN 7
#2 :lakers: VS. #3 :spurs: -- :spurs: IN 6

I'll take the Pacers in 5 over the Heat, or in 6 over the Hornets.