Did the NBA Lockout Ruin This Year's Playoffs?

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Both eyes? No, sir. One is on the NBA. The other is skittering from hockey to baseball and motorsports. But, yes, I do love me some NBA playoffs.

The question, like last year, is who can stop the Heat? Not the deflowered Bulls. Not the Pacers, either. LeBron's shooting may wilt late in big games, but his defense won't. James should have no problem shutting down Granger, and I've a tough time seeing Boston or Philly stopping Miami's Big Three either.

The Spurs sure could, though. They are the smartest team in the NBA, Jake, and not just the devastating plod of that pick-and-roll. The Spurs have been smart off-court, too. In this shortened season, teams have played far more back-to-back games, and sometimes even three in a row. (People really need to stop using the expression "back-to-back-to-back." It makes no sense. Three people with their backs together would be a triangle.) The AP had a great story describing how fanatical Popovich has been about protecting his stars from the grind. Duncan averaged a career low in minutes this season, at 28.2 per game. Ginobili played just 23.3. With eight days of rest before they meet Memphis or the Clippers, San Antonio's legs will stay bouncy.

But my pick to stop the Heat is OKC, and not just because Durant averaged 26.5 per game in sweeping the defending champion Mavericks. It's all gets down to the Jaywhawk factor, of course. OKC has two former KU stars on the roster—Nick Collison and Cole Aldrich. With Mario Chalmers, the Heat can only boast one.

–Hampton

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Sports Roundtable

Patrick Hruby, Jake Simpson, and Hampton Stevens 

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