NBA Playoffs: All Cats Everything

NBA Playoffs: All Cats Everything

Corey Nicholsover 9 years

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Aritcle written by:Corey NicholsCorey Nichols
"...because we need to find that place and take it from them." So as I was thinking about which team to root for in the NBA Playoffs (because, like most Americans, I don't really care), I tried to weigh the amount that UK players have a role in their lineup, against the likelihood that the team would do well.  After all, if I'm gonna be a bandwagon fan, it might as well be for a team that's good, right?  I mean, there's no such thing as a bandwagon Bengals fan, is there?  Of course not. But as I started looking at the playoff teams with UK players, I realized that a TON of them have some sort of tie with our beloved University, though in varying degrees.  So, for those of you who don't follow the NBA at all, here's a little guide to help you pick which team is right for you, weighing both the UK ties, and the likelihood that the team will succeed.  Now you can at least pretend to have a rooting interest in the Playoffs when your friends also pretend to like it when they're around you.   Boston Celtics UK Rooting Factors: Rajon Rondo has been the most successful UK pro since Jamal Mashburn, and is likely the most important piece on an aging Celtics squad.  His short time at Kentucky was tempered with attitude problems and a perpetual conflict with Tubby Smith, but it's always good to see a UK guy excel in the NBA. Payout Probability: Moderately High.  They're old, but disciplined, which is basically the opposite of their first round opponent, the Atlanta Hawks.  Expect to see them in the Eastern Conference Finals with the Heat, but probably not any further.   Philadelphia 76ers UK Rooting Factors: Jodie Meeks is probably the most underpaid player in the NBA right now, and the 76ers are really getting the most out of their money.  At a little over $800k, Jodie puts in 25 minutes, and almost 9 points per game.  We know what he's capable of, and hopefully the people in Philly pick up on it, too, after he torches the Bulls for 54 tomorrow at 8pm. (Hey, we can hope, right?) Payout Probability: Fair.  Last week, it would have been very low.  They are on the worse end of an 8/1 seeding, and those rarely end well for the underdog.  However, after the unfortunate injury to Rose, things are looking better for the 76ers, who have evened the series at a game a piece.  Anything is possible for the quick, albeit undersized, guard-oriented Sixers.   Orlando Magic UK Rooting Factors: The Magic have both Daniel Orton and DeAndre Liggins on their roster, and both have been showing some promise this season.  Liggins has averaged seven minutes in seventeen games this season, but his last ten games have seen him double that to fourteen minutes.  Not to mention he's shooting at 48%.  Who would've thought?  Orton is Orton, and either you dislike him or you don't pay much attention to him.  But he's averaged about twelve minutes in sixteen games this season.  Hopefully he can see that number continue to go up. Payout Probability: Average.  The Magic have a better roster than the Pacers, but are down 2-1.  They'll need to do more to get out of the first round.   Utah Jazz UK Rooting Factors: Enes Kanter.  Yep, that's about it. Payout Probability: Low.  Our own Rashawn Franklin thinks they should have lost on purpose just to get a better shot at Kendall Marshall, and forwent the Playoffs entirely.  In a completely basketball way, that makes perfect sense.  If I were playing 2k12, I'd do that in a heartbeat.  However, owners balk when the chance of getting a better player is weighed against guaranteed revenue from Playoff games, so I understand why they'd want to go get hammered by the Spurs.  Cause that's what's going to happen.   Dallas Mavericks UK Rooting Factors: Kelenna Azubuike has averaged six minutes in the three games he's played so far.  It's cool that they gave him a contract, but in a perfect world they'd use him a little more. Payout Probability: Low. If they weren't playing the Thunder, it'd be fairly high.  But because they are, it's gotta be the way it is.   Oklahoma City Thunder UK Rooting Factors: Nazr Mohammed is endeared to those of us who watched Kentucky play in the 90s, and although he's always sort of flown under the radar, he's a very capable big man that has an established "veteran" role in the NBA.  Now, he's a cog in a very capable Thunder squad that looks to dethrone the Mavericks as reigning Western Conference champs. Payout Probability: High.  The Thunder are my (non-expert) pick to come out of the West, and they're a fun team to watch.  What the Lakers have in experience, the Thunder have in explosiveness and talent.  OKC is essentially the Kentucky of the NBA: really talented, but ridiculously young.  Maybe they should look at hiring Cal to work with that formula.   New York Knicks UK Rooting Factors: Jorts on Jorts on Jorts.  With NY's big men getting felled by fire extinguishers, Harrellson could have a bigger role in the playoffs for their next few games.  However, as much as I like the rest of the Knicks, Amare's cornrows have got to go.  You could also argue that their refusal to play defense is a factor in their being down in the series, but I think it's those cornrows. Payout Probability: Very Low. For more on why, jump ahead to the section on the Miami Heat.   Los Angeles Clippers UK Rooting Factors: Eric Bledsoe has been a consistent contributor for the Clippers, playing twelve minutes in 40 of their 66 games.  He's still behind a couple guys on the roster, but he's got great guys to play against and learn from, and should benefit a lot from being on this Clippers team. (How many times has that been said in history? Like, three?) Payout Probability: Moderate.  The Clips need another year or two before they can expect their discipline to catch up with their talent.  They should follow the Thunder's example from the last few years, and they should be a contender by 2014.   Miami Heat UK Rooting Factors: The Heat currently have no players on their roster that played for UK.  Nor are they geographically close to us.  What they do have is a strong tie on the "business" side, with UK legend Pat Riley calling a lot of the shots.  Riley is an unquestioned genius, pulling strings and getting results while others are scratching their heads.  Personally, I've liked the Heat since the 90s, when they had Mashburn, Mourning, and Hardaway, with Riley on the sidelines.  So, as a UK fan, you can rightfully stake a claim on the Miami Bandwagon. Payout Probability: Very high.  I'm biased, but these Heat look like the Monstars when they really set their minds on playing defense.  They held the Knicks to 67 points in their first game, which is almost half of what people expect to see out of Melo and Co. on a given night.  If the Heat don't cut down nets, it'll be a disappointment for them.  Jump on this bandwagon while there's room.

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