NBA championship no longer a formality
Is the West the best, or is the East ready to feast?
After four years of being chopped liver, the Eastern Conference can finally lay claim to having a prayer of winning the Larry O'Brien Trophy, the basketball equivalent of the Stanley Cup (although it just doesn't quite have the same ring. Sorry Larry).
The Nets are riding into San Antonio on a ten-game winning streak and although they have been playing the NBA equivalent of my midget basketball team, ten consecutive victories in the NBA playoffs is quite the accomplishment.
Kenyon Martin is probably frothing at the mouth to defend NBA Most Valuable Player Tim Duncan and unlike past years when Martin was a psychotic goon, he will most likely control his urge to rip Duncan's arm off after Duncan makes him look like Martha Stewart on crack.
Can the Nets dent the West's dominance? The Gazette has the answer,
or at least claims to have it.
Spurs point guard Tony Parker is representing more than just the Spurs. He's representing the entire nation of France. The French would like nothing more than for the speedy and brash youngster to make the damn Yankees look like bumbling fools. And where better to do it than in Texas, the land of steak, unconcealed guns and trigger-happy presidents?
Unfortunately for Parker, Nets point guard Jason Kidd is just too damn good. Parker is quick enough to guard Kidd straight-up, but Kidd can operate in the post, bury the outside jumper and dish to his many options on the offensive end.
Professional wrestler The Rock would be proud of the Nets and Spurs' other guard options they know their role. The Spurs come at their opponents with a myriad of long-distance shooters, most notably Emanuel Ginobili, Bruce Bowen, Steve Kerr, Danny Ferry and the deadliest of them all, Stephen Jackson.
On the other side of the coin, the Nets' guards penetrate the lane more often with Kerry Kittles and Lucious Harris.
But in a fairly even competition, Kidd is the X-factor.
Tim Duncan against Kenyon Martin it's a match made in heaven. Duncan is the formulaic and calculated master of the game, while Martin is the energized, trash-talking beast.
Unfortunately for the Nets, sticking Martin in the unenviable position of attempting to stop the best player in the game (a realization I tried to evade) is counter-productive to their cause. Martin's offensive game will be eliminated and the aggressive forward will surely find himself in foul trouble.
Consequently, a majority of the front-court production must come from small forward Richard Jefferson, a young but emerging star. Unfortunately, Jefferson is as reliable as a seventeen-year-old boy on prom night.
Add Malik Rose (a dead-ringer for scariest person alive to meet in an empty alley) and "The Admiral," David Robinson, to the Spurs cause and the Nets are in a whole heap of trouble.
The Spurs bench is as stacked as Pamela Anderson's... ummm wallet. During the Western Conference finals against the Dallas Mavericks, the Spurs were led by a different individual every night. One night it was Rose, the next Ginobili and eventually Kerr's heroic performance in the series-ending game six (which drove me to contemplate jumping from my bedroom window).
The Nets bench is solid as well, boasting Rodney Rogers, Jason Collins and Aaron Williams, but they aren't nearly as formidable as the Spurs.
I truly wish I could proclaim to the world, or at least to the seven people who have actually worked their way through this article, that the Nets can end the Eastern Conference's misery. But the Spurs won the championship a long time ago in a galaxy far, far, away. It was in Los Angeles, when the Spurs knocked off the defending champion Lakers.
Prediction: Spurs 4 Nets 2