Posted by Matt Moore
We're down to it now, friends. We set out to seed the top 16 teams in the NBA and sought out who would win in a NCAA-style one-and-done tournament. Maybe it's the strength of the top teams in the league this year, maybe it's the way the matchups played out, maybe we're just frontrunners, but we wound up taking four No.1 seeds all the way to the Final Four. So who walks away with the win in this wild scenario? Here's how we see it playing out after some fierce discussion from the EOB writers...
West Semi-Finals: San Antonio Spurs (No.1 overall) vs. Lakers (No. 1 seed, 4th overall):
You'll just have to take our word for it that we thought this would be how things would work out before the Spurs' recent slump. A one-game situation makes it awfully enticing for the Spurs, with their mental toughness, offensive explosiveness, and big play ability. But when it comes down to these types of games, the victor is decided by the best overall player on the floor making plays, and that's going to have to be Kobe Bryant from our perspective. Throw in the Lakers's size to deter Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker from attacking the rim and some key three-point shooting, and it's the defending champs in the Finals again. Seven games, one game, too much size, too much talent, too much Kobe.
Lakers defeat Spurs by unanimous (3-0) vote.
East Semi-Finals: Boston Celtics (No.1 seed, 2nd overall) vs. Chicago Bulls (No.1 seed, 3rd overall):
When we seeded this thing, the Bulls had just taken a half-game lead over the Celtics in the Eastern Conference. Fast forward half a month and the Bulls are running away with it, which leads you to think they probably got shafted in terms of seeding. It would be hard if the tournament were seeded today not to put them as the top overall team in the tournament. Regardless, the Bulls have a great shot in the actual playoffs... and we like them in a one-game environment as well. Boston likes to slow the pace down, drag games to a crawl, and bludgeon you to death. Well, in a one-game series on neutral court, the games' going to revolve around one huge factor: Derrick Rose, Just as Kemba Walker illustrates the power of a dynamic guard in such a tournament, so too does Rose show what one talented guy on the perimeter can do, and there is no better guard in the NBA this season.
We see Rose taking over when things get serious and pulling off a huge upset, then throwing the ball up in the air while KG cries on the floor. Okay, not really. But we do see the Bulls toppling the Celtics in a slugfest setting up the Phil Jackson Finals. One member of our staff thought the Celtics did hold on to face the Lakers, but alas, majority went to Red.
Bulls defeat Celtics by 2-1 vote.
NBA Tournament Championship: Chicago Bulls (No. 1 seed, 3rd overall) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (No. 1 seed, 4th overall)
Can the Bulls continue their miraculous run through the tournament, knocking off Memphis, Miami, Boston, and the defending champion Lakers? Or will the Lakers topple everyone in a one-off the same way they look ready to topple everyone in a seven-gamer?
From the dissenting member of our staff:
"I kind of like the Bulls in a one game setting against L.A. though. Fisher doesn't have a prayer against Rose, so more than likely Kobe would guard him. And in the paint, Boozer and Noah match up relatively well against Bynum and Gasol. I feel like Luol Deng could make a huge difference."
That's a nice thought, and again, we see that in a tournament like this, a dynamic guard on a roll can make all the difference.
But it won't.
The reality is that the Lakers are the Duke of this tournament. The big name team that bully the other squads with a high-character group of players topped by an elite guard (Kobe is also BFFs with Coach K, fittingly). That kind of size, with the perimeter shooting ability means the Lakers are going to be in the lead for most of this game. Rose likely leads a last run to the finish, but down the stretch, you're looking at Carlos Boozer trying to contain Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. And that hasn't worked out well in the past. A great run for Rose, a valiant effort for the upstart Bulls, but once again, the Lakers find a way to win.
Lakers defeat Bulls by 2-1 vote.