The NBA: Our 2013 Playoff Roundtable Discussion with Five Die Hards

In a much-needed change of pace, we here at Hoop Nut felt that giving just the usual series-by-series preview/prediction would be, well, predictable, so we came up with a novel idea. Well, not really THAT novel, but, still, something we felt was a step in a bold new direction.

Instead of Rolly and I simply going back and forth about how he thinks Miami will win it all (and his silent hope of Chris Bosh being Finals MVP) and how I think the only good thing in Miami is Filipino-American head coach Erik Spoelstra, we got a few of our friends together and asked them several questions about the Playoffs.

Now, these guys aren’t exactly the people you’ll find on NBA TV’s Open Court or Basketball TV. They aren’t sports journalists or media people by profession (neither are Rolly and I come to think of it), but they are big time hoops fans. They are regular joes like you and me who just want to share their unique takes on the 2013 NBA Playoffs.

The Playoffs are coming!!!
(image from the Chicago Bulls page on

It is my hope that this will be a step towards more concrete efforts to get “guys on the street” or the “average fans” to weigh in on their favorite basketball teams, players, and issues.

Oops, did things just get serous there? I guess it’s time to begin…

But WAIT!!! Rolly and I, because we’re crazy like that, will STILL post our series-by-series previews. Haha papansin talaga kami (we just love the attention).

So here are the guys:

Rolly Mendoza (RM) – He raises hell for Costco Canada and writes for Hoop Nut from his dark corner in Richmond Hill, Ontario. Biggest Chris Bosh fan ever. Follow him @rollzter on Twitter.
Joey Puno (JP) – This IT pro and father of one is the guy behind He is famous for hitting a championship-clinching shot in our school’s alumni league about a month ago. The only thing bad about him is he’s a Heat fan through and through. Follow him @kickspotting or @joesy138 on Twitter.
Julius Esquivias (JE) – He cracks the whip as a lawyer by day, changes the sheets for his two kids at night, and is maybe the biggest Jason Kidd fanboy this side of hoopdom. Where Kidd goes, he goes. Follow him on Twitter @julzesq.
Jay Santiago (JS) – This corporate juggernaut has conquered Denmark and Panama, and is a believer in the purity of the San Antonio Spurs’ methodical basketball. Still hoping Tim Duncan’s creaking bones have one golden run in them.
Alwin San Jose (ASJ) – He claims to be a marketing slave by profession and that he is a Boston Celtic for life. He likes the Miami Heat in pretty much the same way most folks like eating ampalaya. Follow him on Twitter @alwinsj

As for me, I’ll just moderate the discussion and come up with a nifty synth at the end. J That’s my teacher side coming to the surface!

Now for the Question and Answer portion:

1) Which team will you root for?
RM: Heat Nut all the way! For the West, I will be rooting for the Warriors although I dont expect them to go past the first round.
JP: Miami Heat.
JE: I will be rooting for Jason Kidd's New York Knicks.
JS: Hmm, maybe i'll choose a different team this year?? (His way of saying – SPURS!!!)
ASJ: I know they are a long shot this season and they are decimated with injuries but somehow, I still believe that the Boston Celtics will make noise this post season. The KG-Bradley-PP-Jeff Green combo will find ways to win (I hope) and I think getting past NY and Indiana is still feasible given the right momentum and breaks in this season’s playoffs. Another East finals trip would be a success for fans like me.  Then again, losing Rondo and Sully might be too much to overcome this season and might not have enough firepower in Round 1 alone (reverse jinx alert!)

2) Can Miami be beaten 4 times in a 7-game series?
RM: Anything is possible and I will not declare Miami unbeatable but I dont think any team can beat them 4 times this year. No one managed to beat them last year and Miami appears to be better than last year. LBJ is playing out of his mind and their role players have been solid.
JP: Yes, Miami has its weaknesses. They're small and they give up a lot of 3-pointers. Teams like NY can make their defense work with a team full of shooters and Melo playing at the top of his game as of late. Indiana has always been a bad match-up with their height inside and length with players like Paul George. They're looking for a rematch against the Heat, who beat them in the second round last year. And don't count out Boston. The last 2 games against them were without KG and Pierce and Miami barely won. You know Boston likes to play against Miami, especially against LeBron.

On the other hand, Miami has been playing its best heading into the playoffs even with starters Lebron, Wade and Bosh sitting out in recent games. The bench and role players have totally stepped up with the likes of Norris Cole and Rashard Lewis contributing solid numbers. Mike Miller looks fresh and has been shooting at a high percentage. Remember when this guy was considering retirement just last year? The addition of birdman Chris Anderson has somewhat filled the void inside with his hustle, rebounding and scrappy defense. This team is confident and they know what it takes to win it all.

Can Miami be beaten? Yes. But the way they're playing now, I think they have enough to make another run at the championship.
JE: The Heat can only be beaten by a team who gets hot from downtown throughout the series.
JS: Yes, when they finally play against a West team.
ASJ: The way Lebron is picking his spots and scoring and the confidence that the supporting cast has gained this past few games and the way the East now looks in the playoffs, Indiana might be the only East  team that can give them fits in a series (Miami has had trouble with big teams this regular season – i.e. Utah, Memphis). But does this mean that a team like Indiana can beat them 4  times? Until it happens, I doubt it (begrudgingly admitting it).

3) Which lower seed/s will be the most dangerous in the first round?
RM: For the East, the Bulls should challenge the Nets especially if Derrick Rose plays. The Celtics might steal a game or two from the Knicks but New York should prevail. For the West, the Warriors could certainly upset the Nuggets especially if Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried are limited due to their injuries. If the Grizzlies win, it wont feel like an upset.
JP: East - I think Chicago and Boston have the best chance of advancing among the lower seeds. Chicago has proven it can play with anyone, already stopping 2 streaks by the Heat and Knicks. Even without Drose this team is deep and with coach Thibodeau's defensive sets, Chicago is gonna bring it to the Nets. Boston has been inconsistent the whole season but come playoff time look for Pierce and KG to step up. This team has a lot of pride and if Pierce and Garnett are healthy this could be a long series.

West - Memphis and Golden state. Memphis is big and they play defense. Gasol and Randolph will be a handful for Blake and DeAndre. If Conley can somehow keep up with CP3 they have a good chance of stealing this one from the Clippers. The Nuggets and Warriors series should be an exciting one. Lots of running, lots of 3s and lots of scoring. Curry has been lights out from just about anywhere and if he can keep this up in the playoffs anything's possible. Denver is dealing with the loss of Gallinari and though they haven't really struggled without him, his leadership and clutch shooting will be missed in the playoffs.
JE: A Chicago team with a healthy and productive DRose will be a nightmare against any team, Heat included.
JS: Chicago Bulls win over Brooklyn Nets in 7 games (maybe 6).
ASJ: Suddenly, I had to look at the playoff brackets for this one. After a quick glance, here are my picks:

·         Golden State: Just because the way Steph Curry is shooting and the way Denver is decimated with injuries (Gallo being out for the season and Lawson/Faried not being at 100% percent entering the playoffs)
·         Chicago/Memphis: they are in 1st round series matchups (vs. Brooklyn and LA Clippers, respectively) that could go either way; technically, I don’t see any higher seed in this one and these are two entertaining series that could go the distance
·         LA Lakers: Similar to Denver, San Antonio is entering the playoffs banged up and with their style of play being much easier for the Lakers to cope up with, this has upset series written over it

I did not add Boston as a dangerous seed in Round 1 since I might be accused of a homer and I said my reasons already in the 1st question for a “hit-or-miss playoffs” for the Celts.

4) Which team/s will be the most negatively affected by its/their injuries?
RM: For the East, it has to be the Bulls because Noah and Gibson just got back from injuries while D-Rose has yet to play a game. If everyone is healthy and Rose plays, the Bulls could make some noise. Over in the West, the Lakers will miss Kobe a lot. How can they replace his 27 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists? Steve Nash is also hurting.
JP: I think it’s Boston and San Antonio who are really dealing with injuries and haven't been playing complete in the last few games of the regular season. Manu Ginobili is still not back in the line up and Tony Parker hasn't been as dominant since returning from his injury. Pop will always have guys ready to step up, but you need a healthy Duncan, Parker and Ginobili to go all the way. Boston's confidence is fueled by its leaders. If Paul Pierce and KG are not 100% come playoff time, I look for them to struggle a little bit.
JE: Boston would have been an absolute monster had Rondo been healthy the whole season.
JS: Knicks (Sheed, Amare/Chandler/Kenyon recovering) vs. Celtics (Rondo, Pierce/KG recovering) will be a grueling match-up that may result in aggravating injuries, which for the Knicks could completely endanger their first appearance in the East Finals since the Houston/Sprewell days back in 2000.
ASJ: I mentioned already the teams that might be affected by injury in my lower seed picks in Round 1 (GS and LAL), but another team that is negatively affected by an injury is the Chicago Bulls. If they get past the Nets in Round 1, they will just be another roadblock in the Miami L-Train. This is where the what-if of Derrick Rose playing this season would come in. Sayang.

5) Who will come out of each Conference -- East & West?
RM: The Heat will meet the Knicks in the East Finals and I expect Miami to advance. The Thunder will see the Spurs in the West (both sides are 1s and 2s) with the Thunder advancing.
JP: Miami and I still think OKC will win over the Spurs.
JE: The West will be brutal, but OKC should eventually come out. (Though I'm wishing for a low seed like GSW to pull an upset). I wouldn't mind seeing Denver in the Finals as well. Out East, Miami seems to have a pretty clear path to the Finals.
JS: East - Miami Heat
West - I'm with Reggie Miller on this...
Excerpt from NBA Open Court S02E04:
EJ: In one word: who wins the West, Lakers or Thunder?
Reggie: Spurs!
ASJ: Again, I really hate saying this (it’s equivalent to lighting myself on fire) but I have to say that the Miami Heat would come out of the East. Too fast, too many shooters, D Wade still being D Wade – and more comfortable being the sidekick - and having the best player of the planet would not hurt their chances.

As for the West, well it’s still OKC (unless Russ Westbrook pulls a Stephon Marbury in a series)…but…it is a tougher road for OKC to get their shot at revenge vs. the Heat. The Clippers, Grizzlies, Spurs and even the Lakers (all it takes is getting out of Round 1 vs. the Spurs, and their Cinderella run is on) can be capable West champions.

6) Who will win the NBA Championship?
RM: Thunder vs Heat: Part 2. Miami will win again because they are a better defensive team and their cohesion and chemistry as a unit are better than OKC.
JP: Gotta go with the Heat.
JE: I still think it's the Heat's to lose. But if the NYK shooters get hot at the right time, look out!
JS: San Antonio Spurs over Miami Heat in 6 games (Not the most unbiased of comments).
ASJ: I hate growing older in a time that Lebron James stabbed Cleveland’s back, figured out how to play at his fullest when he teamed up with two All-Stars, and playing at his apex right now. I hate seeing another championship parade happening in South Beach this year. But there is nothing that can be done about this. Unless some Boston fans would do this to Lebron (of course I’m just kidding):

7) Other comments? – Please take note that in case the person didn’t put any additional comments, I took the liberty of doing so on his behalf ;)
RM: Chris Bosh = Finals MVP. Believe it. (okay, fine, I did this)
JP: Go Heat. hahaha
JE: I think Carmelo will have a big series against his draft-mates, should they reach the Eastern Conference Finals against the defending Champions. Tyson Chandler's help defense should prove to be a big deterrent against the BIG 3's persistent attack in the paint. Heat-haters should pray that the JR Smith show proves to be a big hit as well. :)

You think Lakers can bully the Spurs inside? Intriguing matchup between the two perennial contenders. It's just sad we won't be seeing some Kobe drama in the playoffs. Love him or hate him, we'll all miss his presence once he hangs up his sneakers.
JS: Breakout Players for the 2013 Playoffs: Jimmy Butler (CHI) and Kawhi Leonard (SAS).
ASJ: Actually, I’m NOT kidding. Kidnap LeBron NOW. (okay, fine, I did this, too)

Fill up your brackets!
(image from

My Synthesis:
It’s easy, really. The Miami Heat are the heavy favorites to win. They’ll get booed in every road game for sure, but they’ll end up with the last laugh most of the time anyway. LeBron is just on another level. Ray Allen is pissed Curry broke his record, so I’m sure he’ll be on Jesus Shuttlesworth mode. D-Wade will be awesome. Chris Bosh won’t win Finals MVP, but he will be strong, too. All the guys know this, though Jay wasn’t as upfront in admitting it (haha).

Right now, however, the team I’m really excited to watch closely, along with many Pinoy fans I’m sure, is Kobe’s Lakers, or, more timely, the Kobe-less Lakers. I think they have a decent shot at upsetting San Antonio (sorry Jay) and then maybe another decent shot at upending either DEN or GSW. IF they get to the West Finals, then that’s SOMETHING already, but, hey, with maybe the best frontline in the whole planet (because Dwight + Pau is can be the best, you know), anything can happen.

Out East, my pick is for the Knicks to be the biggest stumbling blocks to Miami. I love Indiana and I think the Nets have the talent to give LBJ & Co. some fits, but by and large I think the Knicks have the perfect combo of talent, relative health, and timing (could they be peaking at the right time?) to make my buddies Rolly and Joey really nervous.

What do YOU think? Hit us up on Facebook -- -- or Twitter -- @Hoopnut. We’ll be making some more posts featuring “regular fans” soon, so tell us if you want to be featured! J

Don’t forget: If you believe we deserve it, please do NOT forget to nominate Hoop Nut as the BEST SPORTS BLOG in the 2013 Globe Tatt Awards. We would love for you to show your appreciation for our blog and our pioneering indie sports coverage spirit by doing this :) Cheers! Basketball NEVER stops!!!
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