Video: Amar’e Stoudemire Pulled The Old Fake Handshake Trick On Shane Battier Last Night After Fouling Out

What’s great about this clip and can be faintly heard in the background is that the Heat’s PA announcer says “he has been extinguished from the game” in reference to the hand injury.

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NBA Playoff Column Part I

Don’t be fooled by the false narratives of the NBA playoffs.  This is not the year of the lockout.  It shouldn’t be remembered as the year that was tainted by injuries and worn-down bodies either.  No, this year’s NBA playoffs should be remembered as a turning point in the history of the league.  It is time for the next generation of NBA talent to finally seize control and unseat the Duncans, Kobes, and Garnetts of the world.  That’s what should happen.  What’s beautiful is that we have no idea if it will.

In the past few weeks we’ve witnessed an assortment of players losing their cool whether through Metta World Peace going all Ron Artest on James Harden’s dome, Rondo chest-bumping a referee, or Amar’e Stoudemire losing a chunk of his hand to the fire extinguisher glass panel.  There’s a reason for it.  This is the most wide-open playoffs in recent memory and every team believes they have a legitimate shot of stealing the title.

Some of those illusions are more realistic than others (apologies to Sixers, Nuggets, Clippers, Jazz, Knicks, Magic, Bulls, and Hawks fan…this isn’t your year).  Let’s try and evaluate where we’re at right now and predict the outcomes of some of these series.

Jazz vs Spurs (SA leads 1-0):

Not much to say here unless Parker or Ginobli gets hurt.  San Antonio should advance in four or five games.  I’ll be interested to see if the Spurs have enough on their front line to get past a team like the Grizzlies or the Lakers or both in order to make the Finals.  The Jazz played them surprisingly hard in game one and if they had any depth on the wing they might have been able to pull the improbable upset.

Prediction: Spurs in five 

Sixers vs Bulls (tied 1-1)

At this point it doesn’t really matter if the Bulls lose, because they have absolutely no chance of getting by Miami.  Philly came out strong last night, but I doubt they’ll be able to sustain their unrealistic shooting percentages once Thibodeau reigns in the Bulls defense.  Who knows how much heart Chicago will exhibit though?  A round one upset and a dream run to the conference finals are all possible.  I say they go out in round two.

Prediction: Bulls in six

Clippers vs Grizzlies (LAC leads 1-0)

A lot was made of the Clippers all-time comeback, many even speculating that Memphis would simply be unable to overcome the emotional shock associated with the loss.  I’m going in a completely opposite direction.  I think the Grizzlies realize if they had just thrown the ball into the paint in that fourth they could have won by 40.  Look for the Grizzlies to come out angry and embarrass a Clippers squad that is not even close to being ready for a legitimate playoff run.  Memphis is better than the Clippers in every aspect except point guard, but not even CP3 will be enough.

Prediction: Grizz in six

Celtics vs Hawks

Had Josh Smith not gotten injured, we were seriously going to have to consider a world with Atlanta in the conference finals.  I’m sorry but it was happening.  Now that we don’t have to live with that ugly reality, I expect Rajon Rondo to come out with a serious eff you edge the rest of the playoffs.  The first obvious reason is to apologize to his teammates, but the second is one you may not know about.  Rondo has a serious rivalry with Derrick Rose and feels deep offense to the idea that Rose is a better PG than him.  With D-Rose out of the playoffs, Rondo will realize this rare opportunity to prove himself.  Translation: expect the triple doubles and the W’s to start racking up in the next few weeks.

Prediction: Celtics in six

Nuggets vs Lakers (LAL lead 2-0)

It’s not easy being a Nuggets fan these days.  Despite the immense amount of pride I felt in Denver earning the six seed, there’s still a certain disappointment that goes along with it all.  Yes, what the front office managed to accomplish in light of the last twelve months is nothing short of remarkable, but what’s the point if the result is the same?  Losing in the first round of the playoffs for a decade straight sucks.  The Lakers just do everything better in this series: they take care of the ball better (cough, FARIED late turnover, cough) , they execute better (cough, AFFLALO can’t knock down an open jumper, cough), and they have star players.  What’s disappointing though is that I’m not sure the talent gap between the two teams as a whole is all that much.  A couple of lineup tweaks or open shots knocked down and this series could very well be tied going back to Denver.  I don’t want to start having the George Karl job conversation yet, but the thoughts are creeping into my head.

Prediction: Lakers in four

Magic vs Pacers (tied 1-1)

Give the Magic a ton of credit for gutting out that victory in game number one.  My issue with them is that they barely won that game and Jameer Nelson and Jason Richardson somehow both managed to put on Dwight’s Superman cape.  That won’t continue to happen as Indiana makes adjustments and uses their depth.  Good for the Pacers at organically building a new team in the aftermath of the Malice at the Palace.

Prediction: Pacers in five

Mavericks vs Thunder (OKC leads 2-0)

What’s sad for Dallas is that they actually should be winning this series by two games right now.  The Thunder are executing poorly, Durant is shooting at an awful cut, and it’s taken Derek “bleeping” Fisher to bail them out from two embarrassing losses at home.  And can we finally start having the conversation about how badly Durant has played?  Why is their no internet outrage about Durant while Westbrook puts this team on his shoulders?  I hate it.  I I hate it all.  Westbrook is playing at an MVP level and he gets zero attention for it.  I repeat this way too often on the site, but the NBA playoffs are all about execution, most especially if you’re going to beat a team like the Heat.  The Thunder have been awful at execution thus far in this series.  It will need to improve if they want to finally make the leap to a title.  Hint: it won’t.

Prediction: Thunder in 5

Heat vs Knicks

It’s so frustrating that this Knicks team can’t figure out what it needs to do.  They’re so perfectly constructed for a long playoff run that it actually makes me angry as a basketball fan that they continue to achieve mediocrity, which might actually be far too generous a description.  I understand Stoudemire’s frustration and don’t fault him for the moment of weakness.  He gave everything to that franchise only to see it hand over everything to Carmelo and take away his role.  He knows they should be better and he took it out on that glass as a result.  Sucks for us, and him.  The Heat are my prediction as your 2012 NBA champion though.  The playoffs are shaping up perfectly for them.  Think about it.  They’re going to sweep the Knicks, they’ll polish off the Pacers in at most five games, and then they’ll be plenty rested to face either the Celtics or Bulls in the East Finals.  Without having to expend very much energy, they should easily advance to the NBA Finals where they’ll again have the edge over a foe who likely used everything they had in the tank to make it out of a far more difficult bracket in the West.  This is LeBron’s moment.  He’s the best player on the best team that is best set up to win the NBA playoffs.  There is literally no excuse if it doesn’t happen this time around, and yet I’m still nervous as hell putting my reputation on the line with that pick!

Prediction: Heat in 4

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