I chipped in on today’s ESPN 5-on-5 to make predictions on the fast-arriving Playoffs. Check out the piece on ESPN.com to read the rest from Kevin Arnovitz, Jim Cavan, Ian Levy, and Darius Soriano. Here are my responses:
1. Fact or Fiction: The Lakers will make the playoffs.
Spencer Ryan Hall, Salt City Hoops: Fiction. The Lakers seem like the college student who assumes his dad’s connections will get him into law school, but he never bothers to go to class or study. The rejection letter is going to be a painful wakeup call in Lakers Land. All but one of their last eight games are at Staples, but every opponent is tough.
2. Fact or Fiction: The Jazz will make the playoffs.
Hall: Fact. It’s possible I’m simply intoxicated with the euphoria of the first five-game Utah win streak of the season, but the Jazz are finally playing like a team that could make noise in the playoffs. The memory of the recent 3-12 stretch is all but gone and the team is peaking at the right time with a healthy Mo Williams.
3. Fact or Fiction: The Mavs will get to shave this season.
Hall: Fact. Mercifully, the basketball gods will rescue us from further assault by the Nowitzki Beard, starting as early as Tuesday night against the Lakers. Stealing a win in L.A. would finally put the Mavs at .500 and allow us to bring the women and children out of hiding. [The editors wisely removed my joke about the surprising upset of Dirk Nowitzki looking the most like a caveman on a roster that includes Chris Kaman.]
4. Fact or Fiction: The Knicks are contenders.
Hall: Fiction. The path to the Finals for New York will probably be Chicago (first round), Indiana (conference semis) and Miami (East finals). I would love to see J.R. Smith get a chance to go seven games against the Heat, but I’ll be surprised if the Knicks even get past the first round.
5. Fact or Fiction: Without Manu, the Spurs will be eliminated early.
Hall: Fact. Not trying to jinx anything for the Jazz, but the stars are aligning for Utah to make some noise in the playoffs. With San Antonio “struggling” without Manu, a surging Utah team might have a chance to steal some games in a first-round matchup. More probably, though, a second-round matchup with the Grizzlies or the Clippers could undo the great season in S.A.