A Comprehensive Guide to the NBA Postseason: An Interview With Nate Theriault

The NBA season is winding down, and teams have already begun benching their stars in order to better prepare them for the playoffs. The San Antonio Spurs have quietly won the top seed in the West, and the Derrick Rose led Chicago Bulls trumped the Miami Heat to secure the top slot in the Eastern Conference.

I recently took to the social network to meet up with Nate Theriault, a Media Studies major at USM, who enjoys writing about the NBA, and everything it involves. Hopefully this will give NBA fans, and those who only follow “The Association” sparingly a guide as to what to look for.

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At work recently, I stumbled upon the idea of a new article series that would be refreshing, interesting, and

Trav: Alrighty Nate, let’s start with the Eastern Conference. The Knicks went from an under performing team, with Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire stumbling through every game, to a squad led by Jeremy Lin, and most recently, a team that is riding on Anthony’s shoulder, which have been lighting up scoreboards recently. They will have the unfortunate pleasure of dealing with the Miami Heat in the first round. Do the Knicks have ANY chance?

Melo has been carrying the Knicks lately, but will it continue in the post-season? Nate doesn't think so.

Nate: I like the Knicks, they have Carmelo going OFF lately. Then they have role players like J.R. Smith and Steve Novak coming off the bench… The one factor I feel that will hold the Knicks back from beating the Heat is the play of Amare and Carmelo on the floor at the same time. Amare and Carmelo are players that thrive with the ball in their hands. And they both need the ball to be most effective. Coach Mike Woodson has to find a way to get the two starts to coexisit on the court, but I just don’t see that happening in such a short period of time with the playoffs starting this weekend

Trav: OK so besides the Heat, who else do you like to clean up the first round? The Bulls should handle the Sixers, and the Celtics square off with the Hawks, and the Magic going on the road to face the surprisingly skillful Pacers. How is the East going to shake up?

Nate: The Bulls should take the Sixers in at most 6 games. I like the Celtics over the Hawks. The C’s did beat Atlanta in ATL earlier this year, and barely lost against their starters while Rondo, Pierce, KG, and Allen were all out. The Magic-Pacers series won’t be that exciting. Howard is out for the rest of the season for back surgery, so I feel like the Pacers will take that matchup with relative ease. So the East should have the top 4 seeds making it out of the first round, maybe the Hawks over the C’s, but no real upsets. The Heat and Bulls are clearly the top two teams, but you can never rule out veteran play of the C’s

Trav: I’ve been in love with the Bulls this season, mainly because I really like Rose, and the person that he is off of the court as well as on it. That being said, the Heat, and LeBron James in particular have had a crazy good season. I think if the Heat had captured the top seed, they would’ve knocked off the Bulls, but with Chi Town hosting that first game, it changes everything. When all is said and done, who’s going to represent the East?

Nate: That’s a tough question. The Bulls do have homecourt advantage over the Heat being the 1 seed. Miami absolutely is the best team on their home court. They are 28-5, so at home the Heat most certainly have the upper hand. But, since the playoffs have a 2-2-1-1-1 format, the Heat will have to muster up some road warrior skills. As much as I love Rose and the Bulls, in the end it comes down to the star power of the Heat. Wade and James are freaks. Lebron is coming into this postseason with so much speculation of his play, I think this year he goes off and shows people why he’s the best player alive.

Trav: Shifting the conversation a bit to the West, Kevin Durant has a VERY small lead over Kobe for the scoring title (KD: 27.96, Mamba: 27.91)  with Durant having two remaining contests to Kobe’s one. These last few games should be exciting but who takes it in the end? We all know Kobe secretly loves the Jordan comparisons, and is his hunger for a 3rd scoring title going to take him to the promise land?

Kobe's hungry for another scoring title, but odds are that Kevin Durant captures his third title in as many years.

Nate: Haha, Kobe does like the comparisons, but I think he’s too mature and wise now to really let a scoring title affect his gameplay. (like not passing to open teammates, forcing shots) The thing is both teams have locked up playoffs spots, OKC at 2 and LAL at 3, so it’s not like they’re going all out every night, they’re looking to rest up for the postseason. I see Durant taking the title over The Black Mamba simply because he has 2 chances to do so to Kobe’s one. Kobe’s one game is against the Kings too, meaning there really won’t be much defense so Kobe might sit out the second half, or even, the whole game. Durant gets it done for the third time in his short career.

Trav: Keeping the eye on the Lakers and Thunder, you CAN’T convince me that Ron Artest [fuck that Metta World Peace garbage], didn’t “accidentally” clock James Harden. As of now, the suspension still hasn’t been handled down, although it’s expected to come. How long should Artest be out for, and how huge of a loss is Harden and his beard for the 2nd seeded Thunder

Nate: Haha yeah, we’ll call him Ron Ron from here out. Clearly, the hit was no accident, Artest felt Harden near him and swung to injure him. You just look at Artest’s past and it speaks for itself. I feel like Stern is going to come down hard with his suspension, he needs to set an example out of Artest. If it’s anything less than 5 games I will be shocked. He honestly should be suspended for the rest of the post season. And the loss of Harden is comparable to the loss of Westbrook or Durant. Without Harden there’s no hardware for the Thunder. Simple as that. He brings so much to the table, by far the best player in the NBA off the bench. As long as Harden’s back for the second round the Thunder should be fine.

Trav: The Spurs really snuck up on everyone this year and proved that age is just a number, as they are led by journeymen Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, and Tony Parker. Are you buying into the Spurs, or are some of the other squads in the West going to make a run?

The Spurs aren't getting any younger, and this is Tim Duncan's best shot at a fourth title

Nate: You know, every season the people hate on the Spurs. Sure, they lost last year in the first round to the Grizzlies, but they didn’t have Giniobli, and Duncan was playing horribly to say the least. With the Spurs big three at full force the Spurs are a legitimate contender, and I have them going to the Western Conference finals. They have won 22 or their last 25 games, which is ridiculous. Do not sleep on the one seed Spurs. (who would sleep on a one seed anyway?!)

Trav: So in the East we’ve got the Bulls and Heat in the Eastern Conference finals, with the Heat taking it in the end. Who do you see reaching the Finals in the Western Conference, and who will square off with the Heat for the Championship?

As for the NBA Finals, you can say a lot of teams: The Thunder, Spurs, or Lakers in the West. And the Bulls and Heat in the east. I love the Celtics, and with their veteran leadership, you can’t count them out, even though it’s a long shot. But with all these great teams I gotta go with a Heat Lakers finals. People might ask about the Thunder or Spurs, but the Lakers acquistion of Ramon Sessions is so key for them. He is a great scorer and can push the tempo. With the two towers of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol down low it’s going to be tough scoring inside. Of course, you have Kobe Bryant. He wants that 6th ring to tie Michael. And what Kobe wants he usually gets.

Trav: So we’ve got the heat and the (Lakers/Thunder, whoever you think is winning the west) set to do battle for the title. Which teams is hoisting the trophy at the end?

The Finals of Lakers Heat should be an absolute classic. I see it going 6 games minimum. When it’s all said and done I gotta say the Heat get over that hump and get a championship. If LeBron and company don’t win a championship, I see them breaking up the squad and revamping totally next year

Trav: To wrap it all up Nate, let’s get some predictions. NBA MVP? Finals MVP? How many games does it take the Miami Heat to win it all?

Nate says it best. If BronBron doesn't win a ring... who cares?

The Heat won’t get rid of the Lakers easily, and the series will go six or seven games. As for the Regular season MVP race, it’s tough. You can’t go wrong saying Durant or James. Both are amazing players who mean so much to their respective teams. Durant is the best scorer in the league. The only knock you can say against KD is he can’t do everything amazing; passing, rebounding, and defending. That’s why James has the edge. He can do everything, and do it extremely well. He can put up near triple double performances every night. So regular season MVP to James. But, if he doesn’t win a championship who cares??

But for finals MVP, here’s a bit of a curveball, but not really… Dwayne Wade. He’s won a ship in 06 leading the a heat squad with hardly half the talent of this year’s team. I see D-Wade coming up CLUTCH in these Finals, and winning two ‘ship’s will forever solidify his spot in NBA history as one of the best 2’s to ever play the game.

Trav: A big thank you to Nate again for taking time to answer a few questions, and on his 21st birthday no less. Check out Totally Biased in the future for more one-on-one comprehensive interviews with budding sports analysts!

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