Batum blog: Awards and predictions


In this post, which he began a few hours before the start of the playoffs, Nicolas announces his predictions for the first round as well as for the individual awards.

It's going to be wide open in the west, as usual. In the first round, the series are going to be hot. In the east, a little less, I think, but in the west it's going to be war. Even Memphis-San Antonio is going to be competitive. I'm not saying that they will beat the Spurs, but it will be a battle. They have a good little team. Tony Allen, Shane Battier on the wings, they are the shit, those guys, on defense. Ginobili is going to suffer -- there are two of them. They have Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol on the interior, Darrell Arthur, O.J. Mayo, Conley. That's a good group.

San Antonio-Memphis: 4-1 for San Antonio, but with some tough matches.

LA-New Orleans: Same thing, 4-1.

OKC-Denver: 4-3.

Dallas-Portland: I'm not saying anything! I don't want to jinx us.

Bulls-Indiana: Sweep.

Miami-Philly: Sweep also.

Boston-New York: I really feel 4-3 for Boston. That's going to be a hot one, and I don't see the Knicks losing at the Garden in playoff mode. Besides, they've had a strong [lit. funny] end of the season.

Orlando-Atlanta: I might surprise you, but I'm saying 2-4, Atlanta. (Keep in mind,, this post was written before the defeat of the Magic in Game 1. -- ed.) I don't know why, but I feel it. I'm not feeling Orlando. Maybe I'm wrong, but if there has to be an upset in the first round, it's that series.

That's it for round one. For the following rounds, I don't want to say anything about the west! In the east, I do want to give my opinion -- but not for the west! :) In the east, a Miami-Chicago matchup wouldn't be too bad. The Bulls, I think they'll be there. I find the Bulls very, very strong. In the east, that's the best-constructed team; I don't see anyone who can stop them. Everybody has his role and knows what to do. I don't see who can stop them. It's true that you almost always know what's going to happen when they're on offense, but have you also seen how they defend? And behind that they score, don't you worry. Rose goes "bip-bip" and goes right around you. If that doesn't work, there's Kyle Korver at the 3-point line or the ball goes to Luol Deng, or to Boozer inside. If not, Joakim grabs the rebound and puts it in. Sometimes basketball is so easy!

The defenses definitely raise the tone in the playoffs, and they are going to target Rose, but nobody has been able to get hold of him in 82 games, and it's going to be difficult to solve that in the playoffs. Because the defenses may raise their level, but so do the great players! And even on the days when that might not work, there are players like Luol Deng, who for me is the NBA's ultimate X factor, or Carlos Boozer, and even people like Brewer, Watson, Korver, Noah, Gibson: This team is really well built. And they are excellent at this moment! I don't see Miami stopping them. And at the same time, Boston could do a little Boston 2010 and knock out Miami in the second round, giving us a Bulls-Celtics conference final.

Okay, sorry again, but I don't want to jinx us so I won't speak about the west. So next, I'll go on to the awards.

MVP: D-Rose -- no great surprise. To me, it makes sense. Who else do you want to put there? I thought about Dirk at the beginning, but then he was injured and his level dropped a bit. Some people talk about LeBron. But San Antonio lost its last game, making Chicago the best team of the regular season this year, and Derrick Rose is the best player on the best team. Thus, he is the MVP. That's how the MVP of the last five years have been determined. I think that 90% of people consider Rose the season MVP. I'm not saying that LeBron hasn't been good this year, sure, but for me it's Rose.

MIP: I might surprise you, but I put Derrick Rose here too. He has improved tremendously. Fine, I know he isn't going to win it. I think they'll give it to Kevin Love. LaMarcus, in my opinion, won't get it -- he has been snubbed all year, poor guy.

Defensive Player of the Year: Here, I would say Tyson Chandler. But I think that Dwight Howard will get it. However, Chandler deserves it -- he completely changed the image of Dallas. You can't play the Mavs the same way since he's been there. He brought them an enormous inside defensive presence. But I still think they're going to give it to Dwight.

Rookie of the Year: Griffin. Period. Nothing more to say, no need to go on. One YouTube link is enough. :) I don't think any rookie has been so dominant in a loooooong time.

Coach of the Year: Thibodeau or McMillan. And I'm not saying that so he'll put me back in the starting 5. Ha! It's because we've had so many injuries and we're still right there. And Thibodeau, for a "rookie" coach, with a changed team, it's amazing what he's done.

Sixth Man: Lamar Odom. There's no discussion to have. People like Terry, Crawford, J.R. Smith have had a good season, but for me there's no debate -- it's Lamar Odom. Just Lamar Odom. To me, he and Luol Deng are among the most undervalued players in the NBA.

That's it for my predictions. I'll try to keep you updated during the playoffs!

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