Playoff Ruminations: Which Remaining Playoff Team Do You Favor?

Dave,

Who do you want to win the title this year? Seems like a bad batch all around. I'd like your personal feelings and anything you think makes a difference to the Blazers, if anything.

--Rob

You asked this before the Western Conference Finals were decided but it seems like a legit topic still. Sorry about the delay.

From the Blazers' perspective there could be a difference, but it's slight. Still, if you're looking to split hairs the answer here is Oklahoma City. The Blazers have cap space this summer. Other teams do as well. That means it's to Portland's advantage to have as many free agent and trade opportunities on the market as possible. That's not to say the Blazers would actually sign anybody from remaining playoff teams, but they want plenty of names available to tempt other teams even if they, themselves, have no interest.

The Celtics are likely to break up their core, setting adrift Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, perhaps putting Rajon Rondo on the market...who knows? That might not happen if they win a title. How do you tear apart a team that just won it all? The Heat won't shop LeBron James and probably not Dwyane Wade but if they fail to make the Finals--maybe even if they just fail to win them--more guys besides Erik Spoelstra might be on their way out of town. In theory you'd want Boston to beat the Heat and make the Finals but then lose to the Thunder for maximum player displacement. The Thunder aren't parting with anybody off of their team no matter what happens--at least not if they can help it--so them winning or losing doesn't weigh as much.

As far as personal sentiment, it's the exact opposite of everything I just said. If I had my druthers the Spurs would have won it all. They've won before so there's no emotional baggage there, plus I respect them...as any basketball purist-type would. That option is out now, of course. My second choice would be the Heat, just because it's expected and nobody will care. That's the funny thing about this Miami club. It's not like they'll win one and everybody will say, "Alright! We love you now! You have fulfilled your potential so you are accepted into the club!" Instead everyone will shrug and say, "So what? You were supposed to do that." Unless they win 3 or more titles nobody's going to give them credit for squat, let alone affection. That would be funny to see...especially for LeBron. He'd be like, "I justified myself now, right? Got a title like you said. So now you'll stop talking about me behind my back!" And everybody will say, "No...we can't root for you anyway. You're the best player in the league but you still suck." Then he'll be, "That's not fair!" And the whole world will respond, "Yup."

After that it starts getting more distasteful. I almost liked the Celtics' 2008 title. It was cool to see the Big Three win it and they beat the Lakers, after all. But, you know, Kevin Garnett is dang annoying. I wanted him to get one because he has been a great player. He would have been underrated without a ring. But one is plenty. Rondo and Paul Pierce aren't that likable and neither are Boston fans when their teams start winning. So yeah, I'd rather have Miami win.

And then come the poor Thunder. I feel bad about this because it's unfair to them. They're good. They're doing it the right way. They have great fans, they're in a small town, their team has legit stars but is also more than the sum of its parts, they're humble and focused. They're the new Blazers...what the Blazers were back in the Drexler years as far as spirit. For Oklahoma City this is their version of Blazermania from the 70's too. Everybody should love everything about them.

The problem is, we're the OLD Blazers. We did this first, twice maybe, but we're not even close anymore. It's like having a thing on the stage and then somebody younger comes along and does your thing...does it better than you have in a couple decades. All of a sudden you're backstage with the crew muttering under your breath. Naturally the whole Oden-Durant thing doesn't help. If OKC does become really good it's going to be sick to go back and count the number of championships the Blazers likely forfeited because of two draft selections: 1984 and 2007. I don't want to do that. It's selfish, it's unworthy, and it's not like me. But my heart just can't get behind Thunder titles. Not one bit. Maybe if they were still the Sonics I could respect the idea more, but even that runs against it. I'm going with emotion here. I don't want to hear about any OKC championship parades. If that happens, just cover your ears and go "La La La!" until it's all over.

What about you guys? I've seen scattered talk around the site. Condense it here. Who do you prefer to take the title among this not-so-charming group of contenders and why? Weigh in below.

--Dave (blazersub@gmail.com)

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