Looks Like Another Spurs-Pistons NBA Final
ALEX CHADWICK, host:
Basketball. The NBA playoffs begin this weekend. Joining us for a preview, the sports brothers, Randy and Jason Sklar. Gents, welcome back.
Mr. RANDY AND Mr. JASON SKLAR (ESPN, Cheap Seats): Thank you. Great to be here.
CHADWICK: Looking at how the season ended, a lot of people are predicting this year's just going to be just like last year, the San Antonio Spurs versus the Detroit Pistons. What do you guys say?
Mr. SKLAR: Well, it doesn't matter to us because we prefer to think of these playoffs as the equivalent of watching the movie Titanic. You pretty much know how it's going to end, but you got to tune in for the costumes, snappy dialogue and soundtrack.
Mr. SKLAR: The truth of the matter is this. The Pistons and Spurs will probably end up facing each other in the finals, but that doesn't mean that the early rounds can't be exciting. We're all about the process.
Mr. SKLAR: The journey.
Mr. SKLAR: Not just the goal, Alex. And we are here to say that there will be more memorable moments throughout the journey before we get to the predictable ending.
CHADWICK: Ah. Okay, well, early round match-ups; what are you going to watch?
Mr. SKLAR: Well, the first-round match-ups in the Western Conference will probably be the most exciting for the whole playoffs. There is a big potential for some upsets here. Specifically, keep an eye out for the Lakers/Suns match-up. Steve Nash, the league's MVP last year, has led the Suns to a remarkable year this year, over 50 wins, and a second seed, without their star from last year, Amare Stoudemire, who was injured this whole season.
Nash has led the league in assists this year again and proven that he truly does make the people around him better.
CHADWICK: Really exciting player.
Mr. SKLAR: He is an exciting player, and he's Canadian too. But they are facing Kobe and the Lakers. Kobe, of course, was the scoring leader this year for the league, and true, that is, in part, to the fact that he likes passing less than Britney Spears likes putting her baby in a car seat. Now, you know that Kobe hasn't always been the most popular guy, even in Los Angeles, but some say that he ran Shaq out of town and they haven't won a championship since then. It was downright fashionable, really, to blame Kobe.
Mr. SKLAR: I actually overheard two women out at Trader Joe's blame Kobe for global warming.
Mr. SKLAR: I think that's a little -- that's harsh. Too much. Now, that is until he dropped 81 points on the Toronto Raptors in one game this year. Now, the other factor that makes the Lakers so dangerous is their coach, Phil Jackson, The Zen Master. Remember, we said it's all about the journey. Phil Jackson had never lost a first-round playoff match, and he hopes that this streak will remain unbroken.
CHADWICK: You've been talking about the West a lot. What about the East? You guys think the Pistons are good. I'm saying the Washington Wizards. This is it.
Mr. R. SKLAR: The Wizards are a good team, and actually they have a chance to go pretty far, but for our money, we really feel like Detroit is the odds on favorite.
Mr. J. SKLAR: Yeah, best record in the NBA. They have some stars, Rick Hamilton, Chauncey Billups, but they play like a team, and we've said this time and again, have we not, Randy?
Mr. R. SKLAR: Yes, we have.
Mr. J. SKLAR: Instead of building a dream team for America to use in the next Olympics, they should just send the Pistons.
Mr. R. SKLAR: Now, they have a new coach this year, Flip Saunders, the Pistons, and with Flip Saunders they have proved that they can play both fast and slow tempo. Probably most importantly they have the best record in both leagues, which means they have home court throughout the entire playoffs.
Mr. J. SKLAR: But if we have to pick another team in the east, you got to mention...
CHADWICK: Hold it. The Wizards?
Mr. J. SKLAR: I was going to say the Wizards, but I'm going to say the Miami Heat. They have Coach Pat Riley, who has won four championships; they have a go-to player in Dwayne Wade, and they are not the Wizards.
Mr. R. SKLAR: That's right. No, I'm just kidding.
Mr. J. SKLAR: No, but they have Shaquille O'Neal, who -- Shaquille O'Neal had a very subdued regular season, but if he comes to play in the playoffs, he will silence a lot of his critics for playing down in the regular season.
CHADWICK: I know Dwayne Wade is great, but when you say the Miami Heat has a go-to player, and you don't say Shaquille O'Neal, isn't that amazing?
Mr. SKLAR: It is kind of amazing, but when you think about it, you need an inside game and an outside game if you're going to even make Shaq. If they double-team or triple-team Shaquille O'Neal, which sometimes happens, if Dwayne Wade can pick up the slack, he is your go-to guy.
CHADWICK: Okay, the game of the weekend, what do you say?
Mr. SKLAR: I think it's just exciting to see the Clippers in the playoffs. The town of Los Angeles might spontaneously combust. The Clippers are in the playoffs.
Mr. SKLAR: And at a higher seed than the Lakers; I mean, I would say that's the game to watch, if anything, just to support the Clippers.
CHADWICK: Sports brothers, Randy and Jason Sklar, hosts of the show, Cheap Seats, which airs on the cable channel ESPN Classic. Gents, thank you.
Mr. SKLAR: Thank you, Alex.
Mr. SKLAR: Great to be here.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.