Checking in on the NBA Playoffs

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Howard Bryant talks about Friday night's games and how the series are shaking out with John Ydstie. Bryant says the Pistons could hit trouble and that the Spurs are looking strong.


Week one of the NBA play-offs is over. Sixteen teams are playing to keep their season live and to take the NBA title away from the San Antonio Spurs. Our own Howard "The Hoopster" Bryant joins us now. Good morning, Howard.

HOWARD BRYANT: Good morning, John, how are you?

YDSTIE: I'm well, thank you. I guess the big surprise is that Philadelphia split games in Detroit and then won by 20 points at home last night. They're playing some serious basketball.

BRYANT: Well, it's been great, and I thought that when people talk about March Madness with the NCAA tournament, I have always said that this year was going to be perhaps the greatest year of NBA basketball in the post-season because of all the different twists and turns and just great talent that's out there.

And to see the Detroit Pistons down 2-1, people had figure that it was going to be - we were going to go retro this year. You had a chance for a Celtics-Lakers, you had a chance for a Celtics-Pistons in the Eastern Conference finals. And the Pistons are in a lot of trouble. They have to win this game, game four, or - you don't want to be down 3-1, or it's over for them.

YDSTIE: Yeah. The San Antonio Spurs are up three games to none against the Phoenix Suns. That's a big of a surprise, too.

BRYANT: Really phenomenal series, especially when you look at the beginning, you'd say, okay, this is a first-round game. This should be a finals game, obviously, a Western Conference finals series, especially after game one's fantastic double overtime game. And the Suns just haven't recovered. You have Shaquille O'Neal there. You have Steve Nash, a two-time MVP there.

But this is the problem with the NBA because if you watch the marketing, if you only look at the commercials, you would think that LeBron James and Kobe Bryant are the only things worth watching, and the San Antonio Spurs, if you really, really like the game of basketball, if you like the way it's played - if you love the way it's played, they are the team to watch - fantastic, fantastic basketball.

YDSTIE: Until last night, New Orleans, the New Orleans Hornets had dominated the Dallas Mavericks - the Mavericks won last night. Could the Hornets really make it to the finals, or do you think it is more likely we're going to get a retro Celtics-Lakers match-up?

BRYANT: Well, I actually think that the Spurs are the team to beat in the West simply because a team that's won four titles and are the defending champions, I never bet against them.

I'm kind of a prove-it-to-me guy when it comes to New Orleans. They've had a great year. Byron Scott, a (unintelligible). Chris Paul may be the best player in the league, maybe the MVP. But I'm still a prove-it-to-me guy for them simply because it's their first go-around. I think that the Spurs are going to be much tougher. The Lakers, with Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant also very tough, but when they're at home, the New Orleans Hornets might be the best team in basketball.

YDSTIE: And the Celtics coming out of the east?

BRYANT: Well, you can't talk to a Boston guy without saying how much fun it would be. The Boston Celtics haven't won a championship since I was in high school, and that was 20 years ago. So it's a Green Bay Packers, Montreal Canadians, New York Yankees thing. It's time to see the Celtics back in.

YDSTIE: Howard Bryant, thanks very much.

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