NBA capsules

May 05, 2002|By Milton Kent

NBA capsules

Eastern Conference

No. 1 New Jersey vs. No. 4 Charlotte

Playoff path: The Nets beat Indiana 3-games-to-2 in the first round. The Hornets beat Orlando in four games.

Season series: The Nets beat Charlotte three of four times in the regular season.

Nets outlook: New Jersey has reached the second round of the playoffs for the second time since joining the NBA in 1976-77 and the first time since 1984. ... Jason Kidd has reached the second round for only the second time in six career playoff appearances. ... Keith Van Horn averaged 16 points and shot 45.5 percent from three-point range against the Hornets. ... Van Horn (27 points) and Kenyon Martin (29) had playoff career highs in the 120-109 double-overtime win over Indiana on Thursday.

Hornets outlook: Jamal Mashburn, who missed the last two games of the Orlando series with a gastrointestinal virus, is questionable for Game 1. He is still suffering dizziness. ... Baron Davis averaged 25.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 9.3 assists in the Orlando series and has consecutive triple doubles, the first time that has happened in the playoffs since 1984. ... Charlotte will be without center Jamaal Magloire, suspended for Game 1 for a flagrant foul on Tracy McGrady in Game 4 of the Magic series.

Bottom line: Davis is blossoming into a superstar at the wrong time for the Nets, and will be a handful for Kidd on defense. If Mashburn can bounce back, the Hornets have enough experience and defensive discipline to make things tough for New Jersey.

The pick: Charlotte in six.

No. 2 Detroit vs. No. 3 Boston

Playoff path: The Pistons defeated Toronto 3-2 in the first round. The Celtics beat Philadelphia in five games.

Season series: The teams split four games, each winning at home.

Pistons outlook: After five straight first-round losses, Detroit advances to the conference semifinals for the first time since 1991, the year after the franchise's last championship. ... The Pistons went 11-0 this season when Jerry Stackhouse and Clifford Robinson each scored 20, that includes a 109-101 win over Boston on March 24. ... Detroit is the only team of the eight remaining in the playoffs not to have a player in the top 25 in playoff scoring, as Stackhouse (16.4) is 27th. ... Ben Wallace is second to Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki in rebounding among the remaining playoff players (15.0 a game).

Celtics outlook: Boston is through to the second round for the first time since 1992. ... Paul Pierce's 46-point performance in Game 5 against Philadelphia on Friday included hitting eight of 10 shots from three-point range, as well as dishing out six assists. ... Pierce, who is second in the league among active playoff scorers (30.2) is also leading the Celtics in rebounding in the playoffs at 8.6 a game. ... Eric Williams, a 28 percent three-point shooter in the regular season, is hitting 75 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc (6-for-8) in the playoffs, making him the league leader among players still in the playoffs.

Bottom line: This should be a fairly evenly matched series. The Pistons had trouble scoring against Toronto, but they are the best defensive team in the East, and Wallace should be able to choke off what little interior offense the Celtics can muster. That, and home-court advantage, should be the difference.

The pick: Detroit in seven.

Western Conference

No. 2 San Antonio vs. No. 3 Los Angeles Lakers

Playoff path: The Spurs beat Seattle 3-2 in the first round. The Lakers defeated Portland 3-0.

Season series: Los Angeles beat San Antonio in three of four meetings. (By winning the season series, the Lakers, which finished tied with the Spurs at the end of the regular season at 58-24, won home-court advantage for this series.)

Spurs outlook: The status of center David Robinson, who missed the last four games of the Seattle series with an ailing back, is not known for today's game. ... In Robinson's absence, Malik Rose had 46 points and 26 rebounds in the last two games of the series, with nine boards in the first quarter alone of Friday's series finale. ... Tony Parker became the first rookie point guard in five years to score 20 or more points in his first playoff game with his 23-point performance in Game 1, and leads all rookies in playoff scoring (17.2). ... Tim Duncan's 89.7 percent free-throw shooting is seventh among players still in the playoffs.

Lakers outlook: Los Angeles is 8-0 in the opener of a series after a first-round sweep in a best-of-five series, and the Lakers have never lost the next round after a three-game sweep. ... In his past 19 playoff games, including last season's playoffs and three games this season against Portland, Derek Fisher is averaging 13.5 points. In his first four years with the Lakers, Fisher averaged 5.5 points in 48 postseason games. ... Kobe Bryant shot 40.0 percent from three-point range in the Portland series, but only 35 percent from the field overall. ... Shaquille O'Neal is third in the playoffs in field-goal percentage (56.2 percent), behind Dallas' Eduardo Najera (64.7) and Boston's Williams (64.5)

Bottom line: Even if Robinson's back were healthy, he would have his hands full with O'Neal. It's not, and that is a prescription for disaster for San Antonio.

The pick: Los Angeles in five.

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