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A glimpse of the future (cont.)

Posted: Monday May 8, 2006 4:25PM; Updated: Monday May 8, 2006 4:27PM
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With the MVP award on Steve Nash's mantle again, Chauncey Billups may try to prove how wrongs voters were against the Cavs.
With the MVP award on Steve Nash's mantle again, Chauncey Billups may try to prove how wrongs voters were against the Cavs.
Bob Rosato/SI

Elton Brand is your typical beast in the low post, but he knows how to run, and can keep up with the Suns. Still, in four games against Phoenix during the regular season, Brand merely matched his seasonal averages -- even with the major increase in possessions. After a solid, if unspectacular, opening round, look for him to try and impose his will.

Potential Chumps

Boris Diaw was all over the place in seven games against the Lakers, averaging 18.3 points, six rebounds and six assists. His inside/out presence put the Suns over the top; and they'll need every bit of that production er to down the Clippers. Diaw's regular season marks against the red and blue (13.5 points, four boards, 4.5 assists in just 33 minutes) are encouraging, but Boris is a playoff neophyte, and the Suns are going to have to stay on their starting center to keep up the attack.

• By picking his spots and staying within Dunleavy's offense, Corey Maggette dominated Denver's bench in the first round. He needed just 22 minutes a game to score 17 points, but if he plays anything like he did in Game 1 (forcing shots, dominating the ball), the Clippers are in trouble. Against the run-and-gun Suns, the temptation will be there, and it's up to Maggette keep the focus.

Detroit Pistons-Cleveland Cavs

Potential Champs

Eric Snow helped the 76ers make the 2001 Finals, but his best defensive days are behind him, and he is NOT a team player -- as evidenced by his adamant refusal to grow a beard. Expect Chauncey Billups, who has the image of Nash spit-shining another MVP award burned into his mind, to go off in this series. With his 14 points (on just five shots), 10 assists and two steals in 30 minutes of Game 1, I'd say he's off to a fabulous start.

• Even if he doesn't come near the 34/5/5 averages he put up against the Wizards, LeBron James will easily be the best thing Cleveland has going against Detroit. And he better be, because nobody else on that Cavalier roster can create his own shot (Flip Murray can, but it's not really that great a shot). A sparkling LeBron is his team's best chance at stealing a game (or a half, or a quarter, or a 3:47-minute stretch) from the Pistons.

Potential Chumps

Ben Wallace will probably shoot horribly from the free throw line in this series. He missed both his attempts in Game 1, and with that free throw form, it's hard to see him topping the 50 percent mark in the best-of-seven matchup. Other than Carlos Delfino's super-tight jeans, that's all I have.