Wednesday , Mar , 04 , 2009 Oly Sandor

5 Keyser Soze squads that can scare Boston, Cleveland, and Los Angeles

Like Kevin Spacey in The Usual Suspects, these under-the-radar teams could fool a contender and pull off an upset in a short seven-game series. After all, anything is possible in the playoffs. In 1994, eighth seeded Denver beat a star-studded Seattle side when the first round was best of five. Sonic fans, when not torturing Clay Bennett voodoo dolls, will remember Dikembe Mutombo lying on the floor of Key Arena and joyfully squeezing the rock …


5 Keyser Soze squads that can scare Boston, Cleveland, and Los AngelesEvery week, HoopsVibe drops a basketball list for fans to weigh-in on. We call it ‘Listed’  … 

They are the Keyser Sozes of the NBA.  

Like Kevin Spacey in The Usual Suspects, these under-the-radar teams could fool a contender and pull off an upset in a short seven-game series. After all, anything is possible in the playoffs. 

In 1994, eighth seeded Denver beat a star-studded Seattle side when the first round was best of five. Sonic fans, when not torturing Clay Bennett voodoo dolls, will remember Dikembe Mutombo lying on the floor of Key Arena and joyfully squeezing the rock. 

More recently, eighth-seeded Golden State got their ‘Mutombo-on’ by beating top-seeded Dallas in the opening stanza of the 2006-07 post-season. Both the Warriors and Mavericks have struggled since their David versus Goliath series. 

Heading into the playoffs, the contenders are well known. Fans in Boston, Cleveland, and Los Angeles should worry about these teams that could destroy their championship aspirations.

In this edition of ‘Listed’, HoopsVibe The Blog is counting down five Keyser Soze squads capable of upsetting a top power. As always, read the post, form an opinion, and get at us in the comment box below with thoughts.

5) Detroit …

Nobody wants the Pistons in the playoffs. They still have three of four core starters, up-and-comer Rodney Stuckey, and a bench loaded with talented reserves –even if Allen Iverson doesn’t accept his recent demotion to the second unit.

Detroit also has schizophrenic tendencies. One stretch of games, they’ll look great. Another stretch, they’ll struggle. This makes them dangerous. And with Rip Hamilton again starting, these veterans could win a round or two in April and May.

4) Miami … 

Dwyane Wade, the former king of the ‘fall-off’, has re-established his place amongst the game’s best by dropping nightly 40-point efforts. Now, like year’s past, there is Kobe, ‘King James’, and ‘Flash’.

Opponents are also discovering Wade’s teammates. Newly acquired Jermaine O’Neal provides an inside presence; Jamario Moon will prosper in South Beach, at least in the short term. There are also rookies like Mario Chalmers and Michael Beasley, while veteran four-man Udonis Haslem is still productive.

Bottom line: Wade, with his revamped supporting cast, could pose serious problems in a seven game series.

3) Utah … 

Utah’s accomplishments, a 37-23 record despite suffering a run of injuries, are slept-on and overlooked. Most of this is location –Salt Lake City is small market. And some of this is the causal fan’s preference for style over substance.

Here is what the masses are missing: the Jazz play great ‘D’, share the rock, and back cut beautifully in half-court sets. And, like their coach Jerry Sloan, they are tough. Just watch Matt Harpring get after Josh Smith for this recent cheap shot.

(Wait until 1:51 of the clip for action.)

2) (Speaking of) Atlanta … 

Last year, they pushed Boston to seven games. This year, anything is possible because ‘The ATL’ has confidence. For example, early in the season, Mike Bibby and Joe Johnson wanted a rematch with the world champion Celtics. Unlike last year, coach Mike Woodson has more than one option off the bench.

With home-court advantage a strong possibility, the Hawks could fly into the second round and beyond.

1) San Antonio …

Can a 40-20 team be a sleeper? Well, they can if nobody respects them.

The Spurs deserve mention amongst top contenders like the Cavaliers, Celtics, and Lakers. Like the Jazz, they get overlooked because of location and style.

San Antonio’s big three of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker can match up with any trio of stars. And Gregg Popovich’s team play airtight defense and win on the road. Remember, this formula has yielded four NBA Titles.

Los Angeles is the west’s top squad, but there’s a reason Boston’s Doc Rivers believes the green-and-white could face the Spurs in the NBA Finals.  

Who is the NBA’s biggest sleeper/Keyser Soze team? Detroit? Miami? Utah? Atlanta? San Antonio? Or somebody else? Get at us in the comment box below and come back to HoopsVibe the Blog for more NBA tidbits. Photo courtesy of simpsonyiu.com.