The International Blogtable: Second-Round Surprises

Every week, the International Blogtable brings together some of the best basketball minds from around the world, posing a burning question to writers and editors from the NBA's fleet of international web destinations. It's a BIG world, after all.

It's time for a game of fill-in-the-blanks! The biggest surprise of the Conference Semifinals will be _______________, because __________________.
Pawel Weszka
Editor, NBA Africa

The biggest surprise of the Conference Semifinals will be the Chicago Bulls, because that's exactly what they have been this season: a team that's seen the whole universe going against them with barely an opportunity to play with their strongest squad the last two years. This incredibly united group of often under-rated guys, led by a great coach and some of the most dedicated team players in the league, has shown that their super subs can step up to the occasion, no matter what’s at stake. Considering that we should see Deng and Hinrich back at some point in the series, this rivalry promises many more ‘glued-to-the-screen’ moments. Will the Bulls beat the Heat? Even after Game 1, the stats and rosters say otherwise. And yes, it still does not even seem possible. Even conventional wisdom or a casual fan would suggest it is highly unlikely. But then, try to say that to Nate Robinson.
Adriano Albuquerque
Blogger, NBA Brasil

You mean besides two road teams winning Game 1 and two others getting this close to doing that also? I think the biggest surprise might be Golden State pulling off the upset against San Antonio. I was worried that their inexperience would do them in against the Spurs, and it happened in Game 1: they had a 16-point lead in the 4th and blew it, largely because of San Antonio's pedigree in the Playoffs. Losing a game like that can be the ultimate stomach-punch and confidence killer, but you know what? This Warriors team is stronger than that. I think we will be shocked by how well these kids respond to it, thanks to some strong coaching from Mark Jackson, and we'll be shocked when they get over that hump, break that losing streak in San Antonio, steal a game and move on to the Western Conference Finals, where they will face the Memphis Grizzlies -- in itself a big shocker as well: none of the two "favorites" to win the West makes it to the Finals.
Hanson Guan
Editor, NBA China

The biggest surprise of the Conference Semifinals will be the Bulls eliminating the defending champions, because Chicago's now blessed with home advantage after its victory in the first game. Additionally, with Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich coming back, they are set to cause the Heat tremendous trouble with their (nearly) full squad. Defense is a huge asset for Bulls. And if Derrick Rose does return from injury, he morale boost would serve Bulls well to trip-wire a Heat team out for back-to-back titles .
Philipp Dornhegge

The biggest surprise of the Conference Semifinals will be the Chicago Bulls, because they can make life miserable for the Miami Heat. I don’t necessarily believe that they can beat the champs, but as Game 1 has shown, they have all the tools defensively to slow down Dwyane Wade, who looks limited already by knee issues. If Chris Bosh continues to struggle and Butler (and Deng, if and when he comes back) can keep LeBron James in check, Miami will be hard-pressed to score. The question, obviously, is this: Can the Bulls themselves put enough points on the board o beat the Heat again?
Eduardo Schell
Editor, NBA España

The biggest surprise of the Conference Semifinals will be Memphis winning against Oklahoma, because despite a 1-0 deficit, I believe they showed character and personality against the Clippers, and as Samuel L. Jackson says in Pulp Fiction: personality goes a long way. Many won't see Memphis advance as a surprise since Oklahoma is without Westbrook, but they would still deserve credit. I wouldn't be blown away if we saw Rose-less Chicago eliminate Miami or the Warriors cooking some Texas T-Bone with Curry, but those look a little more complicated.
Stefanos Triantafyllos
Editor, NBA Greece

The biggest surprise of the Conference Semifinals will be the Grizzlies, because they are the best defensive team in the West and they will find the way to stop the Westbrook-less Thunder. In the first game OKC, Kevin Durant pulled a LeBron James-esque effort for the win. KD not only put some points on the board, but filled the entire stat sheet: rebounds and assists, not to mention the steal that changed the game. It seems like Durant has to do that in every game, in order to beat a team with solid defense and great power down the block. The injury to Westbrook made OKC more predictable. Now Durant has to be more than a creator (the role of Westbrook) and far more than a finisher. He must create his own shot and make plays for his teammates. It's a difficult job, but someone has to do it.
Karan Madhok
Blogger, NBA India

The biggest surprise of the Conference Semifinals will be the Bulls, because of coach Tom Thibodeau. The Bulls have already stolen Game 1 in Miami and are feeling the momentum to keep battling away against the mighty Heat until the very end. Even without Rose, Deng, and Hinrich, and with pesky injuries/illnesses to Gibson, Robinson, and Noah, Chicago continues to play every game with passion and unmatched intensity. Credit their All-Star on the bench: the defensive mastermind Tom Thibodeau. The Heat – who were being touted as one of the great teams in history, complete with a four-time MVP – are still favorites to win the series (and the championship), but the Bulls will push them to the brink.
Davide Chinellato
Editor, NBA Italia

The biggest surprise of the Conference Semifinals will be Oklahoma City, because they will defeat Memphis and go to the West semis. I know the Thunder are the No. 1 seed in the West, so calling it a 'surprise' that they'll reach the West Finals could be a reach. But after they lost Russell Westbrook to that right knee injury, they are no longer the favorite and Memphis really has a chance here. But I still see Kevin Durant elevating his game even more, Kevin Martin scoring 20-plus ppg (forget about the guy who shot 34.3 percent in the series against Houston), and Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison making the miracle to stop the best big-man combo in the league, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. That would be a surprise and an upset, even if the Thunder are 1 in the West.
Aldo Avinante

The Bulls. I'm not saying that they are poised to beat Miami but they probably are the team that will give them the hardest route to the Larry O'Brien trophy. Chicago is a team playing with nothing to lose, excused from all the pressure against the mighty Heat. With their stingy defense, fearless play and excellent coaching, they are bound to pull off a few surprises here and there against the defending champions.
Selçuk Aytekin
Editor, NBA Turkiye

The biggest surprise of the Conference Semifinals will be the Golden State Warriors, because the San Antonio Spurs are a little old to knock them down. With Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the Warriors are just too energetic and athletic. Although Duncan, Parker and Ginobili are Hall of Fame players, their bodies aren't what they used to be. To me, we will see the Warriors in the Finals.