By Dan Shanoff
Special to Page 2

If you're not pulling for the fun-'n'-gunning Kings or Mavs to uproot the Lakers in the West, then take on the East's Swamp Dragons in the Finals, well you either have no sense of humor -- or you're the kind of fan who roots for Microsoft.

Regardless of your rooting interests, the NBA playoffs offer a good two months of intensity not seen yet this year, benches shortened to "playoff depth" and probably more than a few game scores with combined point totals below 150.

The point is, before the action heats up, you know what you're really looking for is a few good talking points with which to impress your co-workers, your friends and that hottie you plan on meeting at that party this weekend. Page 2 wants to help, and so we offer our annual Hot 'n' Not List for the NBA playoffs:

What's Hot, What's Not: 2002 NBA playoffs
Category Hot Not
TV guy-as-coach Kenny Smith Tom Tolbert
Conference Western Eastern
"Oh sure, I always liked the ..."

First-round series Blazers-Lakers Hornets-Magic
Coach on hot seat
Isiah Thomas

Nate McMillan
"He Hate Me"
Wally Szczerbiak
Kevin Garnett
Rookie due for national break-out
Richard Jefferson

Gerald Wallace
Home court Arco (Kings) Continental Arena (Nets)
Mr. Clutch
Steve Nash

Chris Webber
Blazers hot-head Bonzi Wells Rasheed Wallace
No. 1 fan
Tyra Banks

Tobey Maguire
Off-court rumor Will MJ return? Will Drew Gooden go pro?
Player to watch
Tracy McGrady

Antoine Walker
Ben Wallace

Jamaal Tinsley
Fire-up-the-crowd music

R Kelly
Functional accessory Two contrasting-color headbands Calf sleeve

"He's due" coach Don Nelson Rick Carlisle
Three-point ace
Jon Barry

Nick Van Exel
X-factor Raef LaFrentz
Keith Van Horn
Unemployment-line sighting Tim Floyd Brian Winters
Designated thug
Kenyon Martin

Rick Fox
Strategy trend Run at the Lakers Wacky "Shaq Zone-D"
Impact sub Bobby Jackson
John Amaechi
Payback time New Jersey over
the rest of the East
Blazers over Lakers
Subject to
mull over
Shaq's retirement
Fun for
lottery teams
Listening to Sir Charles Waiting on pingpong balls

Dan Shanoff is a regular contributor to Page 2.