I write a bi-weekly NBA article on Popblerd, but since it took me forever to write, I’m putting it on here too.
Eastern Conference First Round
1. Chicago vs. 8. Indiana
Chicago won 62 games this season and finished on a 9 game winning streak and the best record in the NBA. Indiana finished 8 games below .500 and only made the playoffs because, as unbelievable as it is, the 7 other eastern conference teams were even more terrible. No need to talk any more about this series because it will be over before you are done reading this paragraph. Bulls in 4.
2. Miami vs. 7. Philadelphia
Miami proved they are a great regular season team and now need to prove their formula works in the playoffs. Philly has one of the best wing defenders in the league in Iguodala, unfortunately for the 76’ers he can only guard Wade or James, and not both. Who covers the other? Meeks? Philly has some size and Miami has a weak bench, so some of the Heat’s weaknesses will be exposed, but not nearly enough to make this series too interesting. Heat in 6.
3. Boston vs. 6. New York
My pick to be the most interesting of the 1st round Eastern conference series. Boston has the best defense in the league along with a bunch of lockdown defenders. Rondo beat Billups off the dribble, but which Rondo shows up? The one who attacks the rim the whole game or the more timid one who stays near the 3-point line so defenders can stay 6 feet off of him? More important than that, will Shaq even play in the 1st round? If there is no Shaq then the Celts are banking on big minutes from Jermaine O’Neal. That would make me nervous if I were a Celtics fan. Delonte West is also injured which makes the Celtics pretty thin right now. The Knicks have two of the best scorers in the league in Carmelo and Amare and can put up points in bunches, but are unwatchable on defense. Oh and they gutted their team so their bench is about as deep as Miami’s. Boston’s defense will get the better of New York’s offense in the end. Celtics in 6.
4. Orlando vs. 5. Atlanta
It looks like the same old story for Atlanta, only this time a round earlier. Atlanta won the season series 3-1, but the playoffs are a different animal. While I don’t think Orlando will win by an average of 25 points a game like they did last year, I don’t expect this series to be close either. Orlando in 5.
Eastern Conference Semi-Finals
1. Chicago vs. 4. Orlando
The presumed MVP vs. the presumed MVP runner-up and Defensive Player of the Year. When Orlando is playing well they can beat any team. The problem is I don’t expect Orlando to play well for an entire series. This isn’t Atlanta they are playing. If Howard can keep his cool and not get into foul trouble and their 3-point shots are falling this will be an interesting series, but Chicago will be well rested after their first round scrimmage against the Pacers. In the end Rose plus Chicago’s big front line will prove to be too much for Howard and company. Bulls in 6.
2. Miami vs. 3. Boston
Miami goes as Bosh goes. Bosh likes to completely dominate….or sometimes go 1-18. Look for Garnett to take Bosh out of his game. Wade and James will absolutely get theirs, but this is where Boston’s experience really shines. Even if Shaq and Delonte aren’t back by the 2nd round, Boston still has Green and Big Baby coming off the bench, while Miami’s bench is laughable. As long and West doesn’t sleep with Ray Allen’s mom between the 3rd and 4th game of the series Boston should win. Celtics in 6.
Eastern Conference Finals
1. Chicago vs. 3. Boston
This is going to be an all out war. When Boston assembled it’s current team they were supposed to have a 2-3 year window. This is year 4. They know they are playing with the houses money at this point. Boston seems to always get better as the playoffs go and this will be no exception. I expect them to be at full strength at this point. Chicago will have their day, it just won’t be this day. Rose will have a few more games to show why he was selected this seasons MVP, but Pierce and Garnett will be too much for this young team to handle. Boston in 6.
Western Conference First Round
1. San Antonio vs. 8. Memphis
Ginobili is out for game one. Look for Memphis to take advantage and try to steal the first game. Memphis has given San Antonio problems all year, and I don’t see why this trend doesn’t continue in the playoffs. Without Gay, San Antonio is still the better team and will take care of business in the methodical way San Antonio has been doing for a decade now. Spurs in 6.
2. Los Angeles vs. 7. New Orleans
Without David West the Hornets are pretty bad. Los Angeles, even if Bynum is out, it still way too big for the Hornets to handle. This should be a cake walk for the Lakers. Lakers in 4.
3. Dallas vs. 6. Portland
After the Gerald Wallace heist, Portland has looked really good. Aldridge has been playing out of his mind, and they are even getting decent minutes out of Roy. Dallas has a history of underachieving in the playoffs, but they are a deep veteran team and they still have Dirk playing at an all-star level. Dallas will win, but barely. Mavericks in 7.
4. Oklahoma City vs. 5. Denver
Probably the hardest series to predict. Both teams got better after the trade and both teams are playing at a very high level right now. Denver is a deep team with a lot of size and OKC has Durant and Westbrook. The last game on April 5th between the two got pretty heated and the talking continued after the game. This could be the makings of a rivalry for years to come. I feel like every year there is a Cinderella team that gets to the second round and this year Denver is that team. Knuggicks, I mean Nuggets in 7.
Western Conference Semi-Finals
1. San Antonio vs. 5. Denver
This is a bad matchup for the Spurs. The combination of Martin, Nene, Andersen, Harrington, and Mozgov is going to be too much for San Antonio to handle. I also worry that Ginobili is going to be healthy enough by the second round to have the impact he needs to in order to beat the Nuggets. Nuggets in 6.
2. Los Angeles vs. 3. Dallas
Like the Celtics, the Lakers seem to get better as the playoffs go. Bynum might not be healthy, but is he ever? Dallas is a very good team, you don’t win 57 games by being mediocre. However, there are too many matchup problems for Dallas to overcome. Unless Marion, Peja, and Kidd can find a time machine before this series starts, Los Angeles should be on their way to their 4th straight conference finals. Lakers in 6.
Western Conference Finals
2. Los Angeles vs. 5. Denver
A 4th potential 3-peat during Phil Jacksons last season and, Kobe tying MJ’s 6 rings, yet another matchup against the Celtics…yup it’s too perfect for all of that to end before the finals. Kobe will have a few of his patented ‘I’m going 1 on 5 for 20 straight possessions’ games, but in the end they’ll figure it out. A lot of excitement getting there, but we will end up with the finals matchup I think most people predicted before the season started. Lakers in 6.
2. Los Angeles vs. 3. Boston
Well, if we’re going to have a strike and maybe miss an entire season, this is a perfect matchup to go out on. Boston wants revenge for last season. They also know that this is most likely their last chance to win another championship any time soon, and for Pierce, Garnett, Allen, and O’Neal maybe ever. The Lakers will be playing for all of the above mentioned reason. The Celtics bench swings this series. Bynum is done by this time, so the Lakers bench is pretty much down to Barnes and Blake. Green and Krstic finally justify the Perkins trade, and Davis has a few big games. Kobe has to wait another year (or two depending on a strike) to tie MJ. Celtics in 7.