Saturday, April 18, 2009

NBA Playoff Predictions: Round One

It's time for the NBA Playoffs! While we appear headed for an inevitable Lakers/Cavs NBA Final, the first few rounds of the playoffs should be filled with great series and interesting matchups. The Western Conference is once again loaded from top to bottom and features several teams that could conceivably contend for a title if the Lakers weren't so good. The East isn't quite as deep but it is very top heavy with the Cavs, Celtics and Magic being the only teams with a shot to go to the Finals. Of course, with the injury to Kevin Garnett, we may be able to cross the Celtics off of that list.

Here are my predictions for the first round of the NBA Playoffs:

Western Conference
Lakers (1) vs. Jazz (8)

Lakers in 4

The Jazz aren't quite the same Jazz teams that we are used to, meaning they have no shot against the Lakers. L.A. is my pick to win the title and I don't see them having any problem sweeping past the Jazz. The only thing standing in the way of another Lakers title is the health of Andrew Bynum, although they will probably win it all even if he can't contribute. This is the year Kobe finally gets his ring without Shaq.

Nuggets (2) vs. Hornets (7)
Nuggets in 6
Chris Paul will be the best player on the floor but that doesn't always translate to having the best team. Ever since they stole Chauncey Billups from the Pistons, the Nuggets resemble much more of an actual basketball team than the collection of individual players they once were. While the Nuggets aren't quite as good as their number 2 seed indicates, they should still have no problem with a Hornets team that seems to lack depth and isn't quite ready to beat an elite team. New Orleans also went out with a whimper in the regular season, finishing under .500 in their final 21 games, so the Nuggets should be primed to knock them off.

Spurs (3) vs. Mavs (6)
Spurs in 7
One thing everyone should have learned by now is that you can never count the Spurs out, even with Manu Ginobli out for the season. They have little shot of advancing past the second round, but they can almost win first round playoff series' in their sleep. The Mavericks finished out the season on a roll but I think Tim Duncan and the experience of the Spurs finds a way to outlast the Mavs in a long, grueling series. Duncan is hobbled but no one can guard Tony Parker on the Mavs.

Blazers (4) vs. Rockets (5)
Blazers in 6

Is this the year the Rockets finally win something in the playoffs, the year when Tracy McGrady is hurt? Nope! The Blazers are inexperienced but they are ready to make the leap into the second round. I even see Portland giving the Lakers a tough series in the second round. In a few years, this Blazers team will be special, for now they are just really good.

Eastern Conference
Cavs (1) vs. Pistons (8)
Cavs in 5
I'll give Pistons one game because of their veteran know-how. LeBron and the Cavs will slip up in Game Four in Detroit after winning the first three games of the series and then smoke the Pistons in Game Five. Cleveland should be on cruise control until the Eastern Conference Finals.

Celtics (2) vs. Bulls (7)
Celtics in 6

This series just got a lot more interesting with the injury to Garnett. The Bulls are red-hot and will pose a real challenge to the defending champs. That said, even without KG, the Celtics have plenty of guys that have done it before and will be able to do it again, at least for a round.

Magic (3) vs. Sixers (6)

Magic in 6
I will have a full in-depth preview of this series up later today. I would love to pick the Sixers in an upset, but there really isn't anything that points to them being able to knock off Orlando. Many "experts" are calling for a Magic sweep, but I think the Sixers will surprise a few people, much like they did last season against the Pistons. The biggest issue facing Philly is they have no one who can guard Dwight Howard, not that anybody in the league really can. Howard should easily go for 20 and 20 every night, so it will be up to Reggie Evans and Sam Dalembert to try to keep him from dropping 40 on the Sixers. Philly will make things interesting from time to time with their run and gun style, but it won't nearly be enough against a slightly overrated but still good Magic team.

Hawks (4) vs. Heat (5)
Heat in 7

This one is my only upset in the first round, and I would barely call it an upset. Dwyane Wade is good enough to carry his team to three wins on his own, if he gets any help at all for a game the Heat should get past the Hawks. Atlanta will be looking for some of the playoff magic they had last season when they shocked the Celtics, but without anyone that can really guard Wade, I don't see how they can beat the Heat. Atlanta is the better all-around team, so this should make an interesting series of one against many.

So there are my predictions. Let me know your thoughts or if you agree or disagree!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

donwt really agree
in my opinion
lakeers in 5
denver in 6
dallas in 6
portland in 7
clevland in 5
boston in 6
philly in 6
atlanta in 4

lakers in 7
denver in 7
atlanta in 6
philly in 6
denver in 6
philly in 7
philly in 6

sounds wierd, sounds unreasonable but mt opinion