Alright everyone after a long 82 game grind the post season is final upon us. This post season figures to shape up to be a very good one. I know a lot of people dog on the NBA Playoffs because it is too long and the such. I completely disagree with this statement. I think the NBA Playoffs is one of the best sporting events out there. I would rank it right up near the NFL Playoffs and the NCAA Tournament. In fact I would even say over the past couple of years it has been just as good if not better then the NCAA Tournament which I think has really been taken over and dominated by the powerhouse teams versus seeing upsets. That being said let's get this thing going as I breakdown how I feel this NBA Playoffs to shape up. I will start with the Eastern Conference.
Eastern Conference First Round
Analysis: Well no one and I mean no one in the National media is giving Detroit much of a chance. That being said I think Detroit does have a chance to make this series interesting. The Detroit Pistons are a scary draw for the Cavs because their is no doubt this team has playoff experience. Detroit has largely had a disappointing season as the trade for Allen Iverson swapping out Chauncey Billups took Detroit from the elite of the conference to just having to claw and fight their way to get in. They are still formiable foe though with the likes of Rasheed Wallace, Tashaun Prince, Rodney Stuckey, and Richard Hamilton. That being said they have a tall order facing the team with the best home and overall record in the league. The Cavs have had a special season with the addition of Mo Williams. We all know LeBron James is one of the best players in the league and he will be next to impossible for the Pistons to stop. I think the Pistons will keep this series competative at least games wise and probably win at least one on their home floor.
Prediction: Cavs win in 5 ultimately the Cavs are just too much for the Pistons to handle, but I suspect the Pistons will keep most of the games close and win one in Detroit.
Analysis: Those pesky Atlanta Hawks are back in the playoffs again and this time as the favorite seed they are hoping to advance. Atlanta is lead by one of the best point guards in the league in Mike Bibby. They also have a great cast of players around him in Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, and Al Horford. The Hawks have the better team in this series however they do not have the best player in the series. That belongs to Miami with Dwayne Wade who is one of the most electryfying players in the game. Dwayne Wade could concievable carry this team to the series victory. He will need some help from a supporting cast of Jermaine O'Neal, Udonis Haslem, and sensational rookies Mario Chalmers and Micheal Beasley also add to the mix. Miami has had a big time rebound season and figures to be a good team in the years to come. I think this is likely to be the best series in the entire first round possibly.
Prediction: Atlanta in 7 I think the Hawks will win this one and it will come down to them having home court in the last game which will motivate them to move past Miami however it will not be easy as you can be assured Wade will do everything in his power to lead Miami to victory.
Analysis: The Magic are part of the fantastic four teams that dominated much of this regular season. The Magic have the best big man in the league in Dwight Howard and the trade for Rafer Alston has kept the Magic afloat despite losing Jameer Nelson. Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu are excellent players as well. Courtney Lee has done a nice job lately especially on the defensive end of the ball. The Magic sometimes live and die by the 3 and that may cost them down the line. The Sixers have had a slightly disappointing campaign they had a lot of hype coming into the season with the addition of Elton Brand however with Brand they struggled and without him they have done better. The Sixers best player is Andre Iguodala and he is going to have to have a fantastic series if the 76ers are to have any hope at advancing.
Prediction: Magic in 6 I think Philly has enough talent to keep this one interesting and extend it. That being said the Magic are going to be too much for them to handle as far as pulling of the upset.
Analysis: The Boston Celtics are the defending NBA champions and they are coming off a nice regular season when you consider some of their injuries and losses in this past offseason. The Celtics have dreary news when it comes to Kevin Garnett looks like he might miss the entire post season which is not good news for them. That being said the Celtics still have Ray Allen and Paul Pierce as well as some very good players around them. The Bulls have had a sensational latter half of this season which saw them revamp their team at the all star break adding John Salmons and Brad Miller who both have been nice additions. Rookie Derick Rose has sparked a fire in Chicago and figures to be a star for years to come. Tyrus Thomas is starting to turn heads and live up to his potential. This is scary draw for the Celtics and I look for this to be a series to keep an eye on because I think the Bulls do have a chance to pull of the upset.
Prediction: Boston in 7 I think the defending champions will muster up enough pride to pull this on off however that will not be before a spirited fight from the rising Bulls. Look for a very Atlanta Hawks type scare from the Bulls to the Celtics this season.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers v 4 Atlanta Hawks
Analysis: I actually think the Miami Heat may provide more of a scare to the Cavs then the Hawks. I think Miami could potentially matchp better with them and just the mere fact that Dwayne Wade envokes more fear into you. I think the Cavaliers will likely not have a ton of trouble getting to the eastern conference finals with the draw that they drew.
Preidiction: Cavs in 5 I think the Cavaliers will be too much for the Hawks to handle and I think it will be very though for anyone outside of the Celtics, Magic, or Lakers to win on the Cavs floor.
2. Boston Celtics v 3 Orlando Magic
Analysis: I love this series I would love it even more with KG healthy however I think it still has the potential to be a very good one. This is a clash between two of the best four teams in the NBA this season. Look for this to be a very good season that will likely come down to who can will themselves more to win.
Prediction: Celtics in 7 I think the Celtics find a way to win this and I think home court will ultimately help them do this. Look for Paul Pierce and Ray Allen to lead the way as the Celtics win a classic seven game clash.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers v 2 Boston Celtics
Analysis: This is where the loss of Kevin Garnett will start to really sting I think. Cleveland has shown all year that they are ready to take down and get past the Celtics in the playoffs. If Kevin Garnett is somehow back and effective I think Boston will pull of the upset. If he is not however I think the Cavs homecourt dominance, LeBron James, and no Kevin Garnett will be just too much to overcome even for Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.
Prediction: Cavs in 6 this series all really hinges on Kevin Garnett if he is back you can bank on seven games and if that's the case the Cavs better hope and pray that their 39-2 record dominance at home continues. The Cavs take down the Garnett void Celtics in six hard fought games.
Western Conference First Round
1. LA Lakers v 8 Utah Jazz
Analysis: The Lakers have been on a mission all season to get back to the NBA Finals and it has been evidenced by their 65-17 record in the regular season. Phil Jackson's teams typically play just good enough to get in with a decent seed and then turn up the heat for the playoffs. That being said it has been an interesting season for the Lakers in spite of some key injuries the biggest one being to one Andrew Bynum again they still managed to run away with the Western Conference. This season the Lakers are better set up to win it all with a seemingly healthy Andrew Bynum back in the fold and a healthy Trevor Ariza in the mix unlike last season. The Lakers are an improved version of last years team in what I feel is a weaker Western Conference. That being said the Lakers happened to draw one team I feel could give them a lot of trouble and that is the Utah Jazz. The Jazz where scorching red hot for awhile and now have Carlos Boozer back in the mix. However they have struggled during the latter part of the season and backed their way all the way into the eight seed. Derron Williams will give the Lakers some trouble however you know he is going to get his the key will be stopping the rest of the Jazz.The Jazz have the talent to compete with the Lakers and their one of three teams that I think have a shot at beating us in the West.
Prediction: Lakers in 5 I just think the Jazz have fallen a bit and with Bynum back in the mix the Lakers appear ready to hit the switch and go on a tear through the playoffs. Look for this series to be more competative then your typical five game knockout.
4. Portland Trailblazers v 5 Houston Rockets
Analysis: Likely to be the best western conference series of the playoffs. The Blazers have been on a roll at the end of the season and are led by Brandon Roy. They have a young talented nucelous that is ready to see it's first playoff action against a team familar with the playoffs. The Blazers are a scary talented team and one team that I think nobody really wants to play especially with Greg Oden healthy. The Rockets are trying to get out of the first round for the first time in a long time. Ron Artest and Yao Ming will have to lead the way without Tracy McGrady. Look for this series to be very hard fought and it should come down to the wire.
Prediction: Houston in 7 I think Houston finally gets out of the first round in a dogfight with the Blazers. Look for the Blazers lack of playoff experience to hurt them in the deciding game 7 in Portland.
Analysis: The Spurs have had an interesting season one that saw them hold on to the two seed in the west for a long time. However they have lost Manu Ginobili for the season and that figures to ruin their chances to somehow win the NBA Title. They still have a very scary team in Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. The Spurs will be a though opponent for anyone to face. Roger Mason Jr. has been an amazing addition to their squad. The Mavericks are led by Dirk Nowitzki and they will need him to be senstational if they are to pull an upset. The Mavericks have been hot and with a healthy Josh Howard now playing they will be a very though out for San Antiono. This one figures to be another very good first round series.
Prediction: Spurs in 7 I think the Spurs ulimately previal look for Duncan and Parker to will this team to victory in a key seventh game.
Analysis: The Denver Nuggets are one of the most improved teams this season with the addition of Chauncey Billups who has brought discipline and leadership to that team. The Nuggets are obviously lead by Chauncey Billups, but they also have all star Carmello Anthony to help lead the way. Whil the Nuggets have been one of the most improved teams this season the Hornets have been one of the seasons most disappointing. Last season the Hornets where a two seed in the West this season they fell all the way to the seventh seed. Chris Paul figured to be a pre season MVP favorite now he is not talked about in the MVP race that being said he is still a great player and will provide the Hornets with a chance in this series. Tyson Chandlers health will be key though if the Hornets are to have much of a chance.
Prediction: Nuggets in 6 I think Chauncey leads this Denver squad to the next round putting an end to a disappointing campaign for CP3 and the boys.
1. LA Lakers v 5 Houston Rockets
Analysis: The Lakers avoid the Blazers a team we do not really want to face. The Lakers draw a team who they swept with ease this season in the Houston Rockets. The Rockets don't really figure to have much of a chance in this second round series. Kobe Bryant has pretty much had his way with Ron Artest this season and with Andrew Bynum back Yao Ming figures to have a lot on his hands. Look for Pau Gasol to have a monster series.
Prediction: Lakers in 5 if the Lakers can play Houston I think they can make this relatively short and sweet versus a Blazer matchup that I say going at least six games.
2. Denver Nuggets v 3 San Antiono Spurs
Analysis: The Denver Nuggets should give San Antonio an interesting series however I think even without Ginobili the Spurs should be favored in this series. I think duo of Chanuncey Billups and Carmello Anthony is not quite as good as the Duncan and Parker duo. I look for the Spurs playoff experience to take over in this series as they will themselves to yet another WCF.
Prediction: Spurs in 6 I think the Spurs get through the Nuggets in six thanks to another big series from Tim Duncan and Tony Parker look for Roger Mason Jr. to steal one game on the Nuggets court with a big three.
1 LA Lakers v 3 San Antiono Spurs
Analysis: One of the best rivalries in the NBA take center stage in the western conference finals for the second straight year. The Spurs have had a nice run and will somehow will themselves to this point however look for the loss of Ginobili to loom large in this series. I have been saying all year I don't think the Spurs are much better then last years team which lost to the Lakers in five games. With Andrew Bynum back for the Lakers the Spurs task is going to be even harder. Now that a worse Spurs team without Ginboili meets an improved Lakers team with Bynum is a receipe for a sweep.
Prediction: Lakers in 5 I think the Spurs muster out some pride for a game 4 win to avoid the sweep before the Lakers clobber them in game 5 at home to advance to the finals. Duncan will have his hands full with Bynum and Gasol.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers v 1. LA Lakers
Analysis: The matchup everyone is looking forward too and one that figures to be a classic. The Lakers where 2-0 versus the Cavaliers this season including being the first team to beat them on their home court without Andrew Bynum even. The Lakers have been on a mission since last year to prove to the world that they are the best team in the NBA. With a healthy Andrew Bynum and Trevor Ariza this season I see no reason why this Laker team does not achieve that goal. Look for Kobe Bryant to cement himself as a top five all time player with an historic finals performance leading the Lakers to victory in classic series.
Prediction: Lakers in 7 I think this one goes to the wire and I think the Lakers steal the NBA Finals from the Cavaliers on their home court with a healthy Bynum accomplishing their goal and conquering the demons of last season.
It's game time should be an exciting month and half of playoff basketball. In the end I see my Los Angles Lakers holding that big gold ball and Kobe Bryant getting finals MVP. With a healthy Bynum in the saddle the Lakers will get the job done. Stay tuned to my blog throughout the playoffs as I will be recapping each and every series the Lakers play until then let's go Lakers. It's great being a Lakers fan!!!!!!!!