Hey all, here are my predictions for the upcoming playoffs- I’ll go round by round.
(1) Lakers vs. ( 8 ) Nuggets- Basically, this is a question of whether the Nuggets can pull out a game or not. I don’t think they’ll get enough in one of the home games for it, but one could be close. Lakers in 4.
(4) Jazz vs. (5) Rockets- The Rockets do have home court in this series, but with Rafer Alston out for Games 1 and 2 in Houston and the Jazz being a better team, it won’t matter. Houston simply has no answer for the Jazz’ best players- no one to guard Boozer, Okur, or Deron reliably and Utah has done a reasonably good job of playing T-Mac in recent years. Jazz in 6.
(3) Spurs vs. (6) Suns- Lots of analysts have talked about how the Suns have been gearing up for this series, and that’s well and good. However, the Spurs undoubtedly have been too, and their overall depth should cause major problems for the Suns should any relevant player get into foul trouble. Simmons and others think Stern wants Phoenix to win, but I disagree because a Spurs win would validate last year’s outcome to some people, justified or not. That said, the difference will be Nash’s inability to handle Parker, creating open looks for the rest of Los Spurs. Spurs in 7.
(2) Hornets vs. (7) Mavericks- The other trendy upset pick in the West. Make no mistake about it- the Mavs are a dangerous team for the Hornets after they won in New Orleans earlier this week. However, the other players on the Hornets have the ability to hit open shots, and I believe that the overexertion of attention on the amazing Chris Paul will allow David West, Peja, and possibly even the sleeper of the series Jannero Pargo to produce more than expected. Some discussed how the Hornets do not have playoff experience, but the Warriors didn’t either and even though the other factors in that series were important, this New Orleans team is dramatically better than the 2006-2007 Warriors. Hornets in 6.
(1) Celtics vs. ( 8 ) Hawks- Don’t see Atlanta getting a game, but the emotions and energy for the team can only help their motivation going into next season. Celtics in 4.
(4) Cavaliers vs. (5) Wizards- On one hand, there are valid reasons to pick the Wizards. On the other hand, you have Lebron James. Expect Boobie to break loose here if he can work back into form for the end of the series. Cavs in 6.
(3) Magic vs. (6) Raptors- For whatever reason Chris Bosh drinks Dwight Howard’s milkshake, and despite the presence of TJ Ford, Calderon should sodomize terrible Jameer Nelson™ adequately to give the Raptors a surprising series win. Raptors in 6.
(2) Pistons vs. (7) 76ers- I like the Sixers (especially Andre Iguodala), but this will just cause problems for them in terms of who will guard the Sheed/McDyess combo (Dally can only guard one) and the Pistons have the personnel to score a high enough % so the Sixers can’t run effectively. Pistons in 5.
(1) Lakers vs. (4) Jazz- A 100% under the radar series. In alot of ways, I see this as the most vulnerable the Lakers will be, because Bynum will be on his way back still and Deron Williams could make a name for himself against Fisher, which could lead to Jordan Farmar getting an increased role for the rest of the series. That said, the Lakers are a better team and will pull it out. Lakers in 7.
(2) Hornets vs. (3) Spurs- Never underestimate the power of Greg Popovich against a coach without substantial playoff coaching experience. Chris Paul could end up wreaking havoc with Parker (he’s substantially better), but the Spurs have far too much talent and pride to lose to a team with so little depth. Spurs in 6.
(1) Celtics vs. (4) Cavaliers- I love Lebron as much as almost anyone, but the rest of the team is essentially useless compared to the sheer power of the Celtics, especially considering the home court advantage difference between Boston and Cleveland in the series. Boston in 6, because Lebron is worth two games by himself.
(2) Pistons vs. (6) Raptors- Underrated, underrated potential series. While I do love what Toronto could potentially bring to the table, they just don’t have the perimeter scoring option to bring enough wood to Detroit to take the series, though they will put a charge into them and make the Celtics’ fans almost unbearable before Celtics/Pistons. Pistons in 7.
Western Conference Finals: (1) Lakers vs. (3) Spurs- I love the potential of this series. Some people think Suns/Lakers would be a better one (and they may be right, especially if Bynum can come all the way back), but Spurs/Lakers has its own subplots that would be phenominal. The potential Kobe/Manu matchup on one or both sides of the floor would be simply fantastic, as they are two top-tier players. Also, if memory serves Pau and Duncan have had their share of battles. In the end, I see it coming down to the Lakers’ superior bench and younger legs anchored by Kobe edging out the Spurs in a brutal series. Lakers in 6.
Eastern Conference Finals: (1) Celtics vs. (2) Pistons- This series isn’t the inevitability that some have made it out to be, but it sure seems to be the most likely endgame in the East. The Pistons have an underrated bench, but the Celtics are just too damn good to lose to the Pistons. Celtics in 6.
NBA Finals: Lakers vs. Celtics- And David Stern orgasms. One thing to consider is that the Western Conference Champ will be coming out of at least one (probably two) absolutely brutal, intense series while the Celtics will have simply been slightly challenged. This can go either way, but I see the Lakers as being good enough overall with a transcendent (and clutch) player in Kobe to take it. Lakers in 6.
And that’s that. As always, comments are appreciated