Its been a while since I’ve posted, but I am reinvigorated for the playoffs. An amazing NBA season came to a somewhat uneventful end. The only intrigue over the past few weeks was the battle for the last playoff spot in the West. Now that all the dust has settled on the regular season, I am more than ready for the playoffs to begin.
This year’s Western Conference is loaded and I could see anyone coming out. People talk about the golden years of the NBA being when the Celtics played the Lakers or when Jordan’s Bulls dominated. I never understood that. Sure, those teams were great, but where’s the drama? I would much prefer this year’s scenario where we have 8 excellent teams in the West, each capable of beating any of the other teams. John Hollinger has an excellent piece on just this subject.
I’ll start with my predictions in the West, though I should point out that I have zero confidence in these picks. I wouldn’t be surprised if any of my picks lost in the first round or even if they all went down! Anyway, here we go…
West First Round
Lakers over Nuggets (7 games) – I think people are underestimating Denver, and they can make a series out of this. The Lakers have shown to be the best team in the West, but I think they are vulnerable as long as Bynum’s health is in question.
Jazz over Rockets (5 games) – The Rockets had that great run, but I don’t think they have enough to stay with the Jazz. The Jazz have been on fire down the stretch and I expect them to continue to play well, especially at home.
Spurs over Suns (7 games) – I think the Suns with a healthy Shawn Marion take this. But I still hate the Shaq trade. Amare has been on fire and they have played better with Shaq recently, but I don’t think they play good enough defense to beat the Spurs.
Hornets over Mavs (6 games) – I see CP3 all over this series. New Orleans has been just a flat out better team plus they will have the edge in motivation against Dallas.
Western Conference Semis
Lakers over Jazz (7 games) – Bynum should be at least back on the court by this series. That combined with Kobe’s ability to take over games, the Lakers’ homecourt advantage and the likelihood of the refs keeping it “fair” for the Lakers makes me pick Los Angeles in this battle of what I think are the West’s two best teams.
Hornets over Spurs (7 games) – The Hornets have the big guys to neutralize Duncan down low and CP3 should be able to take over. I think the Spurs age is starting to catch up with them and see them losing a hard fought series here in 7 games.
Western Conference Finals
Lakers over Hornets (6 games) – By this time Bynum should be 100% or close to it. With a healthy Bynum and homecourt advantage, I don’t see anyone in the West staying with the Lakers. look for Kobe to dominate this series in this matchup of MVP candidates.
The East seems much easier to predict and I feel fairly confident about my picks here. Of course, I also predicted a Suns-Raptors NBA Finals matchup last year… so take these with a grain of salt.
East First Round
Celtics over Hawks (4 games) – This is a total mismatch on every level.
Wizards over Cavs (6 games) – As much as the NBA would love to see Lebron go further in the playoffs, this Cavs team really isn’t any good. The midseason trade seems to have hurt more than it helped. Even without Arenas, i would give the Wizards the edge. Now that he’s back, I see the Wizards winning fairly easily. Of course, Lebron could always go bananas like he did in last year’s playoffs and make this prediction look foolish.
Magic over Raptors (6 games) – The Magic are the team that no one is talking about. They come into the playoffs red hot and should be able to take out a decent Raptors team.
Pistons over Sixers (5 games) – Detroit is just too deep and experienced. Successful season for Philly as they are headed in the right direction.
Eastern Conference Semis
Celtics over Wizards (5 games) – Remember when Gilbert Arenas predicted the Wizards would beat the Celts in the season opener, then they got blasted by 20? Thats pretty much how I see this series going.
Pistons over Magic (7 games) – I agonized over this pick more than any in the East. I think the Magic are an equal team to Detroit, but the Pistons just have too much experience. Usually the effect of experience can be overstated, but this Pistons team plays exceptionally well together (cliche alert!… the sum > parts) and they know all the tricks and when to use them.
Eastern Conference Finals
Celtics over Pistons (5 games) – The Celtics are too good defensively and KG will not let the team lose focus. The Pistons will be exhausted from their last series and when the Celts take game 3 or 4 at the Palace, the Pistons will have no chance in game 5.
Celtics over Lakers (6 games) – Boy, I went out on a limb here, huh? In the series that everyone seems to be predicting, in the end I see banner number 17 being raised to the rafters of the Garden. To much defense, too much intensity and too much KG and Paul Pierce for a very good Lakers team to handle.