Yet Another NBA Playoff Forecast
Just What You Wanted, Right..?
My buddy Jase posted his first round NBA playoff predictions here last night. But here are my predictions, which will prove to be much more accurate.
#1 Cavs vs. #8 Pistons-- okay, this is a no-brainer. LeBron beat these guys when they were Eastern top dogs and the Cavs were pretenders. Now it's the reverse, so it'll be that much easier. '''''Cavs sweep'''''.
#2 Celtics vs. #7 Bulls-- ahh, now this is where it gets interesting. Last year we saw the young, fast, and athletic Hawks take it to the Celtics in the first round. This year I think the Bulls are that team--they play at a furious pace, have a lightning rod PG, and have no fear and nothing to lose. Even with Kevin Garnett, they would have given the Cs real trouble in this series. Without him, they could take it. Unfortunately, I'm not courageous enough to pick the upset straight up, so I'll say '''''Cs in 7'''''. But give me slight odds and I'll take it in a heartbeat.
#3 Magic vs. #6 76ers-- a real snoozefest. The Magic are about 895,456,745 times better than Philly, but it really won't be very exciting watching Dwight Howard clown the 76ers big men. '''''Magic in 5'''''.
#4 Hawks vs. #5 Heat-- [[image|url=http://d.yimg.com/eur.yimg.com/ng/sp/p5/20080503/04/3417168411.jpg|height=250|width=250|align=right]]
Jase claims that "the Heat's superior talent and experience will get them past the Hawks in seven." The absurdity of that statement is really what prompted me to write this whole piece. D-Wade is D-Wade, and he'll be the best player on the court at all times. And yes, as a Hawks fan I'm certainly worried about the refs. But superior overall talent? Give me a break. D-Wade is the only Heat player who'd even start on the Hawks. The Hawks have 5 very good starters--the Heat have 1. Obviously Wade has playoff experience, but the only other player on the Heat who was on that Championship team is Udonis Haslem. So unless you think Jermaine O'Neal's experience from a decade ago somehow matters in this series, the Hawks, who were in the playoffs last year, take this category as well. D-Wade will do his best, and the NBA will do its best to help him, but the '''''Hawks are way better than the Heat, and they'll take it in 6'''''.
#1 Lakers v. #8 Jazz-- last year this was a terrific matchup. This year, due to Carlos Boozer's injuries, among other things, the Jazz have fallen off a bit. Still, they're a well-coached, highly talented team which is ferocious at home. It'll be a good series once again, but '''''LA takes it in 6'''''.
#2 Nuggets vs. #7 Hornets-- Jase claims the Nuggets don't defend and rebound well enough. I don't understand how you make that claim about a team that was 8th in the league in defensive efficiency, and had a significantly positive rebounding margin. These aren't your AI Nuggets. Nene and Birdman give the Nuggets good interior D, and everyone knows Chauncey Billups is a terrific perimeter defender. The Nugs also have a deep rotation and play at a breakneck pace. In contrast, the Hornets are a two man team, with no depth at all, playing at one of the slowest speeds in the league. They'll crumble at the Nuggets pace. '''''Nuggets in 5'''''.
#3 Spurs vs. #6 Mavs-- a really intriguing match-up. Without Manu the Spurs aren't the same, and I really like the team the Mavs have assembled. Neither is a championship team. The Mavs are more talented overall, but the Spurs have that playoff mojo and will be difficult to beat in SA. Can a series end in a draw? If not, I'll give it to '''''Dallas in 6'''''.
#4 Blazers v. #5 Rockets-- this is a great matchup for the Blazers. Joel Przybilla, who is one of the best interior defenders in the league, will make life difficult for Yao, and Greg Oden will help him in spurts off the bench. The Blazers will make Ron Artest beat them, and on the other end will rely on a whole array of scorers like Aldridge, Fernandez, Blake to set up for their top dog Brandon Roy, who will be the best scorer on the court and will take over these games at the end. The Blazers also have homecourt, and you know their crowd will be going wild after missing the playoffs for several years in a row. '''''Blazers in 6'''''.
Who's calling it right, me or Jase? Let me hear about it in the comments, and don't forget to back up your talk with some of your own predictions.
(April 17, 2009)