With only one day to think about the upcoming NBA playoffs, I will try my best to access the matchups and give my thoughts on who will movie on as well as a few other thoughts on the NBA.
1) Chicago Bulls vs 8) Philadelphia 76ers- This series should be a bit of a warm up for the Bulls, especially for the fact that Derrick Rose is still not quite back to his MVP form from last year because of a nagging injury he has endured throughout the 2nd half of the season. If the Bulls struggle because of Rose’s inconsistency, the 76ers may be able to take a game or two, but I do not see an upset or a long series here. Bulls in 5.
2) Miami Heat vs. 7) New York Knicks- I always find it interesting how ESPN overhypes the LeBron vs Carmelo games because they were drafted in the top 3 in the 2003 NBA draft. The two of them (along with Dwayne Wade) have been superstars since they entered the league and are the only one who has a ring between the three of them is Wade. LeBron and Wade, apart of the ‘Big 3’ in Miami, have developed great team chemistry in the year and a half they have joined up in 2010 to contend for championships. Their biggest challenge is to win their first title as a team. For the Heat, it’s now or never for them to win, but it all starts with this series.
Carmelo Anthony has stepped up to be the man ever since Jeremy Lin sustained the season ending shoulder injury. Anthony can contribute to a good majority of the Knicks points, but the question is will the players around him help him out when he is double teamed by the Heat? The Knicks have the potential to make this an interesting series if the supporting cast around Anthony equally contributes to the cause; however, I just see Miami being too much for the Knicks who have a great season to look forward to next season if everyone stays there. Heat in 5-6.
3) Indiana Pacers vs. 6) Orlando Magic- Without Dwight Howard, the Magic have no chance of making this competitive. The Pacers, the surprise team this season (in my opinion), have a group of guys that are not necessarily super stars but have great team chemistry that helped them secure their 3 seed in a division that was dominated by Chicago. I wouldn’t be surprised if this ends in a sweep, but the Pacers should have no trouble moving past the Magic. Pacers in 4-5
4) Boston Celtics vs. 5) Atlanta Hawks- Yes, the Atlanta Hawks have a better record, giving them home court advantage over the Atlantic Division Champion Celtics. The Celtics, with their veteran starters rested up, should be ready to make what could be the last run for a title as the ‘Big three’. The Celtics have a good amount of momentum going their way because of their bench playing well over the last few games and the team has been playing great defense since the All-Star break. The Atlanta Hawks have a young team that has been playing well as of late, but their roster may look a little different once the season ends. Defense and experience will be the difference in this series. Celtics in 6.
1) San Antonio Spurs vs. 8) Utah Jazz- So the Spurs have been in this position of the top seed before and it has gone one of two ways in their recent past. In 2003, they won it all while last year’s playoff run ended in the 1st round against the Memphis Grizzlies. I’m not ready to say that they’re going to make a deep run and possibly make the finals, but if they want to do that, they need to focus on their current match up against the Jazz. The Jazz are great at home, so I don’t expect a sweep for either team. Going on who has more momentum going into the playoffs, I’ll say that the Spurs should have an easy time winning their first two games at home, putting pressure on the Jazz to even it up in Salt Lake City. The Jazz may get one game at home, but the Spurs are good on the road, especially in the playoffs. Spurs in 5
2) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. 7) Dallas Mavericks- The Thunder have been waiting for the playoffs to begin since they locked up their division a few weeks ago. They had a good enough record to place them in the top 2-3 teams, yet they weren’t resting players as much as other teams in the league did. What I found interesting was when they played the Lakers this past Sunday. Both Kevin Durant and Russel Westbrook shot poorly from the field, yet they barely lost to the Lakers in double overtime. That is scary. If one of those two players had made more shots, they would have won that game. For a team that is deep in all positions and great on both sides of the court, the Thunder are looking to make a deep run in the playoffs and should be able to win their series against a shell of a team that is the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavericks are missing key players that were vital to their championship run last year and they have struggled towards the end of the season. Thunder in 4-5.
3) Los Angeles Lakers vs. 6) Denver Nuggets- The Lakers will be missing Metta World Peace (Ron Artest) in this match up against the Nuggets but shouldn’t have too much trouble in this one. The Denver Nuggets surprised most teams at the start of the season with their new addition of players in addition to the great coaching of George Karl. The matchup to look for is the fount court match up between Kenneth Faried against Pau Gasol. Faried is quick and has some major hops. If everything clicks for the Nuggets, this could be an interesting series that could potentially be an upset. But like I said, everything has to fall into place. The Lakers have too much guard talent and should be able to outscore them from the perimeter to move onto the 2nd round.
Oh and Metta World Peace should be thankful that he didn’t get suspended for the entire playoffs. For hime having a history of violence on the court (and in the stands back in 2004), David Stern had every reason why he could have done that, but I guess he was being generous the day he gave out a 7 game suspension.
4) Memphis Grizzlies vs. 5) Los Angeles Clippers. A talented but struggling Clippers teams meets up against a Grizzlies team that surprised everyone last year when they knocked off the Spurs in the 1st round as an 8th seed. This series is a coin flip and could go either way. I almost want to side with the higher seeded team, but something tells me that Chris Paul won’t let the Clippers go out without a fight. This series has every possibility to go 7 games. Clippers in 7.