Finally the NBA Playoffs have arrived after a long and memorable 2010-11 season, full of trades, A hall of fame coach retiring, and the hate for the Miami Heat. I am going to break down each series and give my predictions all the way to the NBA Finals.
1 Chicago Bulls vs. 8 Indiana Pacers (regular season Bulls 3-1)
In his first season as head coach Tom Thibodeau has led the Bulls to a 62-20 record and the best record in the NBA. Derrick Rose(25ppg 7.7apg) in his 3rd season has established himself as the best point guard in the league and the front runner for the MVP award. With a sturdy frontcourt of Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, and center Joakim Noah, the Bulls are set to make a deep playoff run.
The Pacers crawled into the playoffs as a eight seed with a 37-45 record. Their leading scorer is Danny Granger at 20 points per game, while center Roy Hibbert is averaging 12.7ppg and 7.5 rpg. Let me flat out say this and get it over with. They Pacers don;t have a chance of winning this series. If they win more then one game i would be shocked.
Bulls win the series 4-0
2 Miami Heat vs. 7 Philadelphia 76ers (regular season Heat 3-0)
Me being born and raised here in Philly, this was a match-up I wasn’t looking forward to for my Sixers. The Sixers are an athletic, open court team who thrives off of playing a team game due to the fact that they don’t have a star player on their team. They have a young point guard in Jrue Holiday(14ppg 6.5apg 2.7tpg) who is a promising young player, but this is his first playoff experience. At 20 years old, Holiday makes the occasional careless turnover which could kill the Sixers in this series. In the playoffs the game becomes more of a halfcourt game and Philly doesn’t have a legit first option to end scoring droughts. Andre Iguodala won’t get the job done….bottom line. And we won’t know what kind of shape Lou Williams’ Hamstring is in until the game starts.
The Miami Heat(58-24) came into the season on paper as the favorite to win the NBA title.Well the game isn’t played on paper and it took sometime for the so called new “Big 3” to learn to play with each other. Coming into the playoffs they have won 8 out of their last 10 games and are playing great defense, forcing turnovers , getting out in the open court and getting easy buckets. The Sixers are a tough team and they play team ball, but they don’t have enough to win this series.
Heat wins the series 4-1
3 Boston Celtics vs. 6 New York Knicks (regular season Celtics 4-0)
I’m really looking forward to watching this series. The Knicks were happy to get Carmelo Anthony(26.3ppg 6.7rpg) in a blockbuster trade at the trade deadline and it took sometime for this team to adjust to having another star on the team. The Knicks are 7-3 in there last 10 games coming into the playoffs and while we all know they can score with the best of them, the problem has been with all Mike D’Antoni coached teams: DEFENSE. The Knicks aren’t a great defensive team by any means and they don’t rebound the ball well either. But with Carmelo and Amare they have a chance in a seven game series.
This Boston team hasn’t been the same team after the shocking Kendrick Perkins trade. Perkins importance to this team can’t be measured in stats. He allowed the Celtics to do a lot on defense because he was able to guard the others teams bigs one on one. He brought a toughness and a certain bully mentality that you need in the playoffs to be successful. While they have struggled down the stretch(just a 5-5 record in last 10 games), I believe they will be ready for the playoffs. Besides missing Perkins, they still have 4 of the 5 starters from the team that won the title in 2008. The only question I have is the combo of Shaq and Jermaine O’Neal at center and their role players.
Celtics win this series 4-3
4 Orlando Magic vs. 5 Atlanta Hawks (regular season Hawks 3-1)
Last year these two teams met in the Conference Semifinals and the Hawks got their asses kicked 4-0. Joe Johnson was a no show, Jamal Crawford didn’t play well in his first year being in the playoffs and Josh Smith quit on the team at different times during the series. Oh and Al Horford was made to look like a little boy by Dwight Howard.
Joe Johnson’s(18.2ppg 4.7apg) no show still landed him a max contract and this year the Hawks will face the Magic in the first round of the playoffs. However, the Hawks had success against the Orlando Magic this season winning 3 of 4 games. Josh Smith(16.5ppg, 8.5rpg, 1.56bpg) and Al Horford(15.3ppg 9.3 rpg) were their usual steady selves this season, providing stellar play in the paint on both ends of the courts. The Hawks traded Mike Bibby to the Wizards for Kirk Hinrich who gives the Hawks a younger player with more of a defensive presence at the point guard position. Jamal Crawford still gives the a legit scoring threat of the bench, with the ability to go for 20-30 points on a given night. Zaza Puchulia brings toughness and minutes to give Al Horford a blow against Howard and the chance to move to his natural position of power forward.
The Magic are a totally different team as far as personnel then the team that swept the Hawks last season. Out of the loop is Rashard Lewis(the most overpaid player in sports) and Vince Carter and in the loop is Jason Richardson(15.6ppg) and Gilbert Arenas(10.6 ppg ,36fg%,29% 3ptfg) who is done for as a player. The key player brought in is Hedo Turkoglu(10.8ppg,4rpg,4apg) who was a key contributor on the team that went to the NBA Finals in 2009. He allows Jameer Nelson to play off the ball and serves as the backup point guard. He and Dwight Howard play well off of each other, Hedo provides him with plenty of easy hoops off of lobs and pick and roll. Bottom line is the Magic have the best Center in basketball on both ends of the court and as he goes, so goes the Magic.
Magic wins the series 4-2
1 Chicago Bulls vs. 4 Orlando Magic
I think the Bulls have enough big bodies to run at Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose is going to be too much for the Magic guards to handle. The Bulls team defense and Luol Deng will be the difference. The deciding game might be Dwight Howard’s last as a Orlando Magic.
Bulls win the series 4-2
2 Miami Heat vs. 3 Boston Celtics
If it comes to pass, this will be a great series to watch. The Celtics are the gristle, veteran team with championship experience. The Heat have the talent, and a NBA Finals MVP in Dwayne Wade to go along with Lebron James and Chris Bosh. This series is going to be physical and low scoring. this first team to 90 wins type of series. At the end I think the Heat wins in 7.
Heat win the series 4-3
Eastern Conference Finals
1 Chicago Bulls vs. 2 Miami Heat
During the regular season the Bulls won all three games against the Heat. The Bulls established themselves as a legit title contender. The Heat has the star power to make it to the NBA Finals, but I don’t believe it will be enough. The Bulls have the deeper team, the MVP and they are better defensively. I like the Bulls in seven games.
Bulls win the series 4-3
1 San Antonio Spurs vs. 8 Memphis Grizzlies (regular season tied 2-2)
This series might be closer then what the seeding predicts, Manu Ginobili(17ppg,5apg) hyper-extended his right elbow in a game this past week and I’m looking forward to seeing how he plays in this series. This Spurs team came out like gangbusters to start the season and have sputtered down the stretch winning only 4 of their last 10 games. Tim Duncan(13ppg,9rpg,2bpg) is still productive, but is not the player he was 3 or 4 years ago. Tony Parker is still performing at a high level and they depend on the young group of role players to perform at a high level and win games. George Hill(11.8ppg) and Rookie Gary Neal(10ppg) provide scoring and three point shooting off the bench. Dejuan Blair is undersized, but he is tough and gives great effort on both ends of the court.
The Memphis Grizzles(46-36) have returned to the playoffs under the coaching of Lionel Hollins after a 5 year hiatus. They were able to hold on to a playoff spot even though losing their best player Rudy Gay in the middle of the season. They have been leaning on the shoulders of Zach Randolph(20.1ppg, 12.2rpg) heavily since Gay went down and he has carried them right into the playoffs with his consistent scoring and rebounding on a nightly basis. Mike Conley gives them solid play at the point guard position and Tony Allen, Sam Young, and O.J. Mayo gives them a sloid rotation of role players at the 2-3 position. The addition of SF Shane Battier at the trade deadline gives the a defensive player, spot up 3 point shooter, and the veteran leadership they need in the playoffs on a young team. Also Center Marc Gasol should be able to take advantage of the thin Spurs frontline on both ends of the court.
With that being said, I believe the Grizzlies will give the Spurs a tough time, but will lose the series in 6.
Spurs win the series 4-2
2 L.A. Lakers vs. 7 New Orleans Hornets (regular season Lakers 4-0)
After the All Star break the Lakers were playing the best basketball in the NBA, but recently they for some reason have slacked off and they are 5-5 in their last ten games. The beat up on the Hornets during the regular season, winning all four matchups. We all know what Kobe is and what he brings to the table, the key for the Lakers is the production they get from their frontline: Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, and sixth man Lamar Odom. Bynum went down earlier in the week with a knee injury against the Spurs and it looked bad. It was later found to be a bone bruise and he will be fine and ready for round 1. As long as the Lakers don’t get bored they should breeze through the Hornets.
The Hornets made it into the playoffs on the tails off their All Star point guard Chris Paul. Without him this team doesn’t win 30 games. They lost PF David West(19ppg,7.6rpg) to a torn ACL for the last 12 games of the season, and luckily they had traded Marcus Thornton to the Kings for PF Marcus Landry(12ppg,4.6rpg). This is really a bad matchup for the Hornets, they only advantage they have is at point guard position, the are undersized in the paint against the Lakers.
The bottom line is the Hornets simply don’t have enough talent to win more then a game in this series.
Lakers win the series 4-1
3 Dallas Mavericks vs. 6 Portland Trailblazers (regular season tied 2-2)
I really thought high of this Mavericks team, before Caron Butler went down with a Torn ACL. He really bought a certain toughness and defensive attitude to this team that it lacked, along with Brendan Haywood and the offseason addition of Tyson Chandler.The Mavs are getting a combined 14ppg and 14rpg along with 2 blocks from the center posiiton. They are still led by future hall of famer Dirk Nowitski(23ppg, 7rpg) who can still get the job done on the offensive end. Jason Kidd runs a steady point while Jason Terry(15.8ppg) is instant offense off of the bench. Shawn Merion provides scoring,energy, rebounding off the pine as well.
The Portland TrailBlazers(48-34) have been scorned with injuries to key players all season long. Greg Oden was ruled out for the season before he even played a game with another knee injury. Marcus Camby missed 23 games due to injury and now former franchise player Brandon Roy missed 35 games due to a career shortening injury to both knees. This made the signing of Wes Matthews(16ppg) one of the best of the offseason. He shoots the ball well, defends and is a young and upcoming player in the league. LaMarcus Aldridge(22ppg,9rpg) was deserving of a spot on the All-Star and has developed into a legit star player in this league. They have a veteran at the point in Andre Miller who still gets the job done and adding Gerald Wallace(16ppg,7.6rpg, 2spg) at the trade deadline was a key move for the Blazers and I believe adding a player like Wallace will payoff in the playoffs. The Blazers already play at a slow,playoff style pace while they are able to force turnovers and get out on the break and score.
I like the Blazers to win in seven 4-3
4 OKC Thunder vs. 5 Denver Nuggets (regular season OKC 3-1)
OKC comes into this years playoffs as a 4 seed a big jump from the 8 seed they had last yr playing the Lakers in the first round. They are lead by the superstar duo of Kevin Durant(27.7ppg) and Russell Westbrook(22ppg,8apg) who are set to take this team on a deep run in the playoffs. The addition of Kendrick Perkins at the center position gives the Thunder a legit defensive force in the paint and enforcer to play alongside the promising Serge Ibaka(10ppg,7.6rpg,2.4bpg). I like the James Harden, Thabo Sefolosha, Eric Maynor, and Nick Collison and the roles they play for the team.This team has the star power, along with the role players to make it to the conference Finals.
Who would have thought that after trading Carmelo Anthony, the Nuggets would have played as well as they have(18-7 since Melo left)? The players Denver received for Melo has made them a deeper team, while becoming a better defensive team after the trade as well. While not having a star player anymore, the Nuggets are basically two deep at every position. They have 8 players scoring double figures per game and 9 players playing at least 20 minutes per game. They share the ball and play hard for Coach George Karl. Is it enough for them to advance to the next round? In my opinion, no but it will be some good basketball to watch.
Thunder wins the series 4-2
Western Conference Semifinals
1 San Antonio vs. 4 OKC Thunder
I know the Spurs have the experience and a veteran team, but I believe the Thunder wins this series in 6 or 7 games. Durant and Westbrook are that good and as the playoffs get deeper Kendrick Perkins will show why he’s a good piece on a title contending team.
OKC wins the series 4-2
2 L.A. Lakers vs. 6 Portland TrailBlazers
The Blazers play the Lakers tough and they have bodies to run at Kobe to attempt to slow him down. Lamarcus Aldridge is playing as well as Pau Gasol and maybe better. Aldrige will most likely get his but the key is to keep Wallace and Camby off the offensive glass and Odom and Bynum need to show up in this series. It’s going to be a great series that might go seven games. At the end of the day the Lakers have the experience and the championship pedigree.
Lakers win the series 4-3
Western Conference Finals
2 L.A. Lakers vs 4 OKC Thunder
This will be exactly what the Thunder wants after losing in six games to the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs last year. Durant and Westbrook and year older, wiser, and better against the 2 time defending champs the Lakers. Kendrick Perkins tore his ACL in game 6 of the Finals last year against the Lakers while playing for the Celtics and most believe if he wasn’t hurt for game seven the Celtics would have won.
If the Lakers are healthy coming into this series, they will be tough to beat in a seven game series. They are the more experienced team and have the best closer in basketball. Like I’ve said before, we all know what Kobe brings to the table, its the other players that need to play up to their ability. Derek Fisher and Ron Artest need to hit open shots when called upon and play solid defense. And of cousre Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom are the ultimate key to the Lakers winning a third straight NBA title. If they control the paint on both ends of the floor and stay out of foul trouble, the Lakers will be fine.
Lakers win the series 4-3
Chicago Bulls vs. L.A. Lakers
Coming into this season I never thought the Bulls would be this good of a team, I knew Rose was legit but I didn’t expect him to be on this level soo fast. The job Tom Thibodeau has done with this team is amazing. The Bulls have Rose, along with Noah, Deng, and Boozer to form a solid nucleus. On their defense alone they will always stay in games. The Lakers have no one to match-up with Rose, but against the other starting four they have favorable match-ups. Deng is a solid second scoring option, but Artest should be able to control him.
The Lakers have Kobe and Gasol and shouldn’t have a problem scoring. Joakim Noah is a great defender and he will most likely check Gasol and the Lakers should make it a habit of going at Noah to gt him in foul trouble. That also would leave Boozer on Bynum or Odom which should be a mismatch from the door. I like the benches from both teams, but I will give the Lakers the edge with Odom leading the second unit.
At the end I believe the Lakers will hoist their 3rd trophy in the row and they will win it in 6 games.
Lakers win Finals 4-2
I hope everyone enjoys reading this article as much as I love sharing my views and opinions on sports. I almost signed up to go to school to be a cardiology tech this week, and as I sat there in the admissions office I thought to myself “Brandon do you really want to do that for the rest of your life?” I got out of there so fast. Real fast. This is my life and my passion, all I know and what I love to do. And I won’t stop til I get where I want to be. I just want my voice to be heard. I do what I do straight from the muscle.