NBA Playoffs Preview – First Round

This is written by somebody who we are hoping will become a regular contributor. His name is Adam and he actually knows and follows the NBA which -as many of you know- is something we’ve been missing from this website. Either way, here’s his preview for the playoffs:

First off, I would like to say that I live in the greatest state for the NBA…Missouri, with two major cities St. Louis and Kansas City and a combined number of zero teams. So that means I have no team, but I love the NBA and always have since I can remember, of course I grew up a Bulls fan (who didn’t)!

The NBA seems to be somewhat rejuvenated from a competitive standpoint with a crop of true Superstars in LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, and many more. Sure the defense is still lax for most of the game during the regular season, but for the Playoffs it is different. That’s why I’ve always said that for the casual basketball fan or the NBA hater that the NBA Playoffs are the time to watch. It’s when the greatest players in the world play their hardest and for the NBA fan, it’s the best time of the year!

For The First Round I’ll keep things pretty short, I’ll add in more stats and stuff for the other rounds! Plus the First Round in the East doesn’t have that good of matchups, but just wait for the second round.

Playoff Matchups

Eastern Conference

#1 Cleveland Cavaliers (61-21)

Vs.

#8 Chicago Bulls (41-41)

So the Bulls won the last game of the season to make the Playoffs, but they get the King in the first round. The Cavs are fully rested and ready to make a run to the finals. The Bulls have been playing hard just to make the Playoffs, Joakim Noah has just started to come back and make an impact, while Derrick Rose has been incredible. But the Cavs are just stacked at every position…and not just because LeBron James can play every position. The team has Mo Williams, Antawn Jamison, Shaq, Varejao, J.J. Hickson, Delonte West, and one of my favorite names in the NBA Zydrunas Ilgauskas or Big Z for short. All of these players would be starters on almost any NBA team. All that said, I’ll take the Cavs to sweep the Bulls. The Bulls have talent, just not enough, plus the Cavs have LeBron, enough said! Just watch the series to see what LeBron will do to blow your mind!

Cavs in 4

#2 Orlando Magic (59-23)

Vs.

#7 Charlotte Bobcats (44-38)

Give it up for the Charlotte Bobcats’ first time to the NBA Playoffs and Larry Brown’s 80th different team he’s taken to the Playoffs. It’s too bad they get the Magic, the only team to legitimately threaten the Cavs chances of getting to the Finals. The Bobcats who are now owned by Michael Jordan have some good players in Raymond Felton, Gerald Wallace, and Stephen Jackson, but it won’t be enough to beat the Magic who for a second year in a row look like a Championship caliber team. Like the Cavaliers, the Magic’s team is loaded with talent up and down the roster. An NBA Record 841 three pointers this season, Dwight Howard leading the NBA in rebounding, blocks, and field goal percentage. Also, Vince Carter, Jameer Nelson and Rashard Lewis are much better than what the Bobcats have. After the Magic sweep the Bobcats in the first round I’ll go into more detail about the talent the Magic have. Hopefully Michael Jordan can keep his team heading in the right direction, this season definitely shows promise for the future!

Magic in 4

#3 Atlanta Hawks (53-29)

Vs.

#6 Milwaukee Bucks (46-36)

This would be the best opening round series in the Eastern Conference if Andrew Bogut was playing, but his season ending elbow injury doesn’t let this happen. The Bucks traded for John Salmons during the middle of the season and (I don’t have the numbers, so just go with me) became one of the better teams in the East with Salmons on the roster. With Bogut, Salmons, and Rookie of the Year Candidate (not going to get it) Brandon Jennings their future is bright.

The Hawks will dominate the boards in this series with Al Horford and Josh Smith, especially with the absence of Bogut. Joe Johnson who still is one of the most underrated players in the league will have to play well against Salmons to make sure his team advances. Another player who killed me in my fantasy basketball league this year was Jamal Crawford, draining three’s from everywhere. He’s going to win the Sixth Man Award and will need to be a major factor if the Hawks want to get passed the Second Round. For my prediction…I wish Andrew Bogut was playing, but since he is not I’ll take the Hawks in 5, but watch out for the Bucks in the next few years.

Hawks in 5

#4 Boston Celtics (50-30)

Vs.

#5 Miami Heat (46-35)

I know the Celtics are old and their best days are behind them but they still have 4 players in Pierce, Allen, Garnett, and Rondo that will make a huge difference in the series. I think Rajon Rondo is one of the most underrated and most talented point guards in the NBA, but he can’t shoot! Ray Allen and Paul Pierce can both get hot and completely change any game. If KG can consistently hit his outside shots and make somewhat of a defensive impact on the game, this team will make trouble for opponents. The Celtics have too many old guys so to really make a legitimate push to get to the finals, but the bench will need to be play well. It is tough to predict how Rasheed Wallace, Michael Finley, Marquis Daniels and Nate Robinson will play. I expect Tony Allen and Big Baby Davis to play a good amount during this series and contribute a decent amount. Tony Allen seems to be a consistent spark off of the bench at least during the games I’ve seen recently.

The Miami Heat, basically a one man team…Dwayne Wade or what I like to call him, one of the better nicknames in the NBA “Flash”! If it weren’t for him, they wouldn’t be close to the Playoffs. Up and down the lineup the Heat just don’t have what it takes to win in this series. The Jermaine O’Neal/Kendrick Perkins battle should be interesting, both good rebounders and shot blockers, we’ll see if Perkins can handle O’Neal’s outside ability. Other than that the Celtics will have to play solid defense against, Michael Beasley, Udonis Haslem, and Quentin Richardson and the bench isn’t that deep so figuring out a way to contain Dwayne Wade is the main focus. Let’s just say that I don’t think the Heat have a chance at winning this series. I’ll give them two games, one just in case Dwayne Wade goes off and another because the Celtics will probably have an off night somewhere…they seem to do this.

Celtics in 6.

Western Conference

In the West, the Playoffs are different; any team could beat any team. But will the Thunder beat the Lakers or Spurs beat the Mavericks, it can happen out in the West. These are the series to watch during the NBA playoffs. All of the teams have Superstars, with the exception of the Blazers now that Brandon Roy is out with an injury. So sit back and enjoy basketball at it’s competitive best in the West!

#1 Los Angeles Lakers (57-25)

Vs.

#8 Oklahoma City Thunder (50-32)

The defending Champs have been playing some of their worst basketball lately. This is kind of scary because they are facing a team that has the potential to beat them, but I don’t think this will happen. Kevin Durant is much better at his age than I thought he would be so I’m done underestimating him. Russell Westbrook has been playing great and has earned himself a spot on the National Team. Ultimately, the Lakers will get going in this series. They have too much talent and size. Pau Gasol will dominate the paint in this series, Lamar Odom will rebound well, Ron Artest will probably get under someone’s skin, and then there’s KOBE. The Thunder are another team that have a bright future with Durant, Westbrook, and Jeff Green, but they got the Lakers. My prediction is that the Thunder give the Lakers trouble for the first few games like they did in the season with all of their games being close, except the last one where the Thunder destroyed the Lakers. After a few gamesthe Lakers will start to round into form to take the series.

Lakers in 6

#2 Dallas Mavericks (55-27)

Vs.

#7 San Antonio Spurs (50-32)

This Texas series is going to be a battle. These teams do not like each other and this will be the second year in a row that these two teams have played against each other in the Playoffs. This year, there is a new cast of characters on both teams to reignite the rivalry. The Mavericks acquired Brendan Haywood and Caron Butler from the Wizards and helped spark the Mavericks all the way to the two seed. While the Spurs got Richard Jefferson and Dejuan Bair through the draft and maybe some other players, I don’t really care. All of this said, The Spurs are just too old for me and plus it’s the only NBA team that I can’t stand (Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker especially). My hope is that the Mavs would sweep them, but I know this is not going to happen. Tim Duncan all though boring as he is can still dominate. Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, and Shawn Marion will need to push the tempo to keep the old guys running to ensure victory, but I see this as a long and hard fought series because both of these teams have so much Playoff experience, with the edge going to the Spurs. The Mavericks will need to play extremely well to beat this team.

Mavericks in 7

#3 Phoenix Suns (54-28)

Vs.

#6 Portland Trail Blazers (50-32)

Another series where injuries are the main focus. Brandon Roy, the Blazers best player is out for the first round (might as well be for the entire playoffs). The Blazers are not going to beat the Suns without him. You have to give it up to the Blazers this year for even making the Playoffs. Injuries to their two starting centers Greg Oden & Joel Pryzbilla, Brandon Roy has spent a ton of time on the bench hurt and trades the acquisition of Marcus Camby have seen the Blazers rollercoaster of a season land them in the 6 spot. The Blazers’ other star, LaMarcus Aldridge will have to play amazing for the Blazers to have a chance.

The Suns on the other hand are pretty hot coming into the Playoffs. All the trade speculation of Amar’e Stoudemire has lit a fire under him and he has been playing out of his mind. With Steve Nash at point, their pick and roll duo is one of, if not the best to watch in the NBA. The up-tempo style the Suns play will eventually wear down the Blazer players. The Suns have too many options out on the perimeter, Nash, Channing Frye, Josh Dudley, Jason Richardson, and even Grant Hill. One player to watch out for as an up and comer is Goran Dragic. I’ve watched him play in a few games over the last month or two and he has impressed me. All that said, no Brandon Roy=a first round exit.

Suns in 6

#4 Denver Nuggets (53-29)

Vs.

#5 Utah Jazz (53-29)

The Nuggets and Jazz is the most intriguing Playoff matchup in the West other than the Spur-Mavs series to me. Both of these teams are in the same division and ended up with the same exact record. The Nuggets, who have been playing below their standards lately will hopefully find something to play their best for…um maybe their coach who was diagnosed with cancer during the season and who may not even be able to coach until the second round of the Playoffs. Of course I’m talking about George Karl…I hope he can get back to the sidelines where he belongs. Denver will need to get off to a hot start, which means J.R. Smith will need to be shooting great. Chauncey Billups and Carmelo will need to lead by example for the rest of their team while George Karl is gone. Nene needs to stay out of foul trouble, Kenyon Martin needs to be effective, and the Nuggets bench will need to have an impact (I’m talking to you Birdman).

Utah comes into the series with a few injury questions. How well will Carlos Boozer play since he is a game-time decision for Game 1? Will Andrei Kirilenko be able to defend Carmelo as well as he can with his calf injury? One thing is for sure though, Deron Williams. He will have to lead this team if they want to move on to the next round. Paul Millsap, C.J. Miles, and Mehmet Okur will have to contribute and not stand around and watch Deron Williams…Okur and Kyle Korver are going to have to hit their open three-pointers, when Williams drives and kicks out to them. Hopefully injuries don’t play a factor in this series because this could be one of the best first round series this season. I like the Nuggets to find a way to get to the next round so their Coach can get back to where he belongs.

Nuggets in 7

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2 Responses

  1. GO SPURS!!!!

  2. I also doubt there will be as many sweeps as you think, although the East is generally worse than the West in bball, so maybe.

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