Predictions: The First Round


Fun fact before I get started; my preseason finals prediction was Heat vs. Suns. I don’t quite think that is holding up, but if it does I will brag about it endlessly and make bold predictions based on my credibility. But I disgress, on to the playoffs.

(By the way, I love how they changed the logo back to something seemingly normal. I don’t know what the hell they’ve been doing. Anyone else miss the old school NBA Playoff logo that used to be painted on the courts? Just me huh?)

Detroit vs. Orlando: I am only slightly intrigued by this series, simply because of Grant Hill’s return to Detroit, Dwight Howard’s playoff debut and the Magic’s throwbacks. That being said…Orlando has as Vince McMahon would say, no chance in hell against the Pistons. Detroit has too much and Orlando has too little. Even Flip Saunders can’t mess this one up. Orlando has no one who can guard Chauncey. Detroit’s starting five is just too much. But Orlando should be able to score right? Wrong. Detroit will throw double team after double team at Dwight Howard, forcing him to tough shots or to the line. He is going to work his ass off and earn anything and everything he gets. Rasheed Wallace always loves playing against other posts who get more pub than he does. With Dwight getting doubled, their best pure shooter JJ Redick can’t see the floor due to being a complete liability on D. It’s a tough matchup for the Magic, simply put, Orlando is a very poor man’s Detroit. Not good, I’m going to give Orlando one at home in front of that hungry crowd but that’s about it. Detroit in 5.

Cleveland vs. Washington: Cleveland fans definitely have to feel like they won the lottery. They went from prepping for D-Wade, Shaq and co. to Antawn Jamison, Antonio Daniels and Darius Songaila. The difference is immesurable. Washington has nothing going for them at all. Washington is going to compete and play hard, Eddie Jordan will have a good gameplan but at the end of the day they won’t be able to squeeze out a win. . Cleveland in 4.

Toronto vs. New Jersey: Toronto fans aren’t lying when they say they want Vince. Vince isn’t lying when he said he wants to play Toronto. Chicago screwed it up for the Raptors who would have had an easy pass to the 2nd round. Now they face a motivated and rejuvenated VC, JKidd and Richard Jefferson. It seems as if the popular pick is New Jersey. They’ve been on a roll…VC is going for revenge..too much playoff experience…Toronto is too young…I just don’t see it. At the end of the day NJ has the Big 3…and then what? Jason Collins? Cliff Robinson? Mikki Moore? Bastjon Nachbar? I don’t like their depth at all. Contrast that with Toronto who plays great team basketball and is selfless. Everyone believes in each other and they have a superstar in Chris Bosh who has been waiting for a chance at the playoffs. Granted, New Jersey has been on a roll, and if this was a 5-game series I would give it to them with ease. But I think that Toronto will wear them down…I mean how long can J Kidd chase TJ and Calderon around? Richard Jefferson has played a disappearing act all year and who says Vince won’t revert to trying to hit tough jumpers instead of getting triple doubles. Toronto has the 2nd best home record (30-11) and they have home court advantage. It is going to be a fun, rough series, I give the series to the feel-good Raptors aka Poor Man’s Phoenix.. Toronto in 6.

Miami vs. Chicago: Chicago has become a popular pick for the following reasons; most love to point out how…

  1. Chicago played Miami the toughest in last years playoffs.
  2. The Bulls added Ben Wallace to neturalize Shaq
  3. Chicago owned the season series 3-1
  4. The Bulls ‘want’ Miami

Seems like a popular pick right? I disagree with these myths.

First off, they still did not address their biggest problem from last year; the complete lack of a low post scoring threat. Last year they had Tyson Chandler and Mike Sweetney. This year it’s Ben Wallace. Everyone else is back and they still have the same issues. What everyone forgets about last year was the play of Nocioni. He was the reason the Bulls pushed them as far as they did. He averaged 22 and 8 in that series last year. The Bulls with Nocioni are 10 times more dangerous than without him. He finally had a good game against New Jersey (a loss need I remind you) but bringing that big of a part back so late could disrupt team chemistry. In Nocioni’s absence, Luol Deng broke out. What will happen now? The season series stat is almsot worthless because in two of Chicago’s wins over Miami, Shaq did not play. As a matter of fact in one both Shaq and D-Wade did not play. The first win came on Opening Night. Their last meeting; Miami 103, Chicago 70. And that was minus D-Wade. They have too many guys that Miami can ignore on the offensive end; Ben Wallace, PJ Brown (although he can still hit that midrange), Malik Allen, Adrian Griffin…I could keep on going. Chicago and their fans are going to regret Wednesday night for a few months. The defending champs get the benefit of the doubt n this one. Both teams are bringing back the same squads. Last year Miami won, why wouldn’t they again this year? Chicago is a great regular season team, I just don’t see their style of play working well in the playoffs.They have no low-post scoring threat, and without that you aren’t winning too many in the playoffs. Miami in 6.

Dallas vs. Golden State: There are two facts to this series

  1. Dallas has to slow the tempo down and control the pace to win this series.
  2. Dallas will win if it goes to 7 games.

I just don’t think its going to happen. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; this Dallas team feels like that 93-94 Seattle time that lost to Denver. Dallas has not faced that much adversity over the season. Think about it no big time injuries, no off-court issues, a handful of losses.. To me it just does not look too good for Dallas. People say that ‘the regular season is one thing, the playoffs are another’ but wrap your brain around this idea; Golden State has absolutely nothing to lose. Their fan base is so happy just to be back in the playoffs as are the players to a certain degree. They are going to play loose which is perfect for an offensive minded team who loves to get up and down the court. Meanwhile, Dallas has everything to lose. This year is NBA Title or Bust. That is a whole lot of pressure right there, and seeing as how they haven’t faced a lot of adversity and haven’t beaten this team…I could easily see them getting tight. And let us not forget…Golden State is playing their best basketball of the season right now people. They played their way in. A 6-game losing streak dropped them to 26-35, left them for dead in the playoff race. What did they do? They finished the year 16-5. Baron Davis has not looked this good in years. To be honest Dallas has gotten a real bad matchup with Golden State. The Warriors are going to go small and play fast, that’s what Nellieball is all about. They could go with BD, Monta, Jason Richardson, Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington. Who is Dirk going to guard? I mean excuse me who is Dirk going to guard and not get beat by? Send a double team…three ball. They love the three-ball… almsot a little too much. Also you forget…Don Nelson knows the Mavs like the bottom of a scotch bottle. He can take Dirk away, he saw the man practice forever, he knows his every move. He does that…then who is going to step up? Erick Dampier and Diop are going to be near non-factors in this series…who can they guard??? And then if you go with a defensive lineup (putting an aging Devean George and Greg Buckner in) you’re sacrificing offense as well. Avery has to know
that the only way they can win is to control the tempo, but in the two matchups (that counted) Dallas showed no signs of slowing down. Is Golden State erratic as hell? Yes. Are they entertaining as hell? Yes. Dallas will win it if it goes to 7, but again its not. The matchup just is not right for them. The Oracle will be rocking baby, let the good times roll in the Bay Area. As long as the freakin Hyphy Movement doesn’t comeback, because I swear I’ll revoke this pick ASAP. Warriors in 6.

San Antonio vs. Denver: It would be easy (and foolish) to feel Denver is an upset pick. Sure, I mean they have only lost one game in the month of April. They’ve got Carmelo and AI..whats not to like right? Wrong, wrong, wrong. If you think Denver can beat San Antonio 4 out of 7 times, including once in San Antonio you’ve probably never watched a game of basketball in your life. This is the last team on this earth that Denver wanted to face. They know that, their coach knows that, their management knows that and their casual fans know that (the diehards will never admit it but they know it too). San Antonio is really really good. And they are on a mission. They’ve always had experience, they have always had defense and played smart, they’ve been good for a while. Think about how scare this is; now they are scoring. How dangerous is that?? They averaged 98.5 PPG this year (up for 95.6) and shot 38% from three. San Antonio getting damn near a 100 points a game? You cannot beat that. I’m sorry. Add to that a healthy (and motivated) Tim Duncan and you are in some major doo doo Denver. Melo is going to have a tough time against Bruce Bowen and if he is not going, the Nuggets aren’t going. Sorry Denver… wrong place, wrong time. Spurs in 5.

Houston vs. Utah: I’ve talked about this series before; Houston is my sleeper in the West. If they get past Utah, I strongly believe they are going to the WCF. Utah is backing into the playoffs in every sense. You know a team has played bad of late when they erase any and all memories of how they were successful. ‘Utah won 50 games? How???’ I’m giving this series to the Rockets based on a couple things; 1) Home Court Advantage and 2) Tracy McGrady. He is playing out of this world right now. Look at the way he took over the game vs. Phoenix with a near triple double in a win. He is a hungry animal people. Everyone has been talking about LeBron, Carmelo, D-Wade, Gilbert, Kobe…T-Mac has been out of the conversation for a while. There has been great reason for that, but he is ready to get back in the same breath as them. And to finally advance past the first round for the first time in his career. The mini interview he just had with Stephen A Smith on ESPN2…Damn. The man said ‘If we don’t get past the first round, it’s on me’ with a mean ass mug. Beware Utah. Houston of course is not without it’s faults. They struggle against the pick & roll and Yao will have a hell of a time guarding Okur on pick and pops. Carlos Boozer is an absolute beast, and if Deron Williams can regain his midseason form it’s trouble. Sloan is a great coach and Utah will make this a good one, but Houston will eventually prevail. The Jazz don’t have anyone who can guard T-Mac or Yao. Unless Rafer Alston plays like a toddler, the Rockets prevail in one of the more competitive first round series. Rockets in 7.

Phoenix vs. LA Lakers: This is not going to be a sweep. The Lakers seemingly have taken this series personal. I think if Black Mamba could pull this out, he would immediately leap into the next stratosphere of greatness. Don’t think he doesn’t know that. Kwame Brown is back…don’t think LA’s bigs aren’t motivated to shut Amare down. And Phil Jackson has got to want Phoenix’s blood for smearing his legacy.

See how easy it is to BS your way into a pick? Suns in 5.