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NBA Playoffs Preview

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After the layoffs, the playoffs!

The NBA playoffs are here and I for one am very excited.  This season hosts some of the most exciting and intriguing first round match-ups in NBA history.  The 2011-2012 66-game strike-shortened regular season was filled with many surprises, both good and bad.  From the ageless San Antonio Spurs finishing #1 in the Western Conference to “Linsanity” spreading through the world like wildfire, NBA fans have had more than they bargained for during this compact season.  But what happened in the regular season is behind us and all anyone cares about now is that diamond hardware that looks so damn good on your finger, the Championship Ring!Here is a breakdown of each first round match-up and how we feel they will play out.

EASTERN CONFERENCE 

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Bulls screw cows; cows make milk; milk makes cheese; Philly makes cheese steaks - Bulls screw Philly

#1 Chicago Bulls vs. #8 Philadelphia 76ers

Chicago once again had an unbelievable regular season and fly into the playoffs with large expectations.  After losing to the Miami Heat last season in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Bulls will look to move at least one step closer to that Ring this year.  Lead by last seasons MVP Derrick Rose, the young, deep, and extremely talented Bulls will continue to practice what coach Tom Thibodeau has been preaching for two seasons now…DEFENSE!  Faced with injuries all season, the Bulls have not missed a step and seem to be playing some of their best basketball.  The Philadelphia 76ers are not coming into this series with much optimism at all.  The 76ers have been the worst playoff team since the All-Star break and almost fell short of even making the final seed in the East.  Philly does have some great young talent in Jrue Holiday, Lou Williams and Evan Turner, but they don’t have nearly enough help around them to even challenge the Bulls.  I expect this to be a series that requires a broom…(sweep). (Prediction Bulls win 4-0) 

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Miami is hot; NY is cool; Heat melts Knicks

#2 Miami Heat vs. #7 New York Knicks

Call me biased all you want but this is without question the most intriguing and all-star packed match-up of the first round.  Yes, Miami has beaten the Knicks all three games they played during the regular season but those who have followed the Knicks would know that the team they are sending into the playoffs is a team the Heat have not faced yet.  Miami has done what everyone expected them to do by finishing in one of the top two seeds in the East and they seemed to do it pretty easily, but the Heat did show where some weakness may lie and if the Knicks can exploit that they have a chance.  Miami prides itself on shutting down the middle of the lane and forcing their opponents to shoot the perimeter jumpers…GREAT! The Knicks finally seem to have a steady rotation of players and thrive off the 3-point arc while playing off of Carmelo Anthony’s isolation.  If the Knicks play their best ball and prevent Dwayne Wade and Lebron James from getting open-court fast-break opportunities then I feel they can give the Heat a run for their money.  Hopefully the Knicks can give the Heat a handful of Steve ‘Novak’aine shots throughout the series but even if they do I still feel that Wade and James will be too much to handle. (Prediction Heat win 4-3) 

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Orlando's wand is broken - no magic; in de end Indiana

#3 Indiana Pacers vs. #6 Orlando Magic

With Dwight Howard out for the Playoffs, the Magic have absolutely no hope in winning this series.  Frank Vogel has led his Indiana Pacers to one of their more surprising and successful seasons in franchise history.  With the acquisition of David West in the off-season and the emergence of Roy Hibbert at the center position, Indiana has once again become a team to recon with.  Danny Granger has been playing great and the Pacers seem to be clicking on all cylinders.  The Magic, on the other hand, have been in straight free-fall since Dwight Howard decided he wanted to find a way to tarnish what has been a perfect start to a career.  This will be Stan Van Gundy’s last playoff series as Orlando’s head coach and he should have no trouble finding a new job with his credentials.  Ryan Anderson and Jameer Nelson will not be enough to stop a Pacers team that plays 10 players deep and throws a high-paced offensive attack for the full 48 minutes every game. (Prediction Pacers win 4-1)

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Sell tix or hawk tix? Make money either way, but my money on Sell tix

#4 Boston Celtics vs. #5 Atlanta Hawks

Even though Boston finished in the #4 seed by winning the Atlantic Division, the Hawks will have home-court advantage in this series because of their regular season record.  When the season started critics jumped all over the “old and washed up” Boston Celtics because of  their uncharacteristically slow start.  Those same critics were humming a different tune after the All-Star break.  The Boston Celtics have been playing great basketball with Ray Allen taking a lesser role coming off the bench for the first time since the beginning of his career and Kevin Garnett is looking like the same player that dominated the NBA for over a decade.  Paul Pierce has looked like the consistent, dominant scorer he has always been and Rajon Rondo has quickly become one of the most respected point guards in the NBA with his array of statistical dominating stats.  The Atlanta Hawks have once again proved to be good enough to make the playoffs, but nowhere near scary enough to threaten anyone’s progress throughout them.  Joe Johnson has looked good and Josh Smith is one of the most electrifying power forwards in the NBA, but the Hawks just don’t have enough to throw at Boston with the way they are playing. (Predictions Celtics win 4-2)

WESTERN CONFERENCE

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Cool Jazz cannot get spurred on like San Antonio

#1 San Antonio Spurs vs. #8 Utah Jazz

The Spurs are going to try and party like it’s 1999…and 2003, 2005, 2007.  For all you sports fans out there, those are the years the Spurs won all 4 of their NBA titles.  The one common denominator in all those seasons is a gentleman that goes by the name of Tim Duncan.  Arguably the greatest Power Forward to ever step on the hardwood, Duncan has help lead his team to an extremely surprising #1 seed in the West.  Although Duncan’s resume is undeniably incredible, the Spurs can attribute most of this seasons success to their French point guard Tony Parker, who has taken the NBA by storm this season with his fast cuts and effortless passing.  San Antonio’s coach, Gregg Popovich has lead his team to a 20-2 record to close out the season and it does not look like anyone is going to be able to stop them.  The Utah Jazz have a very talented team that made a strong push at the end of the season to hold on to the final seed in the West.  Paul Milsap will give either Duncan or Dejuan Blair all they can handle in the low-post but outside of him Utah really does not have many options.  I expect Utah to keep up with the Spurs for a couple of games but it won’t last long enough.  (Prediction Spurs win 4-1)

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Thunder will bring reign to soak Dallas

#2 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. #7 Dallas Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks were last years champions, but that was then and this is now.  Oklahoma City has been nothing short of spectacular this season, lead by 3-time NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant.  Russel Westbrook has also stepped up as the perfect right-hand man for “Durantula” with his speed and fearless shot.  James Harden comes off the Thunder’s bench with a consistent spark of defensive intensity and a smooth 3-point jumper.  As good as the Thunder have played this year their first round match-up will not be a walk in the park.  Dallas has an immense  amount of talent fronted by last years Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki and supported with great experienced role players like Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, and Jason Terry.  With their playoff experience and talented team I expect Dallas to put up a good hard fight against OKC, but unless Dirk plays as his MVP-caliber self all game, every game, then I feel they will not be able to trump the Thunder.  (Prediction Thunder win 4-3)

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Denver has some golden nuggets, but Los Angeles Land-o-Lakers will cream them

#3 Los Angeles Lakers vs. #6 Denver Nuggets

2 words…Kobe Bryant.  If you haven’t heard, this guy is pretty good.  Kobe has proven time and again that he is the most clutch player in the NBA right now and arguably ever.  He already has five rings and he is starving to match Michael Jordan’s total, by winning his sixth during the waning years of his career.  Outside of the disgusting and disgraceful Ron Artest, I have to admire the Lakers team and what they have done this year.  Pau Gasol has made the critics eat their words with his impressive play this year and although he still has some maturing to do, the Lakers Center Andrew Bynum has finally had a season the Lakers have been longing for and missing since the departure of Shaq.  The Denver Nuggets had a roller-coaster of a regular season involving injuries and players stuck in  contacts out of the country.  With all that, the Nuggets found a way to portray their excellence with solid play from everyone on their team by leading the NBA in points per game (104.1) and assists per game (24).  Denver should be able to snag a game or two from the Lakers but it won’t be enough.(Prediction Lakers win 4-2)

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Sharper clippers might cut their claws, but I see Grizzlie results

#4 Memphis Grizzlies vs. #5 Los Angeles Clippers

This will definitely be the most exciting Western Conference match-up in the first round for two reasons, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul.  Unfortunately for the Clippers, two players is not enough to win a playoff series unless you’re the Miami Heat.  Paul and Griffin do have a little help from Caron Butler and DeAndre Jordan but they just don’t have enough players to keep up in a best-of-seven series.  The future looks good for the Clips but Memphis is coming into the playoffs healthy and ready to continue what they started last season.  In a surprising first round upset of the #1 seeded Spurs last season, the Grizzlies kept their team together and even got stronger.  Mike Conley Jr and Rudy Gay have been playing out of their minds and DeAndre Jordan is going to have his hands full defending the Grizzlies center Marc Gasol who has finally emerged as the better of the two Gasol brothers.  This series will go to a game 7 with Memphis just squeezing it out.  (Prediction Grizzlies win 4-3)

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One response

  1. unnamed

    wow! super!

    October 22, 2014 at 4:54 AM

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