Thursday, April 19, 2007

2007 NBA Playoffs

The NBA Playoffs are here, and frankly the title could not be more up for grabs than it is this year. Here are my thoughts on the games.

Eastern Conference

No. 1 seeded Detroit Pistons/No. 8 seeded Orlando Magic
What Will Happen: DET was 4-0 against ORL this year. DET will win this series because of having an even more balanced offense than last year (Chris Weber is a Piston) and ORL's biggest threat is Dwight Howard who puts up 17.7 ppg. That's great but against an experienced team like DET he can't do it alone.

Detroit in 5 games

No. 4 seeded Miami Heat/ No. 5 seeded Chicago Bulls

What Will Happen: This series will be enjoying. Bulls and Heat slugged it out last postseason, so no reason this will be any different. I say the champs go down in Round 1 to the Bulls because CHI is more talented. Sure Miami has Dwayne Wade and Shaq, but aside from that not as much as Chicago. The Bulls have Luol Deng, Nocioni, Ben Gordon, Kirk Hinirich. More weapons, better results.

Chicago in 7 games

No. 3 seeded Toronto Raptors/ No. 6 seeded New Jersey Nets

What Will Happen: Toronto had a storybook regular season. Coach Sam Mitchell is Coach of the Year, Chris Bosh is really turning into a force, but in the end I am going to have to side with New Jersey. Jason Kidd is year after year putting up fantastic numbers, and his wingman is Vince Carter. Carter as we all know defies gravity and is an underrated scorer.

New Jersey in 6

No. 2 seeded Cleveland Cavaliers/ No. 7 seeded Washington Wizards

What Will Happen: Great job on CLE snagging the 2nd seed at the last second. LeBron is looking to take his team even farther, and it couldn't be against a more wounded team. Both Caron Butler and Gilbert Arenas are out of the playoffs for WSH because of injuries. Cruel, cruel, fate. The Cavs will roll in this one because to say it simply, the Wiz don't have any offense. Arenas was the team's offense and now he's gone. Oh and it also helps that LeBron is a top 5 player in the league.

Cleveland in 5

Western Conference

No. 1 seeded Dallas Mavericks/No. 8 seeded Golden State Warriors

What Will Happen: Don Nelson is going against his former team with his new project, the Warriors. Warriors are the true Cinderella story considering they won 7 out of their last 8 games to clinch the franchises first playoff berth since the 1993-94 season. Enough said because Dallas has been playing basketball with a huge chip since losing to Miami in the NBA Finals. Overall, DAL has so much more playoff experience than the Warriors. And trust me, that means a lot.

Dallas in 5

No. 4 seeded Utah Jazz/ No. 5 seeded Houston Jazz

What Will Happen: Tracy McGrady is going to play an incredible series because the guy is sick and tired of hearing about how he has never advanced past the first round. Besides HOU is the hardest team to match up against. McGrady up top and Ming down low will cause trouble even for a Jazz team known to always upset the Rockets. Sure Utah has Okur and Boozer down low, but this is Ming's party.

Houston in 6

No. 3 seeded San Antonio Spurs/ No. 6 seeded Denver Nuggets

What Will Happen: The Spurs and Nuggets clashed in the playoffs about a couple of years ago. Nuggets had the Spurs a number of games but would lose it in the end. Now DEN has Allen Iverson. And an even better Carmelo Anthony. I realize the Spurs have the ever-dominant Tim Duncan, defensive specialist Bruce Bowen, and 6th Man of the Year award winner Manu Ginobilli, but I see a first round upset. Spurs are said to be a team peaking at the right time, though in turn I believe it is Denver who is peaking at the perfect time. Anthony and Iverson and starting to mesh and that scares everyone.

Denver in 7

No. 2 seeded Phoenix Suns/ No. 7 seeded Los Angeles Lakers

What Will Happen: You can only wonder if this series will be anything close to last year's seven game series. After going down 3-1, PHX rallied to win Game 31 points. This year I see it differently because 1) Amare is back for the Suns and 2) Lakers are worse than last year. LAL tripped to the finish line of the regular season. Kobe will have his typical amazing playoff games, but in the end the saying "one player does not make a team" will shine brighter than ever. Bottom line is the Suns can score. No way can the Lakers keep up with that.

Phoenix will win in 6

Divisional Round

Western Conference

No. 1 seeded Dallas Mavericks/No. 5 seeded Houston Rockets

Thoughts: By the conclusion of the Golden State series, DAL will be a smooth running, well-oiled machine. As for HOU, the team will be a little banged up following an intense series with Utah. I think Dallas will take this series because too often against Utah, McGrady and Yao started off slow. Against an inexperienced playoff team like the Jazz that will fly, but not the Mavs. McGrady will get frustrated and try to do it on his own. Overall the balanced attack of Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard, and Jason Terry will declare the victor. But HOU will make it interesting.

Dallas in 6 games

No. 2 seeded Phoenix Suns/No. 6 seeded Denver Nuggets
Thoughts: Following a big series win over the Spurs, Nuggets will be looking to continue their magical run. Phoenix will have cruised by the Lakers with little problem. PHO and DEN represent two of the top 3 teams in the NBA when it comes to putting points up on the board. Yet, when I look at PHO scoring will come a lot easier. PHO has Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire, Boris Diaw, Leandro Barbosa, and Shawn Marion. Each player is very well capable of being the spotlight player on any given night. As for DEN, Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony are superb athletes, but those two can not win it alone. Aside from them there's Marcus Camby, effective on the boards, not on offense, and J.R. Smith, nothing special as his young age. The Suns beat the Nuggets because DEN will try and run with PHO and fail...just like most teams do.

Phoenix in 6 games

Eastern Conference

No. 1 seeded Detroit Pistons/No. 5 seeded Chicago Bulls

Thoughts: The Pistons and Bulls had some epic postseason battles back when Michael Jordan and Isiah Thomas where still playing. This series looks like it too could have that magnitude of great play. DET is going to steamroll the Magic, while the Bulls will surprise many people on just how easily they rip through Miami. I will take Chicago in this series because Detroit is no longer that defensive team that won the title in 2004. They are not a team capable of beating you with there offense. Besides Chicago has more legit scorers than Detroit so Bulls win.

Chicago in 7 games

No. 2 seeded Cleveland Cavaliers/No. 6 seeded New Jersey Nets

Thoughts: The Nets always seem like a team that will wake up one night and POOF make a run to the Finals. Jason Kidd will continue to play superb, while Vince Carter will be consistent night in and night out, occasionally with a 30+ point game. Cavs are a team that I see getting better, but I still manage to give them little respect. Going against a Wizards team deeply injured I think will haunt the Cavs a bit. Nets will be in full swing and catch the Cavs sleeping a bit. But CLE will win the series because of Richard Jefferson. Jefferson is still recovering from an injury earlier in the season. Without Jefferson, Kidd and Carter will be a main focal point. That's still dangerous, though no where near the potential of a team with 3 very legit scorers. Also, Cavs Larry Hughes is starting to show he too can have the spotlight like LeBron. That's a huge plus having someone like Hughes put up 20 points on a given night with so much attention is always on King James.

Cleveland in 7 games

Conference Finals

Western Conference

No. 1 seeded Dallas Mavericks/No. 2 seeded Phoenix Suns

Thoughts: Similar to last season these two will square off in the Conference Finals, but unlike last year Amare Stoudmire will be present. PHO claims they can win a championship with there offense first mentality, yet I do not see that taking place against a more balance DAL attack. With Dallas they can run with you, or play a slow, halfcourt. Phoenix will be helped by Amare a lot, but that Dallas way of play is such a killer. PHO will get a couple W's, but again Dallas can slow the pace and that is really all that it will come down to.

Dallas in 6 games

Eastern Conference

No. 2 seeded Cleveland Cavaliers/No. 5 seeded Chicago Bulls

Thoughts: If you can remember right at the end of the regular season CLE snagged the No. 2 spot right under CHI's nose. If CLE can get to the Conference Finals it will be only the second time in the franchise's history they have advanced to this stage. The Cavs performed the same feat back in the 1991-92 season when Mark Price and Co. lost to the Bulls (surprise) in six games. Look for the same story line to unfold again. Basically, LeBron does not have anywhere near the supporting cast the Bulls do. When frustrations build for #23 he will try and take the game over himself and fail.

Chicago in 6 games

NBA Finals

No. 1 seeded Dallas Mavericks/No. 5 seeded Chicago Bulls
Thoughts: Bulls will be in the Finals for the first time since MJ won number six back in 1998. It will be pretty incredible to see Dallas make the long journey back to the championship series after having blown a 2-0 lead against Miami last year. This time though, DAL will leave a champ. Chicago is a talented team, but getting past the first round was so new to them this year. The Mavs on the other hand are use to playing this late into the season. They expect it fully. Overall, I think playing such long series will really take a role on the Bulls. In simple terms, Dallas has to win the championship to have had a good year, Chicago will have already exceeded expectations way past what they imagined. Look for Avery Johnson's team to go up 3-1 in the series, lose one, then bring home the glory in Game 6.

Dallas in 6 games

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