Because this blog originates out of the greater Seattle area, I fully expect many of our home town readers to scoff at an NBA preview post in light of the fact our beloved Sonics no longer exist, and many folks have boycotted the NBA or simply don’t care. I understand, far be it from me to tell any Seattle sports fan how to feel about the NBA. If you are sideways about the whole situation, feel free to be mad, I won’t stop you. Myself, on the other hand, still love the NBA and follow it all year. I am a basketball junkie, so I naturally gravitate to the NBA. Even though the entire Sonics situation was a massive fail on all sides (except the fans, please, don’t even begin the blame the fans for them leaving. If you do, you lose all credibility with me…), I still think the NBA game is exciting and worth talking and writing about, hence, an NBA playoff preview!Western Conference: Overall I like the Lakers to come out of the west. If Andrew Bynum can get healthy and play valuable minutes, it will help Phil Jackson balance minutes between Bynum and Gasol, who is much more effective with Bynum on the floor. There isn’t a 4 in the league that can deal with the match-up problems Gasol presents. Who can contend with LA? To my eyes, only Dallas. I love Dirk Nowitzki. He has had an amazing year, and has the best supporting cast since they lost to Miami in the Finals a few years ago. I really like Denver, Utah and Phoenix if they stand alone, but I don’t like how any of them match up with the Lakers. Dallas has size in the middle to deal with the LA bigs, and no one can guard Dirk, so I give Dallas a punchers chance verses LA, but ultimately the Lakers come out of the West.
Series by series picks:
Lakers vs. Zombie Sonics – Lakers in 5. I think the ZS will get maybe one at home in the dustbowl, but other than that the Lakers will win with ease…
Mavericks vs. Spurs – Mavericks in 7. Yeah, this one is going seven. The Spurs could make a run, but I just don’t think they have the depth the Mavs do, and ultimately Dallas with wear down the aging trio of Duncan/Ginobili/Parker.
Suns vs. Blazers – Suns in 5. Look, this is simple: Brandon Roy will not play in this series, the Blazers have no chance. I like the Suns anyway, so this one is easy. Too bad, I think Rip City could have been amazing this season if 4 of their 5 starters didn’t all suffer major injuries this season. Nate McMillian is COY.
Nuggets vs. Jazz – Jazz in 7. The absence of George Karl has been huge for Denver, they have not played well over the past month, and it doesn’t look like he’ll be back soon (maybe round 2). I like Jerry Sloan’s experience here and I really like what Utah brings. Deron Williams is a superstar, Boozer is solid down low, they have a solid roster of role players that get the job done. The Jazz struggle on the road, but if they can steal one in Denver, look for the Jazz to move on.Eastern Conference: As opposed to the West, the East is a little more wide open, even though most experts have Cleveland rolling through the playoffs. Don’t sleep on Orlando or Atlanta. I don’t like Boston out of the east for a myriad of reasons (older roster, lack of cohesion on offense, ‘Sheed slacking off on both ends of the floor, Doc Rivers’ lack of consistency in his rotation, etc…). The problem for Orlando and Atlanta is they will play in the 2nd round, beat the crap out of each other, then get (I think) a rested and refueled Cavs team in the Eastern finals. Bummer. Would have liked to see ATL or ORL draw Cleveland in the 2nd round, then get the other in the conference finals… I like Cleveland strictly for the reason above: They have a much easier draw.
The picks in the East!!
Cavaliers vs. Bulls – Cavs in 4. Yes, a sweep. I think the Cavs come out focused and determined to make this a quick and painless series. Look for Shaq to struggle to start, but LeBron will dominate. I do think Derrick Rose will play above the rim, look for him to have some amazing highlights.
Magic vs. Bobcats – Magic in 6. Whaaaaat? The Bobcats in the playoffs? Yes folks, Larry Brown worked some series magic (no pun intended) in the Queen City this year. Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace have been beasts all year long, carrying a young team. All that said, I don’t think the Cats have an answer for Dwight Howard. Look for Howard to dominate, and Carter to light it up from outside. Plus, I like Orlando’s defense slightly better that Charlotte. I think this will be a great series.
Hawks vs. Bucks – Hawks in 5. This is similar to the Suns/Blazers in the west: If the Bucks had Andrew Bogut healthy, I would be tempted to take the Bucks in a shocker, but without the big Aussie, I don’t think Milwaukee can deal with the Hawks down low. I love the Hawks talent, I think Al Horford could blow up in this series. Too much pressure on a very talented Brandon Jennings to carry the Bucks. As much as I would love to see the amazingly epic “Fear the Deer” slogan ride into the 2nd round, no chance without Bogut.
Celtics vs. Heat – Heat in 7. This is my crazy, one man army pick. My mind says take Boston, they are clearly a better team, more experience, probably better coaching. But my heart is with Flash, Dwayne Wade. This is simple: Dwayne Wade will channel his amazing playoff ride from 2006 and drop roughly 35-40 each night, maybe a 50 pointer in there somewhere, and he’ll carry Miami to the 2nd round. I know it’s nuts, but I just like the juju on this one.
So in the Finals we’ll finally get the Kobe vs. LeBron match up we’ve all wanted. I like the Cavs here. This is the year for LeBron. He has a supporting cast capable of winning, I think they have a great draw in the east, and LA will be bruised and battered heading into the Finals. Look for LeBron to carry Cleveland to victory, along with Jamison and Williams, both of whom are great x-factors. I think Mo Williams has a great playoff run. He was terrible last season in the post season, so he’ll right the ship here.
Here’s to a great playoff season!