Implied Dissent

Saturday, April 16, 2011

NBA Playoffs

Alright, time for the NBA playoffs! It looks like it's going to be a great one this year, especially from Round 2 on. I'm going to give picks for all 4 rounds now, but plan to reevaluate in between each round as well.

Round 1
Eastern Conference
#1 Bulls against #8 Pacers. Pretty simple really. The Bulls are really good, and the Pacers are the worst team to make the post-season. Only concerns with the Bulls are their lack of extensive playoff experience, and that one of their strengths (the bench) is less important in the playoffs. Still, Bulls will win all games in Chicago this series, and games in Indy figure to be toss ups. So, Bulls 4-1.
#2 Heat against #7 76ers. For all the drama, the Heat are really good. In some ways better built for the playoffs. The 76ers definitely got a lot better as the season went along, but they're still just somewhat above average. I wouldn't be surprised with a sweep, but the 76ers should be able to get one at home. Heat 4-1.
#3 Celtics against #6 Knicks. Not completely objective here, but I think my Celtics biases more or less offset. Still concerned about what's going on at center, as not confident that Shaq will be healthy and effective, don't trust Jermaine, and Nenad is fine only if he's getting short minutes. Even so, the Celtics have a better team, better coaching, and lot more experience together. I sense a pattern here. Celtics 4-1.
#4 Magic against #5 Hawks. Apparently there's some talk that the Hawks could pull off an upset. Technically, yes, as there's always a chance. However, the Magic (though flawed) are much better, and I think the basis for thinking it could happen is a little bit of an illusion (Jason Collins guarding Dwight Howard so well). If Collins does that and the Hawks guard the 3 well, then they have a good chance, but I don't really buy it. Magic 4-1.
Western Conference
#1 Spurs against #8 Grizzlies. The Grizzlies were openly hoping to play the Spurs. Good call, guys. You're only two hopes were for a significant injury, or for the Spurs to not take you seriously. You still have the injury hope, but no way the Spurs don't bring it. Spurs 4-0.
#2 Lakers against #7 Hornets. The Hornets have one huge advantage, Chris Paul versus Derek Fisher. In my opinion, Paul is still by far the best point guard around (sorry DRose, you're excellent, but you're no CP3). Unfortunately, that's about it. I hope the Hornets can pull it off, but it seems likely the Lakers big men will control these games. Lakers 4-1.
#3 Mavericks against #6 Trail Blazers. Will probably be the second best Round 1 series. Dallas has been a little bit worse since losing Caron Butler, and Portland has been better since acquiring Gerald Wallace. If Portland's multiple guys that they'll send Dirk's way can, either stop or nearly stop him, they'll win. Or if Brandon Roy can be close to his old self (not likely). I think it's going the distance. Mavericks 4-3.
#4 Thunder against #5 Nuggets. Likely to be the best series in Round 1. The Nuggets have a deep, athletic, young, uptempo, high-scoring team. The Thunder have one of the league's very best players, and have been playing very very well since trading for Perkins (argghhh). I could see the Nuggets falling apart, but we also could see them winning games 120-105. Thunder 4-3.

Round 2: Conference Semi-Finals
Eastern Conference
#1 Bulls against #4 Magic. Don't discount the Magic's chances just yet. Bulls 4-3.
#2 Heat against #3 Celtics. What happens at center could change my mind. Heat 4-3.
Western Conference
#1 Spurs against #4 Thunder. My first upset. Young legs beat wily vets. Thunder 4-2.
#2 Lakers against #3 Mavericks. The Lakers are just better. Lakers 4-1.

Round 3: Conference Finals
Eastern Conference
#1 Bulls against #2 Heat. Tough call. We'll learn a lot more about both clubs before we reach this point. Leaning towards the Heat. Heat 4-2.
Western Conference
#2 Lakers against #4 Thunder. The Thunder have been playing much better recently, and will probably be a little stronger at this point. Thunder 4-2.

NBA Finals
Heat against Thunder. The Thunder are a more balanced team, and will have better karma working for them (cough, refs). Thunder 4-2.

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