NBA Playoff Picture, Analysis, and Predictions Through the Finals

Sean StrathyContributor IApril 23, 2012

NBA Playoff Picture, Analysis, and Predictions Through the Finals

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    The NBA made a great marketing decision a few years back when they coined the phrase, "This is where Amazing Happens." Because it's true. With so much talent, whether it be superstars or teams that just click, we're about to have eight first round playoff series that are sure to get us out of our seats, no matter who our team is.

    The playoff picture isn't final. The 8th seeds for both conferences are still up for grabs. Nevertheless, let's do a full playoff picture analysis with predictions. And then you all can agree or disagree with me.

    Ready?

Bulls vs 76ers

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    Don't be fooled by the starless 76ers team. They can play ball well together. They're the essence of a team. No one stands out and no one needs to. It's about running the floor and taking advantage of their youth and speed. 

    The Bulls on the other hand have the best record in the NBA. I can't imagine a scenario in which the Bulls lose this series. That being said, they have had injuries to some key players and Derrick Rose gets knocked up every now and again. I think the 76ers have maybe one win at home in this series.

    Bulls take it in 5. 

Spurs vs. Jazz

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    The Spurs have added some youth to surround Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili over the past couple of years. Still, they are the most boring basketball team in the game to watch and have the best record in the West. Why? Because Gregg Popovich is one of the best coaches of all-time and certainly the least recognized. The man has four rings over the span of a decade with very different looking teams. He's old school and the guys they bring in for him consistently buy into his scheme. They face up in the first round with the Jazz (tentatively).

    Another team without a true superstar, the Utah Jazz slip into the playoffs led by Devin Harris and Al Jefferson, two good players in their prime. I'm excited to see how they rise to the challenge against the Spurs in the opening round. Neither one has ever really been the leader of a decent team. Can they get past Duncan and the Spurs? I doubt it. But still, I expect some close games.

    Spurs in 6.

Heat vs Knicks

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    As a Knicks fan, this is going to be painful to say, so, I'm going to get it out right at the beginning: The Heat will win in 5. Okay, it's out. Why?

    I hate Lebron James. I hate him with a passion. But he's one of the best athletes in all of professional sports. They've had a year now to get it together under Eric Spoelstra (not even sure what he does). They're going to beat the Knicks.

    Sure, Carmelo Anthony has been on a roll. With every injury that the Knicks suffer, someone has been able to step up and carry the team. But that's the thing, they go on winning streaks when someone's injured. What are they going to do when they're all healthy just in time for playoffs? I think it might get ugly. I just pray and pray and pray: GIVE ME ONE PLAYOFF VICTORY.

    Heat in 5.

Thunder vs Mavericks

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    This is a rematch from last years Western Conference Finals. The Dallas Mavericks were able to eliminate Kevin Durant and the Thunder in five games last year. Don't expect such a quick series or the same outcome this year. Kevin Durant is an alien. The man can do things that aren't humanly possible. I think this will be a dramatic series with the old talent that Dallas has and the young talent in OKC.

    Thunder in 7. 

Pacers vs Magic

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    The Indiana Pacers vs Dwight Howard's team. I mean the Orlando Magic. Well, it would have been a decent series if Howard were playing in it. However, there's no way the Magic can beat the Pacers without him.

    Congrats Pacer fans, you might get a sweep.

    Pacers in 4.

Lakers vs Nuggets

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    There's a reason the Knicks drafted Danilo Gallinari in the first round of the 2008 draft: he's good. And with Ty Larson and JaVale McGee around him, the Denver Nuggets will put up a good fight against the Lakers.

    Just when it seemed like the Lakers were getting healthy at the right time and gaining momentum going into the playoffs, Meta World Peace gives the hardest elbow shot I've ever seen on James Harden. The locker room is going to be in a state of imbalance and Metta World Peace is the source of it.

    But, Kobe is Kobe and he won't let a bunch of youngsters beat him in the first round.

    I pick Lakers in 6.

Celtics vs Hawks

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    This is a rematch from the 07-08 1st round playoffs that went to a game seven with the Celtics pulling out the victory. The Celtics beat the Lakers in the finals that year. While, I don't expect the Celtics to be winning the finals against the Lakers this year, I expect this series to look exactly the same. Even with Al Horford missing the rest of the year for the Hawks, I think they have the talent to stretch out this series to seven games. But Rajon Rondo is too good.

    Celtics in 7.

Glizzlies vs Clippers

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    This is an extremely exciting series. Both teams are relatively new to the playoff scene and they're facing each other in the first round. This makes for an intriguing first round matchup: no aging superstars, no overly-marketed loudmouths, just straight basketball. 

    The Clippers had some talent last year in Blake Griffin but went 32-50. Add Chris Paul and a bunch of other pieces and we're looking at a 40-24 team. CP3 really does make a difference.

    The Grizzlies are just stacked. They made the playoffs last year with much of the same team, beating the Spurs and then losing to the Thunder. 

    I honestly don't know who to pick and don't care who to root for. It's going to be great basketball. I have to pick someone though, so, I'm going to go with the Grizzlies just because of their playoff experience last year.

    Grizzlies in 7.

Who's Going to Win It All?

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    As much as I hate the Heat, I think this is their year. I expect another fantastic Eastern Conference finals with the Bulls and the Heat pulling it out. I just don't see who in the West is going to stop them this year. My only solace is going to be the up close shots of an emotional LeBron James. Remember how they freaked out last year when they beat the Celtics?

    In case you forgot: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rxU9s2TqDc

    Imagine how they'll freak out when they win the finals?