NBA Playoffs 2012: Updated Predictions on Which Teams Will Make NBA Finals
With the first round of the 2012 NBA playoffs nearly in the books, NBA fans have not only been treated to some fantastic playoff basketball, but there have been plenty of storylines to go along with it.
We've seen injuries to superstars such as Chicago's Derrick Rose; Boston's Rajon Rondo was suspended for a game; the Lakers' Andrew Bynum has been a disappearing act and there's been much, much more.
As for the teams involved, a No. 8 seed in Philadelphia may pull a series upset; the Oklahoma City Thunder swept the defending champions; LeBron James and the Miami Heat look dominant and so on.
Have there ever been more storylines and drama in the first round of the playoffs?
What has happened though is the road to the NBA Finals has taken a few twists and turns along the way. With that being said, here's a look at who should now end up playing for the NBA championship.
With LeBron James still in search of his first ring, the path sure cleared up nicely for him. I won't go as far as to say it's an easy road, but it's sure close to that.
Indiana will give Miami a battle in the second round, but ultimately the Heat are the better team and should move onto the Eastern Conference Finals.
If it comes down to Boston and Philadelphia in the other final, the Celtics will have a tough test on their hands, but ultimately should be victorious. That sets up a Miami vs. Boston showdown with the winner heading to the NBA Finals.
This won't be that easy for the Heat as Rajon Rondo and the Celtics owned Miami in the month of April, winning two games by a combined 31 points.
Would I be surprised if Boston found a way to defeat the Heat in a seven-game series? Not at all. But the Heat have the look of a team on a mission and LeBron is playing with a chip on his shoulder so that's bad news for the Celtics. Ultimately the Heat will come out of the east and will do so without having to run into Chicago.
Eastern Conference Champion: Miami Heat
Now the Western Conference is way more complicated than the east. It looks as if the top four seeds will advance to the second round and all four are talented enough to run through the rest of the postseason.
The favorites are the San Antonio Spurs and I like their chances against either the Los Angeles Clippers or Memphis Grizzlies. San Antonio breezed through Utah in the first round and we could see a fantastic point guard matchup between Chris Paul and Tony Parker.
While that would be great to watch, the depth and unselfishness of the Spurs will carry them onto the conference finals.
The second round battle between the Oklahoma City Thunder and potentially the Los Angeles Lakers will be different. It will be a war and there will be bad blood dating back to the cheap shot of an elbow that Metta World Peace threw at James Harden.
This is going to be a battle and could go seven games, but Kevin Durant and company will deny Kobe Bryant his sixth ring.
That will set up a fantastic Western Conference Finals matchup between the Spurs and the Thunder.
Either team can win this and it could go the distance, but in the end the depth and unselfishness of the Spurs will win out.
These guys put on a clinic almost every night on how to play team basketball. Also don't discount the fact that San Antonio passed Oklahoma City late in the season for the No. 1 seed. If Game 7 were to be in Oklahoma City then I would like the Thunder here, but the Spurs are now 30-5 at home this year.
I like their chances playing at home.
Western Conference Champion: San Antonio Spurs
So if things come down to Miami vs. San Antonio for the NBA championship, who do you like and in how many games?
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