Finally, my favorite time of the year has come. It's mid-April and the NBA playoffs are about to begin.
I'm going to analyze each of the first-round matchups and come to a decision as to who I feel will win.
Of course, there will be some who agree and some who disagree, but I'm open to all opinions.
Lets start with the West...
No. 1 Lakers vs. No. 8 Jazz
Right off the bat, most people are going to think Lakers, mainly because of Kobe Bryant and the third-best record in Laker history they set this year...but let's look a little deeper into this matchup.
Utah has Carlos Boozer, who is a force to be reckoned with down low, which compliments the inside/outside game of center Mehmet Okur. That right there is a pretty decent front-court.
With Lakers' center Andrew Bynum very injury prone, I really feel him and Pau are going to have to work to stop the Boozer-Okur tandem.
We all know who Deron Williams is, and we're well aware of what he can do, so I'm not even going to say anything about him except for the fact no Laker point guard can stop him.
Andrei Kirilenko, meanwhile, is a lanky defensive machine who is going to be able to contain Lamar Odom. Additionally, Ronnie Brewer, Morris Almond, and Paul Millsap are solid players who are going to have to play big for this upset.
I'm not going to say the Lakers are going to lose because that would just be absurd. All I'm saying is the Lakers better be on top of their game and not slip up at home.
Prediction: Lakers will take this series in six games.
No. 2 Nuggets vs. No. 7 Hornets
The Nuggets finally made a good transaction by sending Allen Iverson to the Pistons and receiving the pass-first point-guard, Chauncey Billups. His style of play is what they needed in order to grab the second seed in a highly competitive Western conference.
Yes, this is a No. 2 vs. No. 7, so really, it suppose to be a "gimme" for the Nuggets, but the Hornets last season were the No. 2 seed after winning almost 60 games.
Of course, they had their ups and downs this season, but I really smell an upset here. Chris Paul is hungry, and he will make sure the Hornets win this series, but all of the Hornets role players will need to step up (i.e. Peja Stojakovic, James Posey, and Morris Peterson).
David West will get his 20 points and 10 rebounds a game, Tyson Chandler will get his 15 ppg and 10 rpg, and Paul will get his 25 ppg and 12 apg, but its key that role players step up, especially defensively.
The Nuggets have a fast-paced offense and will run you up and down the court, so the Hornets need to control the tempo of the game.
Prediction: I'm going to say the Hornets will take this in seven.
No. 3 Spurs vs. No. 6 Mavs
Here's a very interesting match-up. We have two offensive forces who both have a lot of depth.
The Spurs have been a dynasty over the last 10 years and are a terrific team. A reason for this is because of the play of the Argentinian shooting guard, Manu Ginobili. Unfortunately, he will miss the playoffs due to an injury, and that is why the Spurs will lose in the first round.
I really cannot see the Spurs overcoming this. Manu brings everything to the table—he is a go-to guy and is great in the clutch.
They will miss his 20-25 points he brings to the table and just the attention he draws.
Dirk Nowitzki will step up, as will my boy Jason Terry.
I'm sorry Spurs fans...without Manu, I cannot see a victory.
Prediction: Mavs will take this in five.
No. 4 Blazers vs. No. Rockets
This is going to be the most interesting first-round match-up in the playoffs. You got the super young Blazers and the injury-riddled Rockets.
I feel that, once the Rockets can get Yao, McGrady, and Artest healthy for an entire season, they will make a playoff run.
You know the McGrady I'm talking about...the T-Mac that was good for 40 points on any given night, and the same guy who had 13 points in 45 seconds.
Yao is a great player, and he will someday win a championship, but not this year.
The Blazers are quick and they will run down you're throat. Yes, they are inexperienced but they've proven that their inexperience doesn't really show, having made the playoffs as the fourth-best team in the Western Conference.
Sorry Texas...your only shot is the Mavs this year. Blazers in four.
To the East...
No. 1 Cavaliers vs No. 8 Pistons
Here we see LeBron James facing the Pistons. The Pistons are probably the last team LeBron wanted to see in the first round. They are very experienced and they know what it takes to win.
Not in this case though, as Iverson hasn't done anything in the playoffs since he took the 76ers to the NBA Finals. Iverson is still complaining about minutes; Rasheed is great, but he's washed up; Rip is Rip and he will do his thing; Tayshaun Prince is my boy and he'll no doubt tear it up.
The Cavaliers better not mess around though.
Prediction: Cavs in 5.
No. 2 Celtics vs. No. 7 Bulls
Oh the Bulls! They have no chance against the Celtics, I'm sorry to say. They are a good team, but they're best player is a rookie. They have no center and barely any depth.
The Celtics are the reigning champs, and they will win this series with ease.
Nobody is going to be able to contain Garnett. Yes, he's injured, but he will be more than ready for the playoffs...After all, he's "the Big Ticket".
Name a player on the Bulls who can guard "The Truth".....Luol Deng? John Salmons?
Give me a break! Ray Allen is going to shoot the lights out because he's Ray Ray, and Rajon Rondo will do a nice job guarding Rose.
Rose will average 18 ppg and 8 apg and have decent first-round numbers, but the Bulls don't stand a chance.
Prediction: Celtics will sweep the series.
No. 3 Magic vs. No. 6 Sixers
Lets just say I'm happy Toronto won the other night so my Heat didn't have to face the Magic in the first round.
I dare somebody to say Samuel Dalembert can guard Dwight Howard, and to say this series will be remotely close.
The 76ers made the playoffs, so they should call it a successful season, but they need a too many things to be successful in the post-season.
You need a dominant center to win a championship and you also need a superstar. Not necessarily a "superstar", but somebody who can perform in the clutch and that can get a basket when needed. The Sixers have neither.
Prediction: The Magic will win this in 4.
No. 4 Hawks vs. No. 5 Heat
I promise, readers, this is not bias at all. The Heat has been my favorite team since I was able to say the word "basketball", so let's just say I came out of the womb with a Ronny Seikaly jersey on.
Anyway, the Miami Heat has a lot left to prove this season. Dwyane Wade wants to prove he still is very dominant after coming off that injury, even though he practically seemingly proved it during the regular season, leading the NBA in scoring at 30 ppg.
Really though, the Hawks are a good team and took the top-seeded Celtics to seven games last season, but things are different this year.
For one, the Celtics didn't have Dwyane Wade.
Joking aside, this will be a very good series. Both teams like to run the fast break, and both teams aren't very big down low.
Wade will be the dominant force he always is and Michael Beasley, Jermaine O'Neal, and Mario Chalmers will play like monsters.
Prediction: Sorry Atlanta...my Heat are taking it in six.
Those are my predictions, but I want to hear your thoughts, so comment and let me know what the deal is.
Until next time...
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