Top Five Storylines For The NBA Playoffs

Yama HazheerCorrespondent IIApril 18, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 19:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers walks next to LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during a break from the game at Staples Center on January 19, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

5. Rose emerging as a top point guard

As you may have seen in the first game between the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls, rookie Derrick Rose went insane. Not only did he lead the Bulls to an upset of the Celtics, but he tied for the highest point total for a rookie in his first-ever playoff game with 36 points. Not even Michael Jordan had a performance quite like Rose did.

Just like during the playoffs from two years ago when Deron Williams emerged as a top point guard in the league, expect Rose to do that at an even earlier age this season, as he continues to tear it up and emerge as one of the better point guards in the NBA.


4. Pistons collapse marks the end of their era

The Detroit Pistons era is officially over. Well, maybe it was over when they traded for a cancer in Allen Iverson. The Pistons have not been the same since they traded away Chauncey Billups for Iverson, and it looks like their time as one of the best Eastern Conference teams is over.

Rasheed Wallace, Tayshaun Prince, and Richard Hamilton are all getting older and will start to decline soon. They have young talent in Rodney Stuckey, but that will not be enough. Detroit has lost depth and their team chemistry is at a low. They might be back if they land a big star player with Iverson's expiring contract, but don't count on it.


3. Portland going from pretender to contender

The Portland Trail Blazers are the second-youngest team in the league and are already a top five team in the Western Conference. Brandon Roy is becoming an amazing player, LaMarcus Aldridge is a great second option, the bench is deep, and they are difficult to beat at the Rose Garden.

Look for the Blazers to defeat the Houston Rockets and give the Los Angeles Lakers a tough time in the second round of the playoffs, possibly a seven-game series between the two. After this season, you'll be able to believe that the Blazers can become a powerhouse and a dangerous team to face for years to come.

2. Celtics without The Big Ticket
It looks like the Boston Celtics will have to settle for the "Ticket Stub" (Glen Davis) instead of the "Big Ticket" in Kevin Garnett, who is doubtful to play in the postseason. Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, and Ray Allen will have have to pick up the slack for the missing All-Star forward.

But who will bring the defensive intensity that Garnett brought to the club? It'll be interesting to see how far the Celtics can make it without the player many call their MVP.

1. The King vs. Black Mamba
What you were all waiting for since the start of the season? An NBA Finals matchup between the two best players in the league: LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. The two best players in the world along with their teams, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Lakers, should be one hell of a series.

The two best players in the league along with the two best teams in the league. I called this finals match-up before the start of the season and I'm sticking with it. LeBron versus Kobe has all the makings of a classic NBA Finals.

Expect the loser of this series to come out next season on a roll. I'm predicting the Lakers win in six games, but you never know when you have the King on the other side.