Let me start off by saying that the first round of the NBA playoffs was everything I had hoped for.
Granted, they are not officially over yet, (Bulls vs. Celtics is on my TV as I write this, and Miami vs. Atlanta is tomorrow) the playoffs have been something that any NBA fan should enjoy.
LeBron went off on Detroit, Kobe was too much for Utah, and Flash has been pretty tough against Atlanta so far.
This article is all my thoughts for what the second round will hold for basketball fans. Before I start, I will say that I think that Boston is going to beat Chicago and that Atlanta will beat Miami.
Now, lets get this prediction party going.
Cleveland vs. Atlanta/Miami:
LeBron James is further proving to the sports nation that he is one of the best athletes to ever pick up a ball, and he is 24 years old. In this series, I don't think anybody can stop him once again.
Josh Smith is one of my favorite players in the NBA, and there are many reasons why. One of which is that I believe Smith is capable of guarding LBJ.
There is such a thing as shutting down LeBron. It is possible. Michael Jordan was shut down by Dan Dakich. LeBron James can be shut down by Josh Smith.
I do not expect Smith to hold LeBron down every game, but I do think he can slow him down a little bit. Still, the King will prevail. He is dominant and he is uncontrollable.
From the standpoint of Miami, nobody can control LeBron. D-Wade isn't big enough in my mind. So the question is who could take him?
No matter who Cleveland plays, Atlanta or Miami, LeBron James will be the one that is the key factor. You might be reading this and say, "Well no crap, Alex." And you have every right to do so. It is that obvious to me. This series will ride or die on LeBron and he will be the deciding factor.
My Pick: Cleveland in 6
Orlando vs. Boston/Chicago
For the second year in a row, the Boston Celtics took their sweet time in the first round in order to move on to the second. In my opinion, Boston will beat Chicago and face Orlando. But, this year will be different than last year.
Dwight Howard has nobody to hold him down. Samuel Dalembert did a solid job against Howard. So much so that he even got Howard to not play in Game 6.
Kendrick Perkins is muscle, Glen Davis is weight, Mikki Moore is height, and Brian Scalabrine is Brian Scalabrine. Kevin Garnett is a solid matchup for Howard, but the Kid isn't able to step out there.
So who is going to guard Howard? The Celtics matchup well everywhere else. Rajon Rondo can take Rafer Alston, Paul Pierce can take Rashard Lewis if need be, and Ray Allen can beat Hedo Turkoglu.
The bad news for the Celtics is that Alston, Lewis, nor Turkoglu is the best man out on the court. Howard is. Even if Boston tries to double team Howard, Lewis and Turkoglu can hit a jumper like its a layup.
If Courtney Lee does make it back like he is predicted to, Boston is in trouble. The same goes for Chicago. As I have said in prior articles, C-Lee is the X-factor in these playoffs for Orlando. He proved my point in the Philadelphia series. He is a tough matchup for any team in the league.
My pick: Orlando in 7
Los Angeles vs. Houston
Houston was very impressive against a solid Portland team in round 1. They played smart, they played tough, and they played with the desire to win the game.
Los Angeles played as the better team against Utah. Nobody on that Utah team is a bad player in my mind. Not by any means. Yet the team as a whole just could not match with the talented and stacked Laker ball club.
In this series, I look at Trevor Ariza being the key factor. Ariza is so athletic that Ron Artest really may not be able to control him. I understand that Artest is arguably the best defender in the playoffs, but Ariza is younger than him, and more athletic than him.
I like Houston a lot, but it will be awfully tough to stop Kobe, Ariza, Gasol, Bynum, and Odom. Shane Battier and Yao Ming cannot do it all. They'll need help and they'll need it a lot.
My pick: Los Angeles in 5
Denver vs. Dallas
This is the most intriguing second-round matchup to me. Two teams with one superstar (Carmelo Anthony and Dirk Nowitzki) surrounded by solid mini-stars and role players.
Carmelo is thriving off of Chauncey Billups. He isn't used to a point guard getting him the ball like this. This was easily one of the best trades in the past 10 years of the NBA by the Nuggets.
I look for Carmelo and Josh Howard to both have big series. Howard is a guy who is capable of putting up 30 points a night if he really wanted to. His athleticism and ability are what makes him such a serious threat to Denver.
J.R. Smith is the same as Howard. He put up 45 in a game recently. Smith is a slash-and-dash guy who is tough to keep up with. This will cause a serious threat to the Dallas D.
Chauncey Billups is furthermore proving he is one of the best by taking down CP3 in Round 1. I think Jason Kidd is a solid point guard, but I don't think he can keep up with Billups. I look for Billups to win their matchup.
I also like Nene Hilario. Nene is a man's man down in the middle and Erick Dampier is going to have a tough time dealing with him and Kenyon Martin in the paint. Again, Denver wins the matchup.
Altogether, Denver is the better team with the better future in the playoffs.
My pick: Denver in 5
Well, you heard my picks. So give me some comments and feedback on what you think will happen. As always, God bless.