The next two months will bring some of the most intense moments and clutch play on the basketball court that we have seen in a long time. Let’s preview some of the action that is in store for us.
The Lakers will win the West (barring any setbacks) but the teams that fall behind them will not fare much worse.
Having home court is big, but the difference between the No. 1 seed and the No. 8 seed is eight games, as opposed to the 27 games in the Eastern Conference.
What does that mean? No blow outs this year in a league in which the first round is usually a cake walk for the No. 1 seed.
It was the Denver Nuggets that once upset a No. 1 seed in the first round, and right now it looks like it will be the Nuggets again in that eighth seed.
Predicting the West is a very tough task.
Some of the most intriguing matchups include Kobe vs. Iverson in a 2001 NBA Finals Rematch.
This time, Iverson brings his boys Carmelo, Martin, and Ed Najera off the bench. Kobe's squad is no slouch either. He may have a healthy Andrew Bynum along with Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom.
The Lakers look like they could be the cream of the playoff crop, but will have no walk in the park against the Denver Nuggets.
The Houston Rockets are a surprise team that somehow started playing better once Yao Ming was injured.
We could have seen an amazing matchup between Shaq and Yao Ming, but now Shaq will have to go up against Mr. Elbows himself, Dikembe Mutombo. Shaq never has it easy when it comes to Deke. Again, this is a rematch of the 2001 NBA finals
Prediction time. The Lakers over the Nuggets in seven. The Suns over the Rockets in six. The Spurs over the Jazz in six. The Hornets over the Mavs in six.
The East is a totally different beast. The Boston Celtics have run away with it, and are the best team hands down.
The Pistons are the only steady constant over the past five years. They bring more experience than any other team, which is scary—but not as scary as facing a LeBron James in playoff mode.
Also very scary is an Orlando Magic team that can shoot outside and score inside with a young Dwight Howard. It is pick-your-poison in the East, and the lower seeds will be poisoned early.
The top seeds will sweep the first round, even though I feel that Washington is playing better with Gilbert back. The Sixers may have peaked early, and may not be ready to make as much noise as many thought they would.
Boston, Detroit, Orlando, and Cleveland will all win in six or less.
The Conference Finals
Out in the West, The Lakers will be upset by San Antonio and will face off against a young and exciting New Orleans Hornets team.
The Hornets are very exciting and play in a style totally different from San Antonio. This series will be decided by whomever controls the tempo. I think that San Antonio will be able to win the West as long as Manu Ginobli comes back healthy.
Moving onto the Finals Round in the East, I see Boston facing off against the Orlando Magic.
This matchup is going to be very complex. If the Magic can shoot, they can win this series. I don't see relying on the outside shot as a way to win the East, and with all those stars, the Celtics will win and face off against the Spurs.
Many would like to see the Lakers and Celtics face off, with all the history behind those two teams.
Phoenix is very choppy, the Lakers are still young, the Pistons are too old, and the Magic have a lot to learn. But the newly built Celtics and Good Ol’ San Antonio Spurs will both make this year’s finals one of the most exciting matchups in recent history.
Stay tuned for my playoff team previews and finals picks once the seedings are official.