It's Playoff Time: Match-Ups and Predictions

Matt BreidenbachContributor IApril 14, 2008

Well folks, it's finally here. The NBA Playoffs.

With only one game left for most teams, the playoff picture is set.

Golden State lost to the Phoenix, and Denver posted a win, clinching the eighth seed in the Western Conference, and, in the East, the Indiana Pacers lost, which eliminates them from contention.

Lets start in the tight Western Conference.

With Denver clinching the eighth seed, they get the pleasure of playing Kobe and the Lakers. I really can't see an upset happening here. Denver is good but simply put, the Lakers are a lot better. Not to mention they won the season series 3-0.

My prediction: Lakers sweep.

The No. 2 vs. No. 7 series features CP3 and the New Orleans Hornets taking on Disco Dirk and the Dallas Mavericks. I think most people see New Orleans winning this hands down.

Now I hate to say this because I absolutely hate the Mavs, but they do have a fighting chance. They are an experienced team and Dirk is pretty damn clutch. Having said that, the Hornets have many weapons in their arsenal and will be hard to stop.

Prediction: Hornets take it in six.

The No. 3 vs. No. 6 series between the Suns and Spurs could possibly be the best first round series this year.

Being Canadian I am obviously pulling for the Suns and Steve Nash, but who the hell cares who I want to win?

The Spurs are a playoff team. They have won four titles in the past eight years and are very experienced. But you can't count the Suns out just because of that.

With Shaquille O'Neal and Amare Stoudamire inside, the Suns should be able to limit Tim Duncan and allow the perimeter defenders to do their job. Pheonix is not a great defensive team, but I believe that they are more well rounded than the Spurs.

Prediction: Suns win it seven.

The Utah-Houston series should be a good one too. This one is a complete toss-up for me. I think it will go the full seven games with both teams playing as well as they are. I will leave it up to all of you to pick a winner here.

Despite what may go on in the second round, you gotta believe that the Lakers will be playing the Hornets in the conference final.

These two teams are just so good and not seeing them in the West final would be a bit of a surprise. The only other team that I could see making it there would be the winner of the Spurs-Suns series.

Now for the East.

There is no way in hell that the Atlanta Hawks will beat the Boston Celtics in one game, never mind four. Congrats to Atlanta for making the playoffs, but they cannot compete with the likes of the Big Three and their supporting cast.

Prediction is clear: Celtics sweep.

The No. 2 vs No. 7 series is going to be my upset pick in the East. Call me crazy or dumb if you want, but the 76ers are going to take this one.

Despite the amount of talent that the Detroit Pistons have and the playoff experience, the Sixers match up well with the Pistons and managed to split the season series.

Prediction: Philly wins in game seven.

The Orlando Magic have a huge edge over the Raptors in the No. 3 vs No. 6 series. As much as I love Toronto and want them to win it, they are just not playing good ball right all.

CB4 is literally doing all he can to win games, but he is not getting much support from his teammates. Proof of this: The raps lost to the Pistons the other night. Bosh had 30 points and 12 rebounds or something like that. The Raptors lost the game and Detroit played their back-ups the whole time.

The only player stepping up for the Raptors is veteran center Rasho Nesterovic, who has posted double doubles like crazy this past month. They will not be able to handle Dwight Howard inside, and the outside game of Hedo Turkgolu.

Prediction: Magic win series 4-2.

In the No. 4 vs. No. 5 series, the Cleveland Cavaliers will play the Washington Wizards. I love this match-up. You've got Lebron James on one side, and Gilbert Arenas on the other.

Ultimatly, the star who shines brighter will lead his team to victory in this one. I believe that Lebron has the slight edge, and the Cavs, as a whole, have the edge as far as the inside game goes. Rebounds will be tough for the Wizards with Z and Big Ben inside for Cleveland.

Prediction: Cavs win series four games to one.

Boston will beat whoever they face in round two and so will the Cavs, setting up a great Eastern Final, that is of course, if my predictions are correct.

Back in the West, the Lakers will take the Hornets in game seven of that series and be on their way to the finals. A healthy Lakers line-up has the edge over an inexperienced Hornets squad.

And in the East, the Celtics will be done with the Cavs after five, maybe six games. They are just too much to handle.

That leaves Boston vs. Los Angeles in the NBA Finals, where I firmly believe that Boston will come out victorious. The balanced playing styles of Allen and Pierce with the powerful inside game of Garnett, combined with Rajon Rondo's playmaking and slashing ability and Sam Perkins' respectable post presence will give this Celtics franchise their first title in over 20 years.

Prediction: Celtics win series in six games.