The NBA Playoffs are here. They may not be as tough as the NHL's Stanley Cup Playoffs, but don't tell that to Steve Nash who got hip-checked by Robert Horry last year, or Kobe who got clotheslined not too long ago by Raja Bell.
The NBA Playoffs are tough.
Here are my first round predictions for the Eastern Conference:
(1) Boston vs. (8) Atlanta: Boston Wins Series 4-0
In what will be the first playoff appearance since the 1998-1999 season, the Atlanta Hawks get drawn with the No. 1 seed Celtics.
I don't see Atlanta's stay in the playoffs being a long one, as Boston is too strong defensively and too deep to let Atlanta hang anywhere around them.
The one advantage Atlanta has is at point guard. Mike Bibby, who I feel is one of the most underrated point guards in the NBA, has the edge over Rondo and Cassell.
KG, Pierce, and Allen prove to be too much for Atlanta to handle as Boston moves on relatively easily in four games.
(2) Detroit vs. (7) Philadelphia: Detroit Wins Series 4-1
This is another series that I don't see being very close in four out of the five games.
I do see Philly getting at least one win at home in this series because of players like Andre Iguodala.
76'ers coach Maurice Cheeks will have his relatively young team ready for the playoffs, but Detroit and their veterans over-match the young 76'ers.
Detroit, much like Boston, has too many weapons and will advance even though they will lose a game.
Billups, Hamilton, and the rest of the gang are ready to make that NBA Finals push once again. Pistons advance in five games.
(3) Orlando vs. (6) Toronto: Orlando Wins Series 4-2
In what will be a very competitive series, especially between Chris Bosh and Dwight Howard, this one will come down to who can get that big win on the road when it matters.
I see Orlando coming up big when it matters most and winning Game 6 in Toronto to clinch the series.
Dwight Howard is a monster and I think he will wear down Chris Bosh because of how physical he can actually get.
Orlando advances in six games.
(4) Cleveland vs. (5) Washington: Cleveland Wins Series 4-2
For another year we get to see Cleveland and Washington paired up in the first round. This is becoming a nice playoff rivalry, even though Cleveland has gotten the upper-hand on Washington.
Recent comments by Charles Barkley got the Wizards riled up, so we'll see how hard they come out for Game 1.
LeBron James is coming off a season where he led the NBA in scoring at 30 PPG. I think he is going to have to get 30-35 a game in this series for Cleveland to advance.
Washington is stacked with Butler and Jamison and Arenas being back, but I see LeBron being too much for them to handle, especially in the later stages of games where LeBron always seems to shine.
I see Cleveland advancing in six games. Their prize for advancing will be to meet up with the No. 1 seed Boston Celtics.
(1) Boston 4-0
(2) Detroit 4-1
(3) Orland0 4-2
(4) Cleveland 4-2