2011 NBA Playoff and Award Predictions
Can anyone wait for the NBA playoffs to get started? WOW.
The "Big Three" in South Beach begin their quest to get LeBron James and Chris Bosh their first championship.
The aging San Antonio Spurs have the best record in the league.
The glamorous New York Knicks have Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and a veteran point guard that always steps up come playoff time in Chauncey Billups.
The Orlando Magic try to work the magic in June with Dwight Howard and Company.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have the best scorer in the league.
The Dallas Mavericks are always in contention.
The Chicago Bulls have the MVP candidate at point guard.
And of course, the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers are always there to spoil everybody's fun.
NBA MVP: Derrick Rose
D-Rose has lead Chicago past the Miami Heat three times already this year. That speaks volumes: one superstar beating three superstars...three times.
Sure, he has had some help from Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng—but who would've expected Rose to play this great this year?
LeBron has put up his usual staggering numbers, but you cannot give the Most Valuable Player award to a guy who has the second-best shooting guard in the league and a top 30 overall player at power forward.
Kobe Bryant has been making a run at the MVP award, digging the Lakers out of the hole that was their road trip before the All-Star break. But nothing tops Rose's amazing season this year.
When Michael Jordan says give it to him, give it to him.
1. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
2. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
3. LeBron James, Miami Heat
4. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
5. Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
NBA Rookie of the Year
Because of his injury last year, Blake Griffin qualifies as a rookie this year. Obviously, it goes to the Blake Show—hands down.
The guy has brought life back to the Los Angeles Clippers' fanbase, throwing down tomahawk slams night in and night out on everything that stands in his way. He won the dunk contest and he participated in the All-Star Game.
I don't want to hear any John Wall supporters try to debate this. There's a 100 percent chance that this award goes to Griffin.
1. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
2. John Wall, Washington Wizards
3. DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings
4. Evan Turner, Philadelphia 76ers
5. Landry Fields, New York Knicks
All-NBA First, Second and Third Teams
All-NBA First team
All-NBA Second Team
All-NBA Third Team
Coach of the Year
You could also give this award to coach Gregg Popovich down in San Antonio. But again, the Bulls outplaying the Heat three times and standing as the No. 2 seed in the East is incredible.
I expected them to be a No. 4 seed at the most going into the year. But beating out the Heat and Magic? Didn't see that coming. Not only that, but the Bulls are a legit contender to win it all.
Tom Thibodeau is my Coach of the Year. Good to see the Bulls back on track.
NBA Playoffs First Round: Eastern Conference
No. 1 Boston Celtics Over No. 8 Indiana Pacers in 5 Games
I've never hated the Pacers, but no upset happening here. Boston has too much depth and talent to lose to Indiana. They'll get it done quickly.
No. 4 Orlando Magic Over No. 5 Atlanta Hawks in 6 Games
Fun series to watch. The Hawks are a scary sleeper. They've got Josh Smith's freak athleticism, Joe Johnson's jumper and Al Horford's big body banging around down in the paint. Granted, other teams sound a lot more scary—but Atlanta is no pretender.
That being said, Dwight Howard will pull through and be the difference-maker. Great series, but the Magic finish off the Hawks in six games. Too much star power in Orlando to lose in the first round.
No. 3 Miami Heat Over No. 6 New York Knicks in 7 Games
HOLY COW. Best first-round series I've seen in the NBA in my lifetime. Star power flowing all across the court. Wouldn't be shocked to see the Knicks pull of the upset, either.
Billups is the X-Factor for the Knicks, a veteran point guard with a ring. But LeBron and Wade will be just too much. Seven-game series though; I'd be shocked if it wasn't.
No. 2 Chicago Bulls Over No. 7 Philadelphia 76ers in 4 Games
D-Rose and company sweep Philly in four games. I respect what Doug Collins has done with the Sixers this year, but that won't be enough to stop the Bulls from making a run at the Finals.
NBA Playoffs First Round: Western Conference
No. 1 San Antonio Spurs Over No. 8 Memphis Grizzlies in 6 Games
The Spurs are old and they're going to be running on fumes eventually, thus giving the young Grizzlies a chance to make it interesting. The Spurs will have enough to fend off Memphis, but will they have enough to make it past the next round?
No. 4 Oklahoma City Thunder Over No. 5 Denver Nuggets in 5 Games
The Melo-less Nuggets have been impressive thus far, but it won't be enough to get them out of the first round. A pure scorer in Durant and an athletic guard in Westbrook will be too much for the Nuggets too handle. It was a good run....
No. 3 Los Angeles Lakers Over No. 6 Portland Trail Blazers in 6 Games
The Lakers are the best team in the league, in my opinion. The Blazers will make it interesting—like the Thunder made it interesting last year—but the Lakers will still come out of the first round.
No. 2 Dallas Mavericks Over No. 7 New Orleans Hornets in 5 Games
Dallas will make it to the second round this year—I promise. Chris Paul will get the Hornets to win a game, but that's it. The Mavs move on to the second round for a series with the Lakers. Oh, joy.
NBA Playoffs 2nd Round: Eastern Conference
No. 1 Boston Celtics Over No. 4 Orlando Magic in 6 Games
Another glorious Celtics/Magic rivalry. Two teams with two great coaches. Boston has just a little bit more depth than Orlando, so I'm giving the edge to the Celtics. Could go either way.
This is the last year Boston will beat Orlando in a series for a while. Boston is old and this is their last chance at another title for a few years—maybe a decade.
No. 2 Chicago Bulls Over No. 3 Miami Heat in 7 Games
Another tough series for Miami. This time, they don't come out on top. D-Rose makes his clear mark on the league that he is arguably the best player in the league by slaying the three-headed monster.
Joakim Noah will also play a big role in this series. Bosh will get swallowed up by Noah and Boozer, forcing LeBron and Flash to become a two-man show. The Bulls prevail. A Christmas colored Eastern Conference Finals this summer.
NBA Playoffs 2nd Round: Western Conference
No. 4 Oklahoma City Thunder Over No. 1 San Antonio Spurs in 7 Games
Youth prevails. The engine is dead and the age catches up to the Spurs. It will be a long and grinding series. In this case, the youth outdoes the experience. Kendrick Perkins really helps out the Thunder in this series. On to the Western Conference Finals against...
No. 3 Los Angeles Lakers Over No. 2 Dallas Mavericks in 6 Games
Kobe is going after this three-peat hard. But not just Kobe; I think Pau Gasol steps up BIG TIME in this series, gaining momentum going into the Western Conference Finals.
Experience is also key. The Mavericks have struggled in the playoffs since their last trip to the NBA Finals, and the Lakers have excelled over the past three years in the playoffs, getting to the Finals three-straight times.
Eastern Conference Finals
No. 2 Chicago Bulls Over No. 1 Boston Celtics in 7 Games
One of the best series we will ever see in our lifetimes.
"The Big Three" in Boston vs. the now-proven Rose and Boozer. These teams will trade blows until the final game, where D-Rose will again step up huge and prove that he is arguably the best player behind Kobe and LeBron.
Trading Perkins will haunt the Celtics in this series. D-Rose will play great, but Boozer and Noah will own the paint for four out of the seven games, making the difference.
Western Conference Finals
No. 2 Los Angeles Lakers Over No. 4 Oklahoma City Thunder in 7 Games
Another great series across the way in the Western Conference. Again, the upstarts vs. the legends; the present (Kobe) vs. the future (Durant).
A few things go each way for both teams. Westbrook's speed makes him a plus against Derek Fisher. Perkins banging around in the paint could halt the dominance of Gasol and Andrew Bynum.
But on the other hand, Phil Jackson vs. Scott Brooks is no contest, Ron Artest will keep down Durant's scoring totals and the Mamba's refusal to lose will be too much.
The Lakers are back in the Finals, setting up for the three-peat and their fourth-straight Finals appearance.
NBA Finals Prediction
Los Angeles Lakers Over the Chicago Bulls in 7 Games
Before I make any opinion, let me just say: What a series!
Noah vs. Bynum, Boozer vs. Gasol, Artest vs. Deng, flip-flop the guards and you have Kobe against my predicted MVP in Rose.
Game 1: Statement game for Kobe and the Lakers. L.A. wins by about 10, but not a blowout. Phil Jackson has never lost a playoff series after winning Game 1.
Game 2: D-Rose bounces back and has a phenomenal game. Bulls blow out L.A. by 15-20 points. Not even a close game. Kobe shoots the heck out of the ball until Phil pulls him when the game is obviously lost. Series headed back to L.A., 1-1.
Game 3: Bulls win a close one in L.A. Lakers let it slip away. Bulls win by two-to-four points. Kobe plays poorly, despite scoring around 20 points. Pau and Bynum keep the Lakers in it, but it's not enough. Bulls 2, Lakers 1.
Game 4: Lakers blowout. Everyone in gold and purple shows up to play. Everyone plays well, including the bench. Lakers win by 15 or so. Almost a complete reversal of Game 2. Series tied at two games apiece.
Game 5: Last game in L.A. Gotta make it count. LA wins a close one. Kobe closes the game as he usually does in playoff situations. Lakers win by four-to-six points. Lakers up, 3-2.
Game 6: Do or die for the Bulls. D-Rose plays like a man possessed, dropping a triple-double and scoring 30-40 points. Bulls win by 10 to stay alive. Momentum: Bulls. On to Game 7.
Game 7: Rose plays well to completely solidify that he is for real. But Kobe and the Lakers one-up him and win the NBA Championship by six-to-eight points. The three-peat is true and Kobe has his six rings.
NBA Finals MVP
Who else would it be?
Kobe leads the Lakers to another championship, as well as picking up his third Finals MVP trophy. Kobe averages around 22 points in the series and heads out of MJ's house with his own six rings.
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