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The question in the Western Conference is whether or not any team can knock off the three-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. The answer is "no."
In the end, though, it could be the Lakers winning their fourth Western Conference Championship in a row.
Denver did some damage in the NBA without Carmelo Anthony, but will they have enough against a lot of people’s pick to make it to the Western Conference Finals? I can’t see Denver beating Oklahoma City but strange things happen.
No. 4 vs. No. 5 with OKC having the home court advantage—the second best matchup in the first round in the West.
Prediction: OKC will win the series 4-3.
Blazers-Mavs is the best matchup in the first round, in my eyes. It was a series the Mavericks wanted to avoid. The Lakers also wanted to avoid the Blazers in the first round—and for good reason.
With the addition of Gerald Wallace, Portland is a very dangerous team in the Western Conference. This year—Wallace’s first in the Great Northwest—the Blazers will run out of time to gel.
They will, however, have enough time to run the Mavericks off the court.
Prediction: Portland will upset Dallas, 4-3.
Now the fun starts for the Los Angeles Lakers. They’re set to defend their two-time championship titles by facing the upstart New Orleans Hornets. While head coach Monte Williams will have them prepared, they don’t have enough to hang with the Lakers this year.
Prediction: Get ‘em next season New Orleans. Lakers will win 4-1.
Tony Allen and Zach Randolph are two of the toughest players in the NBA and teams take notice. The Spurs are one of the softest—and teams take notice.
The Spurs finished as the No. 1 three-point shooting team in the NBA, but where’s the beef inside? Tony Parker is their best scorer in the lane these days.
Will Timmy have enough to lead the Spurs out of the first round? Even though the Spurs sputtered after a blazing start and lost the No. 1 overall seed to Chicago, I suspect he will.
Prediction: The Grizz miss Rudy Gay, and San Antonio will take it in seven.
The Eastern Conference is loaded with improved teams and recent immigrant star players from the Western Conference. Carmelo, Amare and Chauncey—to name a few—are all on the same team.
This should make for improved parity between the two conferences. The Celtics are the defending conference champions and despite losing Kendrick Perkins in a trade are still tough.
The Bulls will be out to deliver black roses.
Indiana is back in the playoffs for the first time since the Reggie Miller era, but they’ll be making a quick exit. Chicago snatched the No. 1 overall seed from the shocked Spurs on the last day of the season.
For this reason, point guard Derrick Rose is likely a lock for the MVP.
Prediction: The Bulls will win it in six.
New York went on a hot streak down the stretch, but they were lukewarm. The winning streak came after a losing streak and cancels out. The Knicks now hope to cancel the Celtics season.
To answer my own question, yes, Ainge traded Big Perk in time for the Knicks to believe they have a legitimate chance to dethrone the defending Eastern Conference champions from Boston.
Prediction: Stoudamire will be too much for the Celtics and the Knicks will feed off him and upset the Boston Celtics, 4-3
The Miami Heat are focused on making a move up the Eastern Conference and garner their first of not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven…you get the idea…titles.
LeBron is out to make good on his laughable prediction. Who is laughing now? Not the Philadelphia 76ers. The Bulls are the only team laughing at Miami over there in the conference.
Prediction: The Heat are about to make a move, so Philly has to 86.
The Hawks could possibly pray for a center in the upcoming NBA draft, but for now they need to find the closest equivalent to kryptonite they can. Otherwise, Howard could average a triple-double in this series.
Prediction: It’ll go quickly and quietly for the Hawks as the Magic will have mercy on them and put them out of their misery.