NBA Playoffs: Round Two Previews and Predictions
It's the best time of the year for a sports fan, and the NBA playoffs are in full swing.
The Memphis Grizzlies recently pulled off a huge upset, knocking off the number one seeded San Antonio Spurs in 6 games, and this indicates the start of the second round of the NBA playoffs.
The second round is where things are going to get interesting, and where the boys are separated from men.
We have a lot of fantastic matchups coming up, so buckle up because it's going to be a bumpy ride.
#8 Memphis Grizzlies @ #4 Oklahoma City Thunder
The Grizzlies pulled off their first playoff series victory ever against the banged up Spurs team. Many people are now saying that the Grizzlies are a threat, but in reality the Spurs team was struggling, in rough shape, and were really the perfect upset candidates.
The Thunder beat the Denver Nuggets in 5 games, but there were certainly some questionable calls in favor of the Thunder in that series. Regardless, OKC was the better team and deserved to advance.
This should be an entertaining series, but we'll see if Memphis can really prove that they deserved to advance.
For the Grizzlies, they will need Zach Randolph to continue to be inhuman, and will need Tony Allen and Shane Battier to lock up Kevin Durant. Also, Mike Conley cannot allow all-star Russell Westbrook to beat him too often, otherwise this will create too many problems for the Memphis defense.
Memphis X-factor: O.J Mayo, because if he can provide to give them a steady second scoring option behind Randolph, the Grizzlies offense will be much better.
On the other side, the Thunder will have to get out and run. The fast break will be able to kill this Grizzlies team, and the combination of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook could prove to be too much for the Grizz to handle.
OKC X-factor: Serge Ibaka, because if he can contain Zach Randolph, the Thunder could sweep the Grizzlies.
Prediction: OKC in 6.
#3 Dallas Mavericks @ #2 Los Angeles Lakers
Fans are already drooling over this series, as both teams are on a mission this season.
Both teams finished their series in 6 games, and are both looking strong.
Dirk Nowitzki's title window may be running out, and this puts more pressure on the Mavs. At the same time, Kobe Bryant is on a quest for a three-peat, and the Lakers are looked as determined as ever.
The winner of this series will likely advance to the NBA finals, so expect a fantastic battle.
For the Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki absolutely has to outplay his counterpart Pau Gasol, and Jason Kidd will also need to step up. Defensively, they will have to fluster Kobe Bryant, and contain the Lakers potent attack.
Mavericks X-Factor: Peja Stojakovic, because if he is playing well, he is one of the best three point shooters in the game.
The Lakers always seem to leave things to the last minute, but right now they are looking ready for the Mavericks. Kobe Bryant's injury could affect the team greatly, and Pau Gasol will likely have to carry the load.
Lakers X-Factor: Steve Blake, because he will likely get heavy minutes guarding Jason Kidd, and will have to lock him up.
Prediction: Lakers in 6
#5 Atlanta Hawks @ #1 Chicago Bulls
The Atlanta Hawks have finally made it out of the first round after being one of those one-and out teams virtually every season, beating the team who they got swept by last playoffs, the Orlando Magic.
The top seeded Bulls got through the Indiana Pacers, but they did not impress. Indiana could very well have won this series if they executed down the stretch, but the Bulls defense shut them down and Derricks Rose scored when he needed to.
The Bulls could very well be in trouble. Offensively, the Bulls weren't great against the mediocre Pacers D, and the Hawks have a much better defensive team. Derrick Rose shot a very low percentage, but for some reason people seemed to push this aside.
The Hawks have a very well rounded team, and could create some problems for the Bulls.
For the Hawks to win, they will need Joe Johnson at his best, and they will absolutely need Josh Smith and Al Horford to dominate the inside.
Atlanta X-Factor: Jeff Teague, because Kirk Hinrich will now be out of the series most likely, and he will need to slow down Rose.
The Bulls are still very favored in this series, and to win they will have to keep it simple. Stop relying on Derricks Rose, and balance the offense. Rose took far too many shots in the Indiana series, and if he does the same thing this series, the Bulls could lose.
The Bulls defense will always be solid, but offense will be the difference.
Chicago X-Factor: Carlos Boozer, because he needs to support Derrick Rose on offense.
Prediction: Hawks in 7
#3 Boston Celtics @ #2 Miami Heat
This is the match-up everyone has been waiting for. This could be the match-up of the playoffs.
The Miami Heat have gotten used to the bad guy label, and are on a mission. The Celtics are the only team to complete a sweep in the first round, and look stronger than ever.
Last year, everyone thought the Celtics were washed up and had no chance against LeBron's Cleveland Cavaliers, but the Celts manhandled the Cavaliers and shut up critics.
This year, LeBron is on a mission and more determined than ever to shut up virtually everybody.
Both team match up very well against each other, and it should be an unbelievable series.
The Celtics are a very deep team, and will cause problems for the Heat. The main problem for the Celtics will be guarding two of the best in the league, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. If the Celtics can do the improbably and slow these two down, the Celtics will own the series.
Boston X-Factor: Jermaine O'Neal, because the Celtics have been really missing their defensive anchor Kendrick Perkins, but the Celtics felt like they would be fine with O'Neal at center. Is that the case?
The Heat will definitely have a hard time guarding Rajon Rondo with their weak point guards, so interior defense will be the key for the Heat. LeBron James will look to take over games at times, and will create many problems for the Celtics.
If the Heat's defense is better than the Celtics defense, Miami will win the series.
Miami X-Factor: Chris Bosh, because if Bosh is producing at an all-star level, the Heat are virtually impossible to stop.
Prediction: Heat in 7
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