With the Conference finals rounds of the 2011 NBA Playoffs already underway, as NBA fans we are promised some intriguing matchups. The stage has been set, the teams have already gotten halfway there and now the magic number is eight.
Eight games to victory, eight games to achieve the dream, eight games to win it all and be a part of an elite group within the NBA.
Here are 25 bold predictions you might see in the Conference finals and beyond.
Dirty. Nasty. Disgusting. Sick. Unimaginable. Terrific. Emphatic.
These are just some of the words used to describe what Taj Gibson did to Dwyane Wade on that dunk. A day after the dunk, and Gibson is still trending on Twitter.
The former USC standout has hops, and I predict he does it again in the Conference finals.
Maybe he is just getting started; whatever it is, I don't think we've seen the last of Gibson on every highlight show in the country.
We saw it all unravel during the Lakers/Mavericks series when the Lakers, who were evidently frustrated, decided to take matters into their own hands.
JJ Barea was the victim of a dirty foul by Andrew Bynum, and he also got his face gripped by Ron Artest.
The NBA playoffs bring intensity to a new level, so don't be surprised if more suspensions are given out based on the fact that an athlete "loses it."
For what it's worth, my money is on Kendrick Perkins being the first to lose it. His face tells it all—he is not to be messed with.
The Miami Heat's bench finished the postseason dead last in the league, offering up only 21.9 points per game.
During Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, the Heat Bench scored just 15 points, and Mario Chalmers had nine of those 15.
They have been nonexistent this entire postseason, but I predict that maybe one game they will show up and provide at least 20 points.
Just once is not much to ask for, so surely they could do it.
Mark Cuban is the most passionate NBA owner there is. He cares about the city of Dallas, he cares about his team and most importantly, he cares about winning.
With that said, he tends to lose his cool, particularly during the postseason.
Ever since he took over as owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Cuban has been fined a whopping $1.7 million dollars the past 11 years. During the Mavericks' 2006 playoff run that saw them make it to the Finals, Cuban was fined a stunning $450,000 for three separate incidents.
The Mavericks are serious contenders, which means Cuban will have a hard time keeping his mouth shut.
When thinking about players in the NBA playoffs, it's easy to name the obvious states they represent.
California, New York, Washington and Illinois have all produced a great number of NBA players over the years.
This isn't a prediction because it's guaranteed, but I thought I would add it in anyway—Alaska, of all states, will be represented in the NBA Finals.
When I think of Alaska, I think of the place closest to Santa Claus—who would think it would represent the hometown of a player in the NBA Finals?
Mario Chalmers is from Anchorage, while Carlos Boozer is from Juneau.
Alaska stand up, you're on the map.
While I admit this one seems bold, let's think about it for a minute.
During Game 1, Wade was heavily guarded, LeBron was heavily guarded and Chicago forced Miami to work deep into the shot clock.
Bosh was left alone like Sloth from The Goonies—everyone simply forgot about him.
He took 18 shots and scored 30 points. If Chicago sticks to the game plan, Bosh could find himself wide open, shooting elbow jumpers for most of the series.
He might have the most touches on the team and could be the highest scorer for the Heat during the duration of the series.
I will be the first to admit, Russell Westbrook's 14 assists during Game 7 of the conference semifinals was impressive.
However, old habits die hard.
Westbrook has taken 243 shots this postseason, and he has made just 99 of them—just under 41 percent.
He simply has yet to find his shot, and while his team has made it this far, there were times during this postseason where Westbrook was simply a liability. He has shown progression, especially in Game 7, but he could very well slip into his old habits.
Let's see if the kid knows how to pass.
There is just something about Jason Terry this postseason that makes him appear almost immaculate.
He brings energy each game, is playing terrific basketball and has stepped up and been there for his team.
The 11-year veteran is averaging 18.3 points per game and shooting 50 percent from three-point land this post-season. He showed what he could do after putting up a career-high nine 3-pointers against a depleted Lakers team, and he could very well have another break-out game.
Oklahoma City Arena is nothing short of electric. The place is insanely loud, the crowd remains on their feet throughout the entire game and they wear the dark blue, which stands out.
This arena wreaks havoc for opposing teams, so don't be surprised if the Thunder faithful play an instrumental role in helping Oklahoma City to victory.
The Thunder might not lose another game at home this postseason, but they must play well on the road if they want to win it all.
Tibodeau has played a stunning role for the Bulls. The rookie coach is well-respected, he has used his authority well and during a time when players run the league, it is astonishing that a rookie coach has as much control over the team as Thibodeau has.
Don't be surprised if he manages the Bulls straight to the title.
I know it was only one game, but we have seen this act before.
LeBron James gets in the playoffs, then when things are not going his way, he quits.
During Game 1, James was about as noticeable as the title character in Where's Waldo?
The Bulls frustrated the self-proclaimed King, so who is to say they don't continue forcing him to throw up long jumpers and take him out of the game?
Like he has done before, he will seemingly continue to disappear.
While watching Game 7 between the Thunder and the Grizzlies, I overheard Mark Jackson say, "Westbrook is having a perfect game!"
He was shooting 3-of-11 at the time.
I did a bit of research and found all the dumb things Jackson has said over the years with a drinking game to go with it.
Maybe he will say something logical for a change.
Bold prediction, but one that is only three games away from being fulfilled.
When the Bulls are on their game, as witnessed in Game 1, they cannot be stopped.
Everyone in America except those in South Beach will be wishing this prediction occurs.
These are all rumors, but apparently here is why the Lakers were swept by the Mavericks:
- Pau Gasol's girlfriend dumped him and moved out.
- Pau Gasol's girlfriend was informed by Kobe Bryant's wife that Gasol was cheating on her while on the road.
- Kobe Bryant told Vanessa that Pau's girlfriend was cheating on him.
- Shannon Brown was sleeping with Pau's girlfriend, though he denied it on Twitter.
Sheesh, what a story to explain why the team was terrible. I predict another team will use a relationship as a cop-out for poor play.
During Game 1 of the Conference finals, it appeared as though the Bulls were making every shot possible.
Second-chance points and 10 three-pointers were the reasons the Bulls were playing so well; they only shot 43.7 percent, yet won by 21 points.
Don't be surprised to watch the Bulls shoot terribly, but still decimate their opponents again and again.
Bold prediction here, but we could see a game where all Miami Heat fans show up on time for a change.
We've seen it time and time again—late-arriving fans for vital games. The Heat took initiative this season, starting a movement to get fans in their seats.
It didn't work.
Maybe, just maybe, fans could arrive on time for a change.
These two did not seem to be on the same page a lot during the Western Conference semifinals.
With that said, when these two are on, they are unstoppable.
We saw them combine for 75 points in the triple overtime game against the Grizzlies, so rest assured they could do it again.
Both these teams are hungry, both these teams are evenly matched and both the Mavericks and Thunder have superstars capable of taking the game into their own hands.
Recipe for a tight series that could very well go to seven games.
This is a very bold prediction, but I could see it happening.
Peja has averaged just 10 points and two rebounds per game this postseason. With that said, he had 21 against the Lakers during Game 4 of the semifinals.
On a good night, he is capable of living behind the three-point line and hitting every single one of his attempts. He could make the difference, and when he does get going, don't surprised if he is the NBA Finals MVP.
In the Conference semifinals he shot 50 percent from the floor and was an instrumental factor in the series.
Don't be surprised to hear this relatively-unknown name again, as he is capable of making a difference.
Watch how this all unfolds if the Heat lose.
They will blame Spoelstra. This prediction isn't really bold because it is bound to happen.
The Heat have always had a problem with accountability; they tend to blame others, and all the blame will sadly fall on Spoelstra.
During Game 4 against the Lakers, Peja, Jason Terry and Barea combined for 75 points.
During Game 1 against the Bulls, LeBron, Wade and Bosh combined for 63 points.
By no means am I making the claim that the Dallas Mavericks' bench is better than the Heat's Big Three.
However, this bench is capable of a lot more than we have seen. They provide depth, and we could see these three Mavericks players shine against the Thunder's second unit.
I have watched many Mavericks games this year, and one thing is almost always certain: Dirk will try to take the game over, when needed, in the fourth quarter.
On bad shooting nights he will relentlessly drive and get to the foul line. Don't be surprised if he has a 20-point fourth quarter in the remaining postseason.
This one is based on hope rather than a prediction.
Last year we got to witness a treat between the Celtics and Lakers in seven games.
This year I am hoping we get the same, as there is no such thing as too much basketball.
It would be great if it goes down to a Game 7, regardless of who is playing.
Game 1 between the Bulls and the Heat drew 11.1 million television viewers. This was the biggest professional hoops audience in television history, beating out the 2003 NBA All-Star game that saw 10.8 million viewers.
Why is this year's rating important? The NBA has a lockout looming, and if they achieve high television ratings, this could be a huge factor regarding next season.
With high television ratings, neither side will want to be on the golf courses when everyone is interested in the NBA.
More ratings means more revenue, and the NBA would be foolish to lock out the season regardless of the locked-in contract deals.
Surely they won't leave money on the table because of a labor dispute, right?