The 2009 NBA Playoffs

Dan Wheat-RiversContributor IApril 17, 2009

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 8: Coach Stan Van Gundy of the Orlando Magic has words with an official during a game against the Boston Celtics at the TD Banknorth Garden on March 8, 2009 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics lost 86-79. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The NBA Playoffs begin tomorrow.  I love this time of year.  My love of basketball has been waiting for this since the NCAA Champion was crowned a few weeks ago.

There should be some good games to watch this year.  In the Western Conference, the only matchup that should be heavily favored to one team is the one vs. eight, Lakers vs Jazz.  I think the other three matchups could be won by either team.

In the East, I expect the top three seeds to advance, but with Kevin Garnett out for Boston, that's a little less assured than I originally would have thought.  The Miami vs. Atlanta series should be good, if for no other reason than just to watch Dwyane Wade.

I can't imagine anyone beating Cleveland in a seven game series before the NBA Finals, especially with them having home court advantage.  They have enough of a supporting cast now, that if Lebron is having a slightly off shooting night, he can rack up the assists until he finds his rhythm.

I feel the same way about the Lakers.  They have proven they can win against good teams when Kobe doesn't score a ton of points. Pau Gasol was a great addition to the team.  They have some good players coming off the bench in Jordan Farmar, Sasha Pavlovic, Lamar Odom, and a healthy Andrew Bynum.

So that means I think the top seeds from each conference will be in the Finals.  That's a little more likely than when picking NCAA teams, mainly because of the seven game series instead of the one and done.

And the NBA champions?  I think that's the Cleveland Cavaliers.  The home court advantage will be big in this one, and I think that's what it will come down to.  The Lakers do have more playoff experience, but I don't think that will win it for them.  I expect Lebron and company to win in six.