NBA Playoffs: Eastern Conference Semifinals Preview

Pete TreperinasCorrespondent IMay 4, 2009

AUBURN HILLS, MI - APRIL 26:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers does his pre game ritual prior to playing the Detroit Pistons in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at the Palace of Auburn Hills on April 26, 2009 in Auburn Hills, Michigan. 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 Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Cleveland Cavaliers (1) vs. Atlanta Hawks (4)

Is there any hope for the Hawks to beat the future 2009 NBA champs? Nah. 

That's right, I called them the future champs. Cleveland is going to win it all. The rest is all just building up to the Finals and likely the Lakers. 

No surprises in the first round sweep. Detroit didn't show up, and LeBron James had a field day. Now I don't think it'll be to that extent against the Hawks, but the Cavs aren't going to have a problem here. 

The Hawks-Heat matchup in round one was a fun one to watch. Joe Johnson and Josh Smith are both amazing players, and if Atlanta wins a game or two in this series, it will likely be because of them. 

Atlanta took the Celtics to seven games in the first round last year, so they've been known to surprise. However, I can't see Cleveland losing a game at home, and losing three on the road isn't very likely. 

The lowest point total that James had against Detroit in the first round was 25, not to mention he was notching double-doubles like they were going out of style. The bottom line is that to stop LeBron, the Hawks will need a miracle. 

Cavs in four. 

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Boston Celtics (2) vs. Orlando Magic (3)

The big question is: How good were the Chicago Bulls? Sure, Derrick Rose and Ben Gordon played well in that series, but I don't think Boston should have had so much trouble with Chicago, with or without Kevin Garnett. 

And I got news for you Boston, Orlando isn't Chicago- they're a whole lot better. 

Ray Allen had some special games in the first round and I think he's pretty close to erasing the tag of someone who can't perform in the post-season. He'll face former teammate Rashard Lewis in this series, and they could both have big series.

Lewis is a streaky shooter and when he gets hot, it's hard to shut him down. Speaking of streaky shooters, both Paul Pierce and Brian Scalabrine will be huge for the C's. Scalabrine will likely see quite a few minutes, and Pierce will be on the court for most of the series I would expect. 

Dwight Howard will ultimately be the player that pushes the Magic into the Conference Finals. Why? There's no one to match up with him now that KG and Leon Powe are both out. Kendrick Perkins is no match for Howard, who was an MVP candidate. 

Don't expect another seven-game, overtime epic; Boston just can't be as effective, sans Garnett. 

Magic in six. 

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