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The NBA Playoffs Are in Full Flight: Predictions and Breakdowns

Daniel MalkinContributor IMay 5, 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)

Eastern Conference Semifinals

Cleveland vs. Atlanta

The series between the Cavaliers and the Hawks is clearly going to be the least exciting series of all. Simply put, the Hawks have no chance against LeBron James and whoever else is on that team. Joe Johnson played amazing basketball against Miami and once again showed the basketball world that he is one of the premiere shooting guards in the league. However, Cleveland is just too strong on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball and will outplay Atlanta throughout the series. Cleveland 4-1

Boston vs. Orlando

As a Celtics fan I would like to say that the last series against the Bulls was one of the most exciting seven games I have ever seen. With that said I believe Boston is a bit tired and are missing two key players, Kevin Garnett and Leon Powe due to injuries. Orlando will be without Courtney Lee at the guard position and will be forced to play the pathetic JJ Redick. Dwight Howard is a beast and the Celtics will have major problems containing him underneath the basket. Boston is more experience and has home court advantage which comes up big if the series goes to seven games. Rondo will outplay Alston in every game and Pierce will continue to hit big shots, but I don’t believe it will be enough to take down the Magic. Orlando 4-3

Western Conference Semifinals

Los Angeles vs. Houston

This series is a difficult one to predict and has been overlooked by many basketball fans. LA has been playing great basketball and seems to have dominated the West for a majority of the season. Houston will pose somewhat of a threat to the Lakers because of Yao Ming. Bynum looked just average against Utah and clearly needs to step up more on both sides of the ball. With that said, Kobe and Gasol will continue their impressive play and outside of Yao, Houston is too small to contend with the Lakers for seven games. Lakers 4-2

Denver vs. Dallas

The Nuggets have finally broken their first round curse by dismantling the Hornets. Chauncey Billups has made Denver into a serious playoff contender. The Nuggets are a completely different team with him on the court and he is continuing to prove that he is a premiere NBA point guard. The Mavericks looked good against the senior citizen Spurs, but they were banged up and out run by Dallas throughout the series. Dallas lacks big men and Chris “The Birdman” Andersen will be flapping his wings after each and every block against Dirk Nowitzki. Denver will continue their playoff run and it will be interesting to see how much money Mark Cuban loses during another Dallas series collapse. Denver 4-2

Eastern Conference Finals

Cleveland vs. Orlando

The Cavs will dominate the Hawks and get rested before going to battle against Dwight Howard and company. Howard will once again dominate games while absolutely destroying Ilgauskas in the paint. LeBron “The MVP” James will continue his amazing play and should dominate any defender the Magic throw at him. The Cavaliers will most likely come into this series undefeated or with only one loss so this will be their first competitive series. If Orlando can get through Boston, they will give Cleveland a fight but without Jameer Nelson and potentially not having Courtney Lee their bench is not deep enough to win. Cleveland 4-2

Los Angeles vs. Denver

Denver is a very good team, but they are not a great team. However, the Lakers are a great team and they will prove this against the Nuggets. With having home court advantage and Kobe Bryant, the Lakers should get through this series. Their bench is so much deeper and more athletic than the Nuggets and that will be the major difference in this series. I look forward to the matchups in the paint with both of these teams but the difference will be at the perimeter. Ariza, Odom, and Bryant will hit big shots and Vujacic will contribute with some solid play. Lakers 4-2

NBA Finals

Los Angeles vs. Cleveland

If these two teams advance to the finals it should be a very exciting series between LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. The Cavs won one more game then the Lakers and therefore will be rewarded with home court advantage. James is the best player in basketball right now and no one can matchup up with his strength and speed on the court. The Cavs are a young, inexperienced team that lack big-time players outside of LeBron. The Lakers have experience and depth to outlast Cleveland throughout a seven game series. LeBron is one roll player away from winning a championship, but will come up short in this series. Lakers 4-2

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