NBA Playoffs: The Battle to the Conference Finals

Brandon Ribak@reebokforthreeSenior Writer IMay 5, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 19:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers walks next to LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during a break from the game at Staples Center on January 19, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Sunday marked the official start to the second round of the NBA playoffs.

With the extreme intensity building up between opposing teams and the immense weight of pressure on the athletes, I present to you the amazing battle to advance to the NBA Conference Finals.

Four teams will progress, while the other four will head for the hills, or in other words, the offseason.

Below are the four teams that I predict will advance to the Conference Finals.

The Cleveland Cavaliers

After a simple first round sweep, the Cavaliers will now face up against the young and energetic Atlanta Hawks in the second round of the playoffs.

This series will be another breeze for the dynamic Cleveland Cavaliers team as they have been virtually unstoppable thus far this season.

Winning the MVP award has surely made LeBron James and his entire squad even more determined to make it all the way to the NBA Finals this season.

Without a doubt, the Cavaliers will win this series in the matter of five games. No exceptions.

Game one starts tonight on TNT at 8 p.m. in Cleveland.

The Orlando Magic

After smashing the Boston Celtics during the first half of Game One last night, the Celtics managed to make a terrific comeback. It was just too little too late for them to get the victory.

The Orlando Magic showed what they were capable of doing against the Celtics last night and that intensity and talent should continue for the rest of the series.

Game One was a huge win for the Magic and all Orlando Fans. They now head into Game Two with all the confidence in the world to improve the series to 2-0.

Even if the Magic lose Game Two, they will head back to Orlando for the next two games, where they will definitely capture two quick victories.

Dwight Howard and company seem destined to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals this season and I would not be shocked to see them matched up against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Los Angeles Lakers

Oh no, the Los Angeles Lakers lost game one in LA!

Let's panic and convince ourselves that the Houston Rockets are going to win this series and advance to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since who knows when!

That is surely what Rocket fans are thinking right about now...and I do not blame you. Except for the fact that the Lakers have the best coach in the history of the NBA in Phil Jackson and the best player in the game today in Kobe Bryant.

This loss was certainly a wake up call for the Lakers and I guarantee that it will not happen in game two in LA.

Not to make an excuse, but Bryant missed practice the day before last night's game and had flu like symptoms and a fever during game one.

He still managed to drop 32 points.

The Lakers will head to the film room and find out why and how they lost the game and come out firing in Game Two.

Lakers fans are not worried about this loss one bit. They know that they support the best professional NBA team in the world and that the Lakers squad will work their magic to win this series.

The Denver Nuggets

After capturing game one against the Dallas Mavericks in Denver, the Nuggets are certainly amped and ready to get another win in Game Two.

Chauncey Billups is putting up an MVP type playoff performance and is on a serious shooting surge, making 63.6 percent of his three-point shots and 94.7 percent of his free-throws.

The Nuggets have really put on a spectacular performance during the entire NBA '08-'09 season and have raised eyebrows throughout the playoffs thus far.

The team is legit and there is no way that the Dallas Mavericks will have any chance at advancing passed them to the Western Conference Finals.

Game Two starts tonight on TNT at 10:30 p.m.


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