2010 NBA Playoff Predictions from WhatIfSports.com

Jake WestrichSenior Writer IApril 16, 2010

Whatifsports.com presents its 2010 NBA Playoff Preview. Below is the main bracket and round-by-round series breakdown. To the right of the bracket is our stats table explaining each NBA playoff team's chances of winning each round including the NBA Finals.

We simulated the entire playoff 2,001 times. Home court is taken into account. Average wins and losses per series are indicated in the bracket. Team-by-team breakdowns are below the bracket. To toggle between rounds, click the appropriate link

You can simulate any game in the playoffs yourself using our "NBA Sim Matchup" feature. In addition, create your own
"NBA Dream Team" of past and present players. It's all free!

Record: 61-21
Analysis: If the Cleveland Cavs were destined to win a championship, this would be the season to finish what they started. LeBron James and company have jammed down on the accelerator for 82 games and need to continue to apply that pressure to every team they face if they want to reach the NBA Finals. Cavs'' owner Dan Gilbert spent the money to bring the remaining pieces of the playoff puzzle to Cleveland.

Shaquille O''Neal , though hurt now, will return to join forces with Anthony Parker and Antawn Jamison, the other two fresh faces in the Cavs postseason line-up. From the perimeter Mo'' Williams and Delante West will continue to carry the load with Daniel Gibson acting as their long range threat. The X-factor in this post-season remains Anderson Varejao, but don''t discredit the contributions of Jawad Williams and J.J. Hixon who have proved themselves throughout the course of the season as viable options off the bench.

Record: 41-41
Analysis: Congratulations, Vinny Del Negro, you survived the season! Your reward: a date with LeBron James and the top seeded Cleveland Cavs.

The Chicago Bulls quietly crept up the standings late in the season (6-2 record in April) and took advantage of the Raptors'' free-fall (five straight losses in April) with Chris Bosh (broken face) watching from the bench. They split the season series with the Cavs (2-2), but proved back in November that LeBron can be beat on their home court. Look for Derrick Rose and Noah to be the difference makers in this series.

Player of the series: Cavs - LeBron James (30.2 ppg, 9.3 rpg)

Winning Percentage of 2001 Simulations: Cavs 92.8% - Bulls 7.2%

Record: 50-32
Analysis: The Boston Celtics are proving the opposite that things get better with age. Two years removed from winning the NBA title, basketball fans have written off this year's Celtics as a true contender for a NBA title. Boston began as a project focused around the "Big 3", but have since blossomed into a five man team.

Rajon Rondo has grown tremendously over the past few NBA seasons, but consistency remains the pitfall for the young man out of Kentucky. He can put up the numbers and make the highlight reel on the late sportscast, but can he do it on a nightly basis? Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett will no doubt have to dig deep and try to break out some old school tricks to have any chance of surviving the Eastern Conference playoffs. The X-factors for them are two more veterans coming off the bench in Rasheed Wallace and Michael Finley. They have the playoff experience and the rings to prove it.

Record: 47-35
Analysis: Dwyane Wade has proven time and again he can single handedly carry the Heat to a win. He will have to over a six-week time span if the Miami Heat have any chance at winning another NBA title. Wade will need a respite from time to time and will look to Jermaine O''Neal and Michael Beasley to shoulder the load because if you look at the rest of the roster, the scoring options are few and far between. Wade is eager to see what free agency will bring, but will it follow a second NBA title?

Player of the series: Heat - Dwyane Wade (28.6 ppg, 6rpb, 6 apg)

Winning Percentage of 2001 Simulations: Celtics 55.2% - Heat 44.8%

Record: 53-29
Analysis: The Atlanta Hawks are a lot like the girl in high school that was the ugly duckling. That was until she went to college and became hot.

It's been a process that''s taken a few years, but the Hawks are for real. Atlanta won their playoff series last year for the first time in a decade and they are even better this season. The maturation of Josh Smith has been a major part of the Hawks climb up the Eastern Conference standings. The franchises addition of Jamal Crawford is another weapon at their disposal come round one of the playoffs. It''s also something Crawford has never experienced. At the end of the day, the performance of Al Horford and Joe Johnson will determine how far this team can go. The Hawks have the second longest NBA Finals drought waiting 48 seasons and counting.

Record: 46-36
Analysis: Just when it looked as if the Milwaukee Bucks may make some noise in the playoffs, Andrew Bogut''s season ended violently after crashing to the floor following a dunk. Combining Bogut''s broken right hand along with Michael Redd''s torn ACL, and Milwaukee may be one and done. If you want to look at the glass as half full, the team has been playing well since acquiring John Salmons at the trade deadline.

Jerry Stackhouse brings the ever-present veteran leadership NBA teams love to possess come playoff time. The X-factor as to if the Bucks compete or not will come down to Brandon Jennings. Milwaukee''s success begins and ends with the young phenom whose strong season has been lost in the mix because of where he plays.

Player of the series: Hawks - Joe Johnson (25 ppg, 5 rpg)

Winning Percentage of 2001 Simulations: Hawks 71.3% - Bucks 28.7%

Record: 59-23
Analysis: The Orlando Magic have gotten stronger as the season has progressed. Dwight Howard remains the catalyst with a healthy Jameer Nelson feeding him the rock. The addition of Vince Carter has added a dash of athleticism along with a veteran leader to lean on come the playoffs. Rashard Lewis does a little bit of everything for Orlando and because of his length will help create mismatches on the perimeter.

When J.J. Reddick is on the floor the Magic add a deep threat that can help erase double digit deficits in a hurry. The "Master of Panic", as Shaq so affectionately refers to Stan Van Gundy, has himself a team capable of winning a championship this year and for year's to come.

Record: 44-38
Analysis: Like the Atlanta Hawks, the Charlotte Bobcats have quietly moved up the ranks in the Eastern Conference. With Michael Jordan now the majority owner of the franchise, don't think this team is going away anytime soon. The Bobcats have a nice blend of old and new players along with the defensive minded Larry Brown coaching the team. Charlotte allows the fewest points in the league at just under 93.5 ppg. Playoff veterans Stephen Jackson , Theo Ratliff and Tyson Chandler will need to lead the playoff rookies, Ray Felton and DJ Augustine. The Bobcats have the talent and depth to make a run, but their inexperience might be the one thing holding them back from advancing out of the first round.

Player of the series: Magic - Dwight Howard (20 ppg 11 rpg)

Winning Percentage of 2001 Simulations: Magic 80.3% - Bobcats 19.7%

Record: 57-25
Analysis: The defending NBA champs march into the playoffs as the Western Conference''s #1 seed for the third straight year. However, the Los Angeles Lakers have more chinks in their armor than in years past. Letting Trevor Ariza depart in favor of Ron Artest has been a failure, Pau Gasol has become more vocal about his role (or lack thereof) on the offensive end, and Kobe Bryant is finally starting to show some wear after competing in nearly 1,200 games (not counting contests with Team USA).

Despite these concerns, Los Angeles is still the Vegas favorite to return to the Finals.


Record: 50-32
Analysis: Triggered by a youthful scoring core (Kevin Durant , Green, and Westrbook) and some of the league''s best "glue men" (Thabo Sefolosha, Serge Ibaka, and Eric Maynor), the Thunder are a 1st-round match-up nightmare. Oklahoma City also possesses one of the few distinct home-court advantages in the NBA, with raucous crowds helping aid the Thunder to hold opposing teams to 44.8-percent from the field (2nd best in the Western Conference). A monster series could translate into Durant''s coming out party from "rising star" to "bon-a-fide super-duper-star."

Player of the series: Lakers - Kobe Bryant (29.5 ppg, 7 rpg, 6 apg)

Winning Percentage of 2001 Simulations: Lakers 66.0% - Thunder 44.0%

Record: 53-29

Analysis: One of the more underrated offseason acquisitions in the Association was the Denver Nuggets dealing for Pistons'' guard Aaron Afflalo. Since arriving in Denver, the former UCLA Bruin has become a 6th man extraordinaire, providing lockdown D and chipping in 8.7 ppg. Add in Carmelo Anthony submitting his best campaign to date, and the Nuggets look poised to improve on last year''s run to the Conference Finals. A major determinant will be the health of Coach George Karl, who has been sidelined for the latter part of the season due to cancer treatment. If Karl isn't present, assistant coach Adrian Dantley will take the reins.

Record: 53-29
Analysis: The '09-10 Utah Jazz might be Coach Jerry Sloan's most complete team since the heyday of the Stockton-Malone Era (a period that produced two straight Finals appearances). And just like those late-90's squads from Salt Lake, this lineup is constructed around two stars (Carlos Boozer and Williams) and surrounded by uber-role players (Okur, Millsap, Kirilenko, Korver). Although embarking the season in a rut amidst Boozer trade rumors, Utah underwent a Lazarus-like awakening, revived with a 17-2 game run from mid-January to late February.

Player of the series: Deron Williams (20 ppg, 11 apg)

Winning Percentage of 2001 Simulations: Jazz 58.7% - Nuggets 41.3%

Record: 54-28
Analysis: Hovering around the final playoff spot before the All-Star Break, the Phoenix Suns emerged as one of the league''s hottest teams in the 2nd half of the season. Two integral components for the turn around: 1) Steve Nash continuing to perform at an elite level of play, despite turning 36 in February and 2) The manifestation of Amare Stoudemire. Apparently being shopped around finally knocked some sense into the 27-year-old forward, who has shown glimpses of greatness throughout his career, but neglected to replicate it on a consistent basis. Since the trade deadline, "STAT" has averaged 25 points per game.

Record: 50-32
Analysis: How the Portland Trail Blazers made it to this juncture of the season is a miracle in itself. No team in the NBA endured as many bumps and bruises as Portland. The latest is Brandon Roy's knee injury that could force him to miss the entire playoffs. When you add that to the extended absences throughout the season by Nicolas Batum, Rudy Fernandez, and the season-ending injuries suffered by big men Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla, the Blazers are a playoff anomaly. Yet through all the adversity, Rip City is still is playing in the spring. After an initial adjustment period, offseason acquisition Andre Miller has paid dividends, averaging 14 points and 5.5 assists off the bench. A mid-season trade for Marcus Camby helped replace the loss of Oden and Przybilla, with Camby chipping in 7 points and 11 rebounds a game.

Player of the series: Blazers - LaMarcus Aldridge (24 ppg, 13 rpg)

Winning Percentage of 2001 Simulations: Blazers - 76.9% - Suns 23.1%

Record: 55-27
Analysis: Since stealing Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood from the Wizards, the Dallas Mavericks have emerged as a contender in the West. You're acquainted with Dirk, Kidd, Terry, and Marion; yet the Mavs playoff hopes may ultimately rest with little-known Guadeloupe guard Rodrigue Beaubois. Selected 25th overall in the '09 Draft, Beaubois exploded onto the NBA scene in March, with back-to-back 20 point games against Sacramento and Chicago, as well as dropping a 40-spot on Golden State.

Record: 50-32
Analysis: Yawn. Another year, another playoff berth for Tim Duncan . Although his skills might be slowly deteriorating, "The Big Fundamental" heads into the postseason averaging 17.9 points and 10.1 rebounds. Make no mistake, the play of San Antonio''s Big 3 (Duncan, Ginobili, Parker) are still the foundation of success for coach Gregg Popovich. Yet the San Antonio Spurs were vitalized in '09-10 with the contributions of young-guns George Hill and DeJuan Blair. Both former 2nd-round picks, the two have filled in admirably for the absences of Parker (hand) and Duncan (rest), and provide a spark off the bench.

Player of the series: Spurs - Tim Duncan (20 ppg, 12 rpg)

Winning Percentage of 2001 Simulations: Mavericks 60.3% - Spurs 39.7%


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