The 2009 NBA Playoffs some say will not provide much excitement or intrigue. It’ll be similar to the NCAA tournament which I just woke up from. We’ll I say to them, where have you been? Yes the great teams are easy to pick from the good teams, but it will not be sweeps galore this year. On the contrary, it will be better than all the summer movies from last year. Well, except Dark Knight, but anyway here are the preview and predictions for the first round.
Eastern Conference Round 1
1 Cleveland vs. 8 Detroit
I don’t see much of a fight here from Detroit. No Allen Iverson or Chauncey Billups. What a stupid trade that was Joe Dumars. A deteriorating Rasheed Wallace and really no identity on offense. LeBron James will run up and down the court on their division rival. Mo Williams will light it up from all over. The one area I’ll give Detroit the advantage is that they will have their offseason plans down before this series is over. I mean really, does D-Town have a chance? Cavs in 5 games.
4 Atlanta vs. 5 Miami
The Hawks have a great trio of Al Horford, Joe Johnson, and Josh Smith. Not to mention a good point guard in Mike Bibby. Their bench is stronger compared to last year primarily with the addition of Ronald Murray. Miami has MVP candidate Dwayne Wade and a slew of young talent. Jermaine O’Neal will provide a boost, but the Hawks are better on both sides of the court and with more experience than the young Heat. Miami will be back next year, but Atlanta will build on last year and this years success. Hawks in 6 games.
3 Orlando vs. 6 Philadelphia
Orlando would’ve been the number 2 seed if not for Jameer Nelson’s shoulder injury. Still this a formidable team. When you have Dwight Howard in the middle and the 76ers have. The Sixers have hmm… Sorry I lost the name, Samuel Dalembert. Nuff said. The Magic live and die by the three. Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu have to get their shot going to get Orlando into the conference finals. The Sixers do have a great player in Andre Igoudala, but past that they don’t have enough to upset the Magic. Orlando in 6 games.
2 Boston vs. 7 Chicago
With the injury to Kevin Garnett it should be noted that they still are the defending champs and still are the team to beat. On that note, the Celtics are not going to repeat. Yes Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are still great players and Rajon Rondo, Glen Davis, and Leon Powe have been better. They still need Garnett. Playoffs are different from the regular season. I can’t wait to see Derrick Rose vs. Rondo. That is a great matchup to watch. The Bulls have a good seven man rotation with Brad Miller and John Salmons added from the Kings at the deadline. This will be a competitive series, but the champs will prevail in 6 games.
Western Conference Round 1
1 LA Lakers vs. 8 Utah
The Lakers are healthy and ready for another run at a championship. The deepest team in the league from top to bottom. Utah doesn’t have a great chance, but a chance. Carlos Boozer has been struggling since his return and the bench has been lackluster. The lone bright spot has been Deron Williams. The Lakers lone weak spot is on defense. Specifically at point. I’m a huge Derek Fisher fan, but it is getting harder to watch him against the elite point guards. With that, the Lakers have no threat of losing this one. LA in 5 games.
4 Portland vs. 5 Houston
No team has flirted with greatness and disappointed so many with it. The Rockets have that chance now with this series against a hungry, young, upstart Portland squad. Yao Ming has to step up here. Now is his chance to show his worth. If the Rockets can beat the Blazers, it will be a huge accompishment. He hasn’t seen the second round of the playoffs. Ron Artest has been a model citizen so far. The True Warrior has to be at his best to help the Rockets. Portland has Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge as their top scorers. Both teams have great depth and it should be a pretty even matchup. The Blazers need to neutralize Yao and keep Artest quiet to avoid watching the rest of the playoffs from home. Portland in 7 games.
3 San Antonio vs. 6 Dallas
A Texas sized rivalry between these two. Tim Duncan vs. Dirk Nowitzki will be a site to see. Tony Parker will be the key. He has to be the agressor against Jason Kidd and Jason Terry. Dallas is not as deep as they’ve been in the past. It will show against the Spurs who are using the mix of veterans and youngsters to perfection. No Manu Ginobili will be a blow to the Spurs. A friend of mine said “So goes Ginobili, so go the Spurs.” And that will be true in these playoffs. Spurs in 6 games.
2 Denver vs. 7 New Orleans
The Nuggets have come a long way. Trading Allen Iverson was the best move they could’ve ever done. Chauncey Billups should get more MVP votes than he will. The Hornets have been inconsistent all year. Nearly trading Tyson Chandler (if the Thunder didn’t refuse the trade) and not having the same intensity from last year have been some of the problems with this team. Chris Paul and David West have been stellar. James Posey will prove his worth here, but with Billups, Carmelo Anthony and former Hornet J.R. Smith coming off the bench, Denver can easily score 100 in every game. Nuggets in 6 games.