Well readers, after a long trip to Somalia where I was fighting off vandal pirates, I am finally back in America and excited about the NBA playoffs. So, without further ado, here is the first installment of the Missouri Columns annual NBA playoff predictions….
Eastern Conference- First Round
(8) Detroit Pistons vs. (1) Cleveland Cavaliers
This series matches up teams headed in totally different directions. The Pistons are in as much trouble as crosstown General Motors, as they have fallen off the map like David Duvall. After reaching six straight Eastern conference finals, Detroit squeaked into the playoffs at 39-43. You think Dumars regrets that Billups-Iverson trade? You think Lebron cares?
Cleveland Wins 4-0
(7) Chicago Bulls vs. (2) Boston Celtics
Wow, stunning developments in Boston recently. First, we hear that Kevin Garnett will not play at all in the postseason. Then, we hear that Boston’s GM Danny Ainge suffered a minor heart attack. Just remember Danny, you did win a championship last year and you do face inexperienced Chicago in the first round. Settle down big guy.
Boston Wins 4-2
(6) Philadelphia 76ers vs. (3) Orlando Magic
Here’s an idea: Instead of playing this series in the conventional way, we do a slam dunk contest between Dwight and Andre Iguodala. I still think I have the Magic.
Orlando wins 4-2
(5) Miami Heat vs. (4) Atlanta Hawks
This is undoubtedly the best series in the first round out East. I can’t wait to see Dwyane Wade play in Game 1 in Atlanta. He is just gonna give us that stare. That stare that only gives us a glimpse into the mind of a man possessed and on a mission to prove that he belongs in the discussion with Kobe and Lebron. Look out Atlanta.
Miami wins 4-2
Western Conference First Round
(8) Utah Jazz vs. (1) Los Angeles Lakers
The Jazz have the talent to make a deep run. They could have easily been the two-seed if that hadn’t been completely incompetent on the road. But the fact of the matter is, this team was 0-15 on the road this season when playing against teams with winning percentages of .600 or better. That spells disaster in a series against The Black Mamba and company.
Los Angeles wins 4-1
(7) New Orleans Hornets vs. (2) Denver Nuggets
We have got some great point guard in this series. Chris Paul may be the best point guard in the league, but there may be no point guard than Chauncey Billups come playoff time. He brought order to an erratic team and moved Denver from 7 or 8 seed destined to lose in the first round to a legitimate contender. The Hornets have health issues right now with Stojakovic, Chandler and Posey all playing below 100-percent.
Denver wins 4-3
(6) Dallas Mavericks vs. (3) San Antonio Spurs
Even without Manu Ginobili, I like the Spurs in this series because they refuse to surrender. Tim Duncan is running on bad knees, but this team has the depth to pick up the load. Look for Tony Parker to have a big series. Dallas is hot, but I think what they did down the stretch was somewhat of an illusion. Even so, this series could go the distance as neither Texas team has a true advantage when playing at home.
San Antonio wins 4-3
(5) Houston Rockets vs. (4) Portland Trail Blazers
This is not a great matchup for Portland. In Artest and Battier, Houston has the perimeter defenders to lock down Brandon Roy. As good as Oden and Aldridge are going to be, they are not good enough yet to stop Yao Ming. Houston has not had the best success in the playoffs, but they still have a lot more big game experience than the young Trailblazers.
Houston wins 4-2
Eastern Conference Second Round
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Miami Heat
King James vs. D-Wade. What more can you ask for? Well, maybe Lebron vs. Kobe would edge this matchup, but still. I think that Cleveland is far too dominant at home (39-2) and Miami is far too abysmal on the road (15-26) for this series to go seven. Lebron should be able to pick up at least one in Miami to end this series in five. Despite losing, there is still a lot of hope for Miami. 43 wins, the reemergence of Wade, and the addition of Carlos Boozer likely to happen in the offseason.
Cleveland wins 4-1.
Orlando Magic vs. Boston Celtics
The latest Sports Illustrated cover asks “Can the Magic’s Dunk Machine get serious for once?” Well SI, I think Superman will get serious once he has to face the defending champs in the second round. How serious will he get? Book him for 25 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 blocks. Without Garnett, Boston lacks any inside stoppers and Dwight should go wild in the paint.
Orlando wins 4-2
Western Conference Second Round
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Houston Rockets
Hoorah for Houston! They finally made it out of the first round! Nice season Adelman, but your boys stand no chance against the Lakers. I will keep this analysis short and just exclaim, “LA rolls!”
Los Angeles wins 4-1
Denver Nuggets vs. San Antonio Spurs
This series will officially mark the end of a fantastic era for the San Antonio Spurs. Duncan’s knees will be tired after a fast-paced series against Dallas. Ginobili will still be out. Parker will need to score 40 a game to keep San Antonio close against the high-scoring Nuggets. I don’t see that happening. I think Chauncey Billups is good enough to carry a Denver team that has not been able to make it out of the first round all the way to the West Finals. Experience is a good intangible resource for San Antonio, but it can only take them so far. If this team wants to be a contender next year, they must try draft and trade for some younger athletes.
Denver wins 4-2
Eastern Conference Finals
Orlando Magic vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Remember the idea I had about the first round matchup between Orlando and Philadelphia? Well, scratch that and let’s hold on it for this series. As cool as it would be to see the Cavs and Magic in a seven game set, how much better would it be to see Lebron vs. Dwight in a slam dunk matchup? Honestly?!!!! David Stern is a great commissioner (lightyears ahead of Bud Selig) but not innovative enough to make that happen, so let the conventional games play on! Orlando won the season series 2-1. That stat means nothing to me. Lebron’s game is at the stratospheric level during the regular season. Come playoff time, however, James’ game has migrated to the highest level, the Exosphere. For those of you morons who don’t know science, just know that you should not read to much into this matchup because Cleveland will win comfortably.
Cleveland wins 4-1
Western Conference Finals
Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Lakers
See above matchup with Houston for two word phrase.
(In case you didn’t look, it is ‘LA rolls’ That statement applies for this series as well. Sorry Chauncey/Melo.)
Los Angeles wins 4-1
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Finally, the matchup the whole world is waiting for. From London, to Tokyo, to Boise, and everywhere in between, televisions will be tuned in to the greatest NBA finals in the past decade. The matchup between Kobe and Lebron will be something to remember for a lifetime. These Finals will bring the NBA back to its glory days, when Jordan and Pippen were dueling with Stockton and Malone as Bob Costas announced over a gleeful tune on NBC. Don’t act like you don’t remember how perfect those days were.
Los Angeles is the much better team on paper, in my opinion. Kobe has a better supporting cast with Gasol, Odom and Bynum than Lebron does with Williams, Ilgauskas and West. Look deep into those matchups because, essentially, Kobe and Lebron cancel each other out. They will both get their 30-40 points each game, but it will be the supporting cast that makes the difference. I think the Lakers have the edge because of their supporting cast. However, you could make a valid point by saying that with Lebron it doesn’t matter, because he makes everyone around him so much better when they are playing alongside him. We shall see….
My bold prediction is that this series will go seven. In that seventh game, Kobe and Lebron will each drop over 40 points. However, Kobe will be the one taking the last shot with the chance to win. He will make it. The Lakers will win their 15th NBA Championship. With this the shot and his overall performance in game seven on the King’s home floor, the comparisons to Jordan will start becoming more valid. Nobody wants a title more than Kobe this year. You’ve heard him say it a million times. “I think about it constantly. It keeps me up at night.”
I feel like it is destiny for Kobe to hold up the championship trophy this year after failing so miserably against Boston last year. He cannot lose two straight finals. Not even Lebron can stop him this time around.
Los Angeles wins 4-3