The NBA playoffs are set to tip off today. With the rise of teams in the east such as Philadelphia and New York, coupled with former power houses Boston and Chicago and the all-star lineup of Miami, the East may be more exciting than the West. Don’t count the West out though, old reliable San Antonio is seeded number 1 followed by the Lakers, Mavericks, Oklahoma City, Denver, Portland, New Orleans and Memphis. The matchups in the West should be a little dicier then those in the East with more of a possibility for an upset in the first round. Below are my predictions for the NBA playoffs including my 2010-2011 champions:
Chicago vs. Indiana : Indiana is that below .500 team that seems to make the playoffs every year. If you finish below .500 you should not be playing in the post season. The Houston Rockets in the West finished 4 games over .500 but they are out, while the Pacers finished 8 games under .500 and they are in the playoffs? I will take the Bulls in a 4 game sweep.
Miami vs. Philadelphia : The Heat have claimed they will win “Not five…not six…not seven…” championships. That bold prediction starts Saturday in Miami. There first semi hurdle will be the Sixers. Philadelphia was the surprise team of the season with Coach of the Year candidate Doug Collins, but the Heat are just too talented. Heat win in 6.
Boston vs. New York : A classic matchup returns in the East and this may be the most exciting first round matchup in the division. New York finally learned to play together at the end of the season and they are on a bit of a run heading into the playoffs. Boston has been in a funk ever since the Kendrick Perkins trade and they need to pull it together. This will be a series, but in the end Boston wins in 7.
Orlando vs. Atlanta : This may be the only possible upset in the East, if you call a 5 over a 4 an upset. Atlanta owned the season series but will that transfer into the playoffs. I will take the experience of the Magic over the Hawks. Orlando wins in 6.
San Antonio vs. Memphis : Memphis is one of the hottest teams in basketball since the first of the year going 32-18. San Antonio is that quiet, not on Top Ten Plays every night, but always there team. All of the talk out west was the Lakers and Dallas, but the Spurs are the number 1 seed and although with as well as the Grizzlies are playing this could be a good series; the Spurs will prevail in the end. San Antonio wins in 6.
LA Lakers vs. New Orleans : The Lakers have experience plus one of the best players in the league, maybe the best in Kobe Bryant. The Lakers will turn on the win switch in the playoffs and New Orleans will be their first victim. Lakers in 5.
Dallas vs. Portland : Dallas may be one of the most disappointing teams in recent NBA history. They have one of the most entertaining owners who wants to win a championship more than anything and spends the money to do it. The lack of defense in Dallas has killed their playoff hopes, but this year could be different. Portland is a well coached and balanced team, but that will not be enough to overcome the Mavericks. Dallas wins in 6.
Oklahoma City vs. Denver . Denver is on a roll after trading Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks. They have a great coach in George Karl and they play team basketball because they now have no real superstar. Oklahoma City has a superstar in Kevin Durant and at 55-27 this season they were only 3 games away from being the second seed. Oklahoma ends Denver’s hot streak, Oklahoma City wins in 7.
Playoff basketball has begun it is time for the talk to end and to play the games. I am rooting for the Sixers to pull off the biggest upset in NBA history and it would be great to see teams like Denver, Memphis and New York get to the second round with a chance to make some more noise. You never know, favorites have fallen in the past, but even though I am rooting for it, I just don’t see it happening this season.