Western Conference 1st round.
1. Lakers V. 8. Nuggets- Lakers in 6. Denver will put up a fight. They are a very strong 8 seed. They don't play much defense, but they run and score with the best of them. They will give the Lakers fits at times. But overall the Lakers are a better all around team. Especially if Bynum comes back and contributes. Kobe will play stopper on Iverson and Anthony. Also the big game experience of guys like Derek Fisher will come into play. The Nuggets dont have many playoff tested guys after AI.
2. Hornets V. 7. Mavericks- Hornets in 6. Another 1st round exit for Dirk. No matter which way this series swings it will be a grueling battle with both teams trading games on eachother's courts. The Hornets overall talent level will trump the Mavs. They just havent really been clicking with Jason Kidd yet. They should be by now. But who knows they may figure it out by the time the playoffs start.
3. Spurs V. 6. Suns- Suns in 7. The Spurs got the best of them in a series that could have gone either way last year. I dont see that happening again. Especially with the adittion of Shaquille O'Neal. Many have critcized the move but it will work against the Spurs. In past series' the Suns havent had another big guy they can throw at Duncan. And thats why the Spurs have gotten the better of them. Now they have 2 monsters down low that can guard Duncan all game. Parker and Ginobli are very good, but without Duncan producing like usual i cant see them winning. The Suns are a very battle tested team, and i think this year they will finally get past San Antonio.
4. Jazz V. 5. Rockets- Jazz in 5. I dont think the Rockets are that good. Scolia and Mutumbo have been a decent down low combo so far in the absence of Yao, but that will be exploited in this series. This is a Utah team that likes to go in the paint. Boozer is dominant and without a real down low defensive presence (dont say Mutumbo still is) i cant see the Rockets winning. Especially with the way the Jazz play at home. Houston doesnt really have anybody else that can score at will besides McGrady, Utah has many options and that will prove huge.
Eastern Conference 1st Round-
2. Pistons V. 7. 76ers- Pistons in 6. This series could be closer than alot think. The 6ers are a solid, athletic team. They have a very good and underrated PG in Andre Miller, and up and coming superstar in Andre Igudola, and some young talent that can contribute (Louis Williams, Thaddeus Young) and a solid post player in Samuel Dalembert. The Pistons are still the better team and will play it close but ultimatley end up on top.
3. Magic V. 6. Raptors- Magic in 5. The Magic will dominate the post. Toronto doesnt really have a post player than can match up with Dwight Howard. Yes Bosh is a PF but he doesnt play like one. Hes a finesse PF if you want to call it that. They have nobody that can stick Howard and he will dominate this series. You also add in the their 3 point ability, this series may not even be close. Sam Mitchell cant make up his mind on who his PG is and that will cost him.
4. Cavs V. 5. Wizards- Wizards in 7. Arenas is back, Butler is healthy, Jamison is having his best season, how will they not win. That trade in my mind hurt the Cavs. They got smaller in getting Ben Wallace, not that they were big to begin with. Lebron is ailing a little. The Wizards have given guys like Blatche and Stevenson more time in the season because of injuries, and that will pay off in this series. Arenas has a grudge on a lot of people, and alot of times he takes it out by scoring alot of points, as we have seen with all the teams that he said he would torch last year, and did. Except for the Blazers i think it was. His presence now will be huge, and i dont see them losing again to a Cavs team that is not as good as they were last playoffs.
Western Conference 2nd Round-
1. Lakers V. 4. Jazz- Jazz in 7. I dont trust the Lakers. I dont think they are as good as everybody is portraying them to be. And the Jazz are no flukes. They made it to the Western Conference Finals last year for a reason. Deron Williams is even better. Boozer is better. This team has all the pieces to make a nice run. I think they handle the Lakers in a 7 game series.
2. Hornets V. 6. Suns- Suns in 7. Battle of the PGs. Nash comes out on top because he has the better supporting cast. Amare and Shaq down low are too much for Tyson Chandler too handle. His game is defense, he cant play both these mammoths. Then you add in guys like Barbosa, Hill and Bell who all play their roles extremely well, they have the team that can finally make it this year. The key is going to be how Raja Bell guards Paul. I dont think Dantoni can put Nash on Paul because of his lack of defensive skills. Bell will have to step up and play stopper like he has so many times before.
Eastern Conference 2nd Round-
1. Celtics V. 5. Wizards- Celtics in 5. The Wizards are going to be drained from a long battle with Cleveland. The Celts will be coming off their very easy series against the Hawks. The Big 3 are doing to be too much for the Wiz to handle. The only way Washington makes this close is if they somehow can score 110 ppg against the Celtics. And this being the best defensive team in the league, i highly doubt that will happen.
2. Pistons V. 3. Magic- Magic in 7. The Pistons are a very good team. But so are the Magic. They have the perfect formula for winning. They have so many guys that can step back and hit the 3. And then the most dominating big man in the game. Feed and Kick all game. This will be a very good back and forth series. But Wallace and McDyess arent big enough to stop Howard. He will dominate yet again. The only thing the Pistons have over the Magic is their experience and their overall ability to just win no matter how. But the Magic will overcome.
Western Conference Finals
5. Jazz V. 6. Suns- Suns in 6. This is finally the year that they make the Finals. Shaq puts them over the top. Two 7'0 big men that can both play at a high level is just too hard to stop. Its hard to win a championship without any big men these days. The Suns have 2. While Shaq is not what he once was, he is still a 7'2 body that can easily grab 10 boards and score 15 points. Thats still pretty good. And then add in Amare who can grab 10 rebs and score over 20 at will. Also the best PG in the game in Steve Nash, and a great supporting cast, Pheoniz finally gets in. The Jazz just cant handle them yet. The Jazz are a very good and young team. 2 straight trips to the Western Conference Finals will be a huge morale boost for next season.
Eastern Conference Finals
1. Celtics V. 3. Magic- Celtics in 6. The Celtics actually have somebody that can stop Howard while dominating the game himself. Kevin Garnett will finally make that trip to the Finals hes been waiting for. They are just too much for the Magic to defend. Howard is still going to have a very good series, but Garnett will prevent him from dominating like he will in the Pistons and Raptors series. Rajon Rondo will be the X factor in this one. His play will determine if the Celts win or not. Its time for him to step up and prove to everybody that he is a playoff caliber PG and can lead a team to a championship.
1. Celtics V. 6. Suns- Suns in 7. This will go down as one of the best Finals series' ever. The Celtics may havea slight advantage coming in because they have played far less games and havent had to give it everything they got every night like the Suns have thus far. But by game 3 that fatigue will wear off and the Suns will take control of the series. Hill and Bell are pretty good defenders and will prevent Allen and Pierce from lighting it up from the floor. Garnett will find it hard to get going with having to deal with Amare and Shaq two very good shot blockers. After Garnett the Celts dont have another guy that can play good defense down low. The Suns will exploit that and either Shaq or Amare will have a huge night every game. In the end its just too much for the Celts to handle. The Suns are too deep and this is their best team since Steve Nash came over. The Suns finally get that championship that they have been so close to for the last several years. And a move by Steve Kerr that was once blasted by all, will be glorified and he will be thought of as a genious. The guy that finally got Pheonix over the top.
It may be a little bit out there, but hey thats how i see it playing out. We shall see.