Cavaliers in 5
The Pistons have been in the Eastern Conference Finals every season since 2003. That is going to end abruptly this year, as they will be lucky just to win a game against the 66-16 Cavs. These are not the same Pistons, anymore, as the decisions to fire Coach Flip Saunders, and trade Chaucey Billups for Allen Iverson have left the Pistons huddled in mediocrity following a 39-43 season, while the Cavaliers will be playing into June
Lakers in 5
After losing to the Celtics in the NBA Finals last season, the Lakers have appeared to be on mission, as they dominated the Western Conference all season, posting a 65-17 record. The Jazz are not a bad eighth seed, but they are an eight seed, and they have no chance to win the series, as the Lakers are going to be a tough team to beat for anybody as long as Kobe Bryant, and Pau Gasol are healthy.
Celtics in 6
The defending champion Celtics have their work cut out for them as they face the possibility of missing Kevin Garnett through out the playoffs. Against the Bulls, a young team with not much playoff experience, it should not hurt them too much, as they should be able to slip past in six games, as Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are good enough to get the Celtics past the Bulls, who don’t have that big scorer or take over player to give the Celtics a serious challenge.
Hornets in 7
Usually there is a wide gap between the second and seventh seeds, but in the tightly bunched Western Conference, only five games separated these two teams in the regular season. The Nuggets enter the playoffs with something to prove as Carmelo Anthony has yet to see the second round, while Chuncey Billups gives them a proven postseason winner, the Hornets will have the best player on the court, and in a seven game series Chris Paul will be the difference as the Hornets get the upset.
Magic in 4
This series has mismatch written all over it, as the Magic led by Dwight Howard, face perhaps the worst team to slip into the 2009 postseason. There is nobody on the 76ers who could equal the offensive or defensive output of Howard, who should be able to dominate the middle against the mediocre 76ers, while the Magic also have a huge edge on shooting from outside as well.
Mavericks in 6
One team has playoff history full of recent success, the other has a playoff history of heartbreak, and both call Texas home, in what could be the most interesting series of the first round. However, the Spurs who have won four of the last ten NBA Championships are not going to be anywhere near 100%, as Manu Ginobilli, who always seems to deliver that big shot is out, while Tim Duncan is playing on an achy knee, will be the Spurs undoing.
Heat in 7
Last year as an eight seed, the Hawks gave the Celtics all they could handle, winning all three games at home, before bowing in seven games. The Heat meanwhile are back in the playoffs one year removed from a disastrous 15-67 season. Once again the key here will be the best player on the court and that is Dwyane Wade who has already lifted the Heat to a NBA Championship in 2006, as he gets the Heat to what should be a stellar second round match up against the Cavs.
Rockets in 6
Tracy McGrady is not going to be on the court, and that is bad news for the Rockets, as this would have no doubt been the year, he would have finally won a playoff series. However, against the Blazers Yao Ming may be all they need. The Blazers do have the talent and the home court edge to win the series, but they have no playoff experience, and while the current Rockets postseason success is non-existent those tough seven game series will give them all they need to slip by in this series.