Heat in 5
And than there was one. That is the best way to sum up the NBA Playoffs in the Eastern Conference. All season it appeared as if the Heat and Bulls were on a collision course for a rematch in the Eastern Conference Finals. However, the Bulls who once again finished with the best record in the NBA regular season suffered a blown tire as injuries to Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah led to them losing to the 76ers. This has the Heat on the expressway back to the NBA Finals. The Pacers are a solid team but they just don’t watch up well with the big three in Miami, who beat Indiana in three of four regular season meetings. The Heat needed five games to dispatch the Knicks and in the early part of the series they dominated leaping out to a 3-0 series lead. The Knicks won Game 5 to avoid the sweep and thus shows the only potential pratfall for the Heat, complacency. If the Heat think they have the East won and play half speed they can be caught by the Pacers, as players like Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert are developing into solid NBA stars. In the end the pattern will be much like the Knicks series as the Heat will send an early message at home, lose one in Indiana, and come back home to win in five games.
Spurs in 5
The veteran Spurs may be old, but they know when and how to close a team out, as they quickly went in for the kill and swept the Jazz in the first round. The Clippers a young team on the rise also had the Grizzlies on the ropes but after a 3-1 series lead, needed to win Game 7 on the road to advance. It is the veteran know how, that will be the biggest factor in this series. The Clippers led by Chris Paul and Blake Griffin have many bright days ahead. However, unless Paul can take over and carry his team the Spurs will win this series as Griffin a playoff neophyte still needs to learn how to hit another level late in big games. The only problem with Chris Paul carrying the Clippers is he will have to do it against Tony Parker who has at times been the best playmaker in the NBA this season as the Spurs had the best record in the West. Look for Parker, Manu Ginobili and even old man Tim Duncan to take the young Clippers to school as they win the series in five, knowing the less games they play the better chance to have to win it all.
Celtics in 6
They may have been the weakest of the 16 teams to make the playoffs in the NBA this season, and they don’t really have a star player you can point to as the one for them to go to, but the Philadelphia 76ers are the second round. Sure they got a break as the Bulls replaces Sirius with Suicide is Painless as their intro music, but they are not a team to be merely laughed off as they beat the Celtics in two of three meetings and were in first place in the Atlantic through first half of the season. The Celtics who got to a slow start had a strong finish and beat the Hawks to set up this Atlantic Division showdown. These days there is more than a touch of grey in the Celtics hair, as they are one of the older teams in the league. Just don’t say that to their face as it makes them angry, and anyone who is green, you won’t like them when they are angry. In their series clinching win against the Hawks, Kevin Garnett had one of the best performances of the postseason. Earlier in the series as Rajon Rondo sat out a suspension, Paul Pierce found the same fountain of youth. As for Rondo he can have a triple double at any time. The point is this, the Celtics have so many weapons any one game someone can emerge and it for this reason they will waltz past the Sixers in six.
Thunder in 6
The bad blood is already coming to the surface as Meta World Peace has said he will not shake James Haden’s hand before Game 1. Just three weeks ago when the Lakers and Thunder last met in the regular World Peace showed his ugly side with a vicious elbow to the head of James Harden, earning a seven game suspension. Expect the games to be physical as Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant who battled for the scoring title battle to take their teams to the Conference Finals. The Thunder have other options besides Durant, as Russell Westbrook has also been a valuable playmaker and scorer all season giving OKC one of the best one-two punches in the NBA. The Lakers chances ride with Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol who at times disappear as they did in two games during the first round as the Nuggets forced a seventh game after trailing 3-1. The Thunder have a deeper team with former Laker Derek Fisher. The Thunder are better defensively with Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka. So in viewing the match ups it would be hard to imagine the Lakers winning this series. However, there is Kobe Bryant who seems to get motivated and bring his game to a higher level in impossible situations. If the other Lakers can rise up with him this could be a great series. However, in the end the Thunder’s size will be the difference as they win in six games.