14 April 2011

2011 NBA Playoffs: Round 1 Predictions

The road to the 2011 NBA Finals begins this Saturday. The top eight clubs of the Eastern and Western Conferences begin their quest to reach the pinnacle of the basketball world. Who will survive and advance the opening round? Here are my quarterfinals predictions for the 2010-11 NBA Playoffs.

(1) Chicago Bulls vs. (8) Indiana Pacers
The Pacers did a nice job to reach the postseason, but quite frankly they are not very good. I would be surprised if they won even one game against this Bulls squad, who are peaking at the right time. Derrick Rose alone gives the Bulls a major advantage but when you factor in Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng, it's not even close. Maybe next year, Larry Bird. 
Bulls in 4

(2) Miami Heat vs. (7) Philadelphia 76ers
Doug Collins has done an awesome job getting this young 76ers squad to rebound from a pitiful start to reach the postseason. The team has a nice future with some good pieces to build with but they do not have the horses that the Heat have to make it a series. They'll steal a game, but the three headed monster will reign supreme early. 
Heat in 5

(3) Boston Celtics vs. (6) New York Knicks
The Knicks have been exciting to watch as their offense has been awesome with Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony this season. However, their serious defensive deficiencies, especially in the paint, with be exposed by this veteran Celtics club. Rajon Rondo will also go to town on Chauncey Billups. New York will win a couple of games though, but they won't take the series. 
Celtics in 6

(4) Orlando Magic vs. (5) Atlanta Hawks
This should be an exciting battle between two of the top centers in the NBA in Dwight Howard and Al Horford but from top to bottom, the Magic are the better club. Stan Van Gundy has every edge over Larry Drew. I really do not expect this inconsistent Hawks team to win any more than a game against Orlando. 
Magic in 5

(1) San Antonio Spurs vs. (8) Memphis Grizzlies
Call me crazy, but the Grizzlies could win this series. It isn't that crazy. They have got a good core in place, even without Rudy Gay, with Mike Conley looking very good running the point, Zach Randolph looking terrific and Marc Gasol developing into a force down low. But I'm still going with the Spurs because they are just too good offensively. 
Spurs in 7

(2) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (7) New Orleans Hornets
Monty Williams has done a really good job this year in New Orleans to get this team back into playoff contention despite a very unsettled ownership situation. Having one of the best point guards in all of basketball in Chris Paul helps. The Lakers are more vulnerable with the injury to Andrew Bynum but this Hornets team is not strong enough in the post to take advantage. Consider this to be a tune-up for Kobe and friends. 
Lakers in 5

(3) Dallas Mavericks vs. (6) Portland Trail Blazers 
Fpr whatever reason, the Mavericks just cannot seem to get it done come playoff time, and I think their playoff woes will continue. This Trail Blazers club is solid defensively and better than you think on offense. LaMarcus Aldridge has turned into a stud in the point, Brandon Roy's return has been huge, and the acquisition of Gerald Wallace looks better by the day. I really like this Portland club.
Trail Blazers in 6

(4) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (5) Denver Nuggets 

This should be one of the more exciting series in the NBA Playoffs as both teams can score at will and love to push it. The Nuggets has shown that there is life after Carmelo and have looked very good now that they rid themselves of a ballhog but I simply do not think they can overtake a team as talented as OKC, who has arguably the best scorer in basketball in Kevin Durant. Their acquisition of Kendrick Perkins has proven to be brilliant. Do not expect much defense to be played here. 
Thunder in 7

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