Triple Double: Playoff preview spectacular!
The NBA playoffs have finally arrived. It would be foolish to write a column on anything but the playoffs, so now I will give my predictions for each series. Let’s get to it!
No. 1 Chicago Bulls vs. No. 8 Philadelphia 76ers
The complexion of this series, and the entire playoffs, changed with a little more than a minute left in the fourth quarter of game one. Bulls superstar point guard Derrick Rose tore the ACL in his left knee, an injury that will keep him out the rest of the season.
Even without Rose, the Bulls should be able to handle the 76ers. But their title hopes just went up in smoke.
Prediction: Bulls in 5
No. 2 Miami Heat vs. No. 7 New York Knicks
The Heat looked motivated and focused in the first two games of the series and have a commanding 2-0 lead heading to Madison Square Garden. Amar’e Stoudemire decided to break the glass covering a fire extinguisher with his hand, so he’s expected to miss game three and possibly the rest of the series. I smell a sweep.
Prediction: Heat in 4
No. 3 Indiana Pacers vs. No. 6 Orlando Magic
The Magic surprised a lot of people with an 81-77 game one win on the road, but the Pacers bounced back Monday and evened the series at 1-1. Without Dwight Howard, I don’t think the Magic have the ability to stop the Pacers’ frontcourt combination of David West, Roy Hibbert and Tyler Hansbrough.
But the Magic can shoot the ball, and teams that can do that have a chance to win every night. If they get hot from beyond the arc, things will get very interesting.
Prediction: Pacers in 6
No. 4 Atlanta Hawks vs. No. 5 Boston Celtics
This series got a lot tougher for the Celtics with Rajon Rondo’s suspension for game two. The Celts are already facing a 1-0 deficit after a sluggish showing in game one and now will have to beat the Hawks without their point guard and perhaps without Ray Allen yet again.
The Hawks looked solid defensively in game one but shot just 40.8 percent in victory. I’m still not convinced Atlanta has the toughness to eliminate Boston.
Prediction: Celtics in 7
No. 1 San Antonio Spurs vs. No. 8 Utah Jazz
I slighted the Jazz a few weeks ago when I didn’t give them any chance to make the playoffs. What have I learned from the experience? Nothing!
Prediction: Spurs in 5
No. 2 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. No. 7 Dallas Mavericks
This series has been great so far, with the first two games coming down to the wire. The Thunder are many people’s pick to come out of the West, but the Mavericks aren’t going down without a fight. I’d expect them to take a game or two at home, but the Thunder’s youth and offensive firepower will simply be too much for the aging Mavericks.
Prediction: Thunder in 6
No. 3 Los Angeles Lakers vs. No. 6 Denver Nuggets
Before game one of this series, I thought the Nuggets had a great chance to beat the Lakers. But Los Angeles came out and played a complete game in beating Denver 103-88 Sunday. Now I’m far less sure of the Nuggets’ chances.
I still like Denver’s depth and offensive ability, and their bench is dramatically better than that of the Lakers. This one will be interesting, but I’m going with the Lakers in the best opening round series.
Prediction: Lakers in 7
No. 4 Memphis Grizzlies vs. No. 5 Los Angeles Clippers
Where do I even begin? The Grizzlies were outclassing the Clippers in every way in game one, leading by 27 points with 1:34 left in the third quarter. But the Clippers staged a furious comeback, capped by Chris Paul’s two free throws with 23.7 seconds left and shocked the Grizzlies 99-98.
It is fair to question whether Memphis will be able to come back from such a monumental collapse. But it’s also fair to question whether the Clippers can get their act together and play good basketball for more than 12 minutes. Despite the subpar defense, the Paul-Blake Griffin duo should be enough to squeak by Memphis if they get enough help from the supporting cast.
Prediction: Clippers in 7