Saturday, April 17, 2010



1. Cleveland Cavaliers
2. Los Angeles Lakers
3. Dallas Mavericks
4. Orlando Magic
5. Denver Nuggets
6. Atlanta Hawks
7. Boston Celtics
8. Portland Trail Blazers
9. Phoenix Suns
10. San Antonio Spurs
11. Miami Heat
12. Utah Jazz
13. Charlotte Bobcats
14. Oklahoma City Thunder
15. Milwaukee Bucks
16. Chicago Bulls

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Chicago Bulls

ANALYSIS: Well the side that #23 is on always seems to dominate this series. In the 80s and 90s, Michael Jordan was like the bogeyman in Cleveland...always being a nightmare to Cavs fans. Now, LeBron James is doing the same to Chicago residents (and Joakim Noah). Even though the season series was tied at 2-2, the Bulls won their two games by only one point. Chicago does have the historical playoff advantage, though. The last time the Cavs won against the Bulls in the playoffs was May 25, 1992 and they have lost nine straight playoff games to them.
SEASON SERIES: tied, 2-2
PREDICTION: Cavaliers in 5
MATCH-UP: LeBron James vs. Joakim Noah (who knows, maybe a little Dancing With the Stars action, lol)
PIVOTAL GAME: Game 3 (the Cavs should be up 2-0 and this will determine if this is a sweep or series)

Orlando Magic vs. Charlotte Bobcats

ANALYSIS: It's playoff time in Charlotte for the first time since 2002! May 12, 2002 was the last time the Charlotte faithful experienced a playoff game when the Hornets lost Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals to the New Jersey Nets. Ironically, the Hornets last series win in Charlotte came against the Magic in a 3-1 triumph. Two years of no basketball and six years of steady building a good franchise later, the Bobcats have arrived and this will be a battle of two of the top four defenses. Orlando scores much more, but they take more MUCH threes than their opponents (319 more made, 804 more taken). Larry Brown's teams play the right way, so in this series expect games in the mid- to high-90s.
PREDICTION: Magic in 6
MATCH-UP: Charlotte's D vs. Orlando's 3-pt shooting (Orlando has been known to live and die by the 3)
PIVOTAL GAME: Game 3 (the crowd at the Time Warner Cable Arena will be electric)

Atlanta Hawks vs. Milwaukee Bucks

ANALYSIS: You want excitement, you got excitement in this series against two up-and-coming teams. Atlanta has rapidly improved since 2007 from fluke playoff team to a solid contender, while Milwaukee looks like the team of the future. The Bucks looked dead in the water when Michael Redd went down with a season-ending injury, but since acquiring John Salmons and the All-Star Break they have been one of the best teams. Sadly, Andrew Bogut's 15.9 points and 10.2 rebounds will be missed, and for the Hawks, who like to go big, this series could end quick.
PREDICTION: Hawks in 5
MATCH-UP: Mike Bibby vs. Brandon Jennings (veteran PG vs. rookie PG)
PIVOTAL GAME: Game 1 (Can the Bucks hang?)

Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat

ANALYSIS: This is a pretty good match-up as well, as the Celtics have struggled down the stretch and Miami ended the season on a 12-1 clip to get the #5 seed. Boston is really showing its age, while injuries and rust have caused the team to go 27-27 since Christmas. Miami is all about Dwyane Wade though, but finally role players like Jermaine O'Neal and Michael Beasley are stepping up, and cannot be counted out. Looks like another series involving the phrases "Boston Celtics" and "Game 7" is going to happen.
SEASON SERIES: Celtics, 3-0
PREDICTION: Celtics in 7
MATCH-UP: The Boston Three Party (Garnett, Pierce, Allen)vs D-Wade (c'mon, need I explain?)
PIVOTAL GAME: Game 7 (Can Boston shake its rust or will someone help Wade out?)

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

ANALYSIS: Time to "Thunder Up" in OKC! Oklahoma City has been great hosts to basketball teams in the past, ask the Hornets in 2005-2007, and finally they have been paid back with a playoff appearance. However, they will take on the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers for their first match-up. MVP candidates Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant will sure electrify the crowd, but despite being healthy all year, the Thunder will be overmatched by the veteran laden Laker squad.
SEASON SERIES: Lakers, 3-1
PREDICTION: Lakers in 5
MATCH-UP: Bryant vs. Durant (two of the purest shooters in the game)
PIVOTAL GAME: Game 3 (1st playoff game in Oklahoma City)

Dallas Mavericks vs. San Antonio Spurs

ANALYSIS: This is the best first-round match-up hands down. Dallas and San Antonio met in the playoffs four times in the 2000s, with both teams winning two series apiece. This year, the Mavericks have been energized with the trade for Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood, but the Spurs cannot be counted out in the playoffs, regardless of record. Looks like this "I-35 series" will be another one for the books, and expect seven games because anything less will be a shame.
SEASON SERIES: Mavericks, 3-1
PREDICTION: Mavericks in 7
MATCH-UP: The Big 3's of both teams (Dirk, Caron, and Kidd vs. Duncan, Manu, and Parker)
PIVOTAL GAME: Game 7 (you know its bound to happen)

Phoenix Suns vs. Portland Trail Blazers

ANALYSIS: Phoenix is most definitely back to its run-and-gun days, scoring at will against anyone. Portland is the exact opposite, a very good defensive team. However, injuries have ravaged the Blazers this season, with Greg Oden, Joel Przybilla, and now Brandon Roy all going down and unavailable until next season. Portland has kept afloat all season, but in order to win here they need to hold the Suns into fewer than 100 points. If they do that, Portland will gut it out and win this series. If not, it would be a good effort for a team that endured so much.
SEASON SERIES: Trail Blazers, 2-1
PREDICTION: Trail Blazers in 7
MATCH-UP: Amare Stoudemire vs. Marcus Camby (Offensive Big v. Defensive Big)
PIVOTAL GAME: Game 1 (Can the undermanned Blazers keept up with the pace?)

Denver Nuggets vs. Utah Jazz

ANALYSIS: Playing with heavy hearts for their coach George Karl, Denver is trying to build on their strong showing from last year, while Utah is trying to see if Carlos Boozer can play Game 1 and trying to prepare for the fact that Andrei Kirilenko will not play in this series. Since the trade to get Chauncey Billups in 2008, the Nuggets have become a great team, but everyone seems to sleep on Utah because they play the right way. This series should be a dandy, with good balance of the starters and bench players from both teams.
SEASON SERIES: Nuggets, 2-1
PREDICTION: Nuggets in 6
MATCH-UP: J.R. Smith vs. Paul Millsap (Great 6th men: the shooter vs. the rebounder)
PIVOTAL GAME: Game 5 (this series can be tied 2-2 at this point, the winner here will most likely win the series)