Saturday, May 1, 2010


1. Cleveland Cavaliers
2. Orlando Magic
3. Los Angeles Lakers
4. San Antonio Spurs
5. Boston Celtics
6. Phoenix Suns
7. Utah Jazz
8. Atlanta Hawks/Milwaukee Bucks

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics
ANALYSIS: These two teams know each other all too well. The last time the LeBrons faced the Boston Three Party in the playoff was in a thrilling seven-game series in the 2008 Eastern Conference Semifinals, with an even exciting Game 7. LeBron James and Paul Pierce matched 40-point performances, but it was the Celtics prevailing en route to their 17th NBA championship. Now, the Cavaliers have Shaquille O'Neal and Antwan Jamison to help out LeBron as he looks for that elusive title. Both teams dispatched their opponents in five games to get here, so expect another knockdown, drag-out fight that will go seven.
SEASON SERIES: tied, 2-2
PREDICTION: Cavaliers in 7
MATCH-UP: LeBron, Shaq, & Jamison vs. Pierce, Garnett, and Allen (The big three players)
PIVOTAL GAME: Game 7 (like in 2008, the home team could win every game in this series)

Orlando Magic vs. Atlanta Hawks/Milwaukee Bucks
ANALYSIS: The Orlando Magic are looking dominant this postseason after a sweep of the Charlotte Bobcats in the first round. The amazing thing is that they were able to do this with Dwight Howard being limited to foul trouble. Expect him to play a bigger role in this series, against either one of these two teams, especially against the Bucks without Andrew Bogut. The Hawks' immaturity and lack of winning on the road against a quality opponent could doom them in the end, and the Bucks' inexperience could do the same thing.
SEASON SERIES: (ORL/ATL) Magic, 3-1; (ORL/MIL) Magic, 3-0
PREDICTION: (ORL/ATL) Magic in 4, (ORL/MIL) Magic in 4
MATCH-UP: the point guards (Nelson vs. Bibby/Jennings)
PIVOTAL GAME: Game 1 (Will the Magic be rusty? Will Atlanta or Milwaukee be tired?)

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Utah Jazz
ANALYSIS: The undermanned Utah Jazz shocked the Denver Nuggets in six games, while the Los Angeles Lakers were nearly shocked by the Oklahoma City Thunder, needing a crucial putback shot by Pau Gasol to not force a seventh game. This will be the third straight year that these teams will do battle in the playoffs, and the Lakers won on their road to the NBA Finals the previous two years. It will be difficult for the Jazz to try to reverse that trend this year, with them severely lacking size with no lengthy option to counteract Gasol, Bynum, and Odom...but as always true with a Jerry Sloan team, the team never gives up and plays hard.
SEASON SERIES: Lakers, 3-1
PREDICTION: Lakers in 5
MATCH-UP: Boozer and Millsap vs. Gasol, Bynum, and Odom (the battle of the bigs)
PIVOTAL GAME: Game 3 (Kirilenko wants to come back then)

Phoenix Suns vs. San Antonio Spurs
ANALYSIS: The rivalry continues! Two anomalies stand out here: 1) a No.7 seed is actually a dangerous team in the playoffs. 2) The Suns actually won a game without scoring 100 points! (They won 99-90 in Game 6 against Portland.) As always though in this series, it's all about the pace of the game. A fast pace favors the Suns, and a slow pace favors the Spurs. Whoever can control the pace of the game, wins this series.
SEASON SERIES: Suns, 2-1 (home team won every game)
PREDICTION: Spurs in 6
MATCH-UP: Parker vs. Nash (they will determine the pace of this series)
PIVOTAL GAME: Game 1 (What style and pace this series will have will be dictated here)

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