Saturday, April 30, 2011



Chicago Bulls vs. Atlanta Hawks

ANALYSIS: The Chicago Bulls took care of the Indiana Pacers in five games, but it certainly was not easy. Indiana gave the Bulls a run for their money in every game except the deciding Game 5. If Chicago wants to advance even further in the playoffs, Carlos Boozer needs to improve on his offense from the first round (10.0 PPG on 35.8 percent shooting).

The Atlanta Hawks finally defeated a top-tier team in the Orlando Magic, but there is still cause for concern. The Hawks blew a chance to close out Orlando in Game 5, but lost by 25 before beating the Magic in six games. If Atlanta can play like they did for most of the first round and actually show up, they can give the Bulls some fits.

Bulls won, 2-1

PREDICTION: Bulls in 5

KEY MATCHUP: Joakim Noah vs. Al Horford (The two former championship-winning teammates at Florida square off the rights to reach the NBA’s “Final Four”. It will be interesting to see them both battle it out for rebounds in the paint.)

Game 1 (Are the Bulls ready for the spotlight? Were Chicago’s struggles with Indiana a factor of the Pacers playing hard or the Bulls taking them lightly? Can the Hawks exercise their second round demons? There are so many burning questions here.)

Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics

ANALYSIS: The Miami Heat passed their first test with flying colors and now are “ready for lunch,” according to LeBron James. In its 4-1 first round victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, Miami held their opponent to 86.6 points per game and the Big Three looked well together, with each getting a double-double in Game 5. However, The Heat’s only concern is who takes the last shot. They better figure it out in a hurry, because this series will have a good share of close games.

The Boston Celtics achieved a first in the Big Three era when they swept the New York Knicks in the first round. Manhandling a Knicks squad that had Amar’e Stoudemire dinged up and Chauncey Billups unavailable for the final three games, Boston was business as normal and executed its plan soundly. The concern here is how the Celtics will fare in this series without Kendrick Perkins. Will they dominate like they did in the first three regular season meetings or is the lone loss a sign of how this series will play out?

Celtics won, 3-1

Celtics in 6

James/Wade/Bosh vs. Pierce/Allen/Garnett (This is the marquee matchup that everyone wants to see. Whichever team’s terrific trio stands out more and gets more help from role players has the best chance to win.)

Game 5 (If the series is tied at 2-2, whoever wins this game will likely win this series.)


Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Memphis Grizzlies

ANALYSIS: The Oklahoma City Thunder won their first playoff series since moving away from Seattle after putting away Denver in 5 games. Kevin Durant showed every reason why he is considered to be an elite player in the NBA with his 32.4 points per game in the series and a 41-point Game 5. Durant and Russell Westbrook must learn work together though if the Thunder want to continue to grow and reach their potential.

The Memphis Grizzlies stunned most basketball fans with its six-game upset over the San Antonio Spurs, the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed. Memphis clearly was not affected with the loss of Rudy Gay, as Zach Randolph stepped in and put the team on his back with 21.5 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. The Grizzlies’ high energy and tough defense makes them a force not only just now, but possibly in the years to come.

Grizzlies won, 3-1

Thunder in 7

Serge Ibaka vs. Zach Randolph (Ibaka swatted shots left and right during the series against Denver, while Randolph was a huge scoring and rebounding presence against San Antonio. Does Ibaka continue with his blocks or will Randolph continue to dominate inside?)

Game 7 (This series will be high in energy and excitement. It will be a joy to watch.)

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Dallas Mavericks

ANALYSIS: The Los Angeles Lakers were able to hold off a tough and determined New Orleans Hornets team in six games during the first round. Los Angeles may have looked sluggish in Games 1 and 4 against but they showed the determination of a champion with double-digit wins in the final two games. The Lakers need Pau Gasol to bounce back from a so-so first round which he averaged 13.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.

The Dallas Mavericks survived their first round matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers thanks to their determination and Jason Kidd turning back the clock and draining down three-pointers. However, the Mavericks must close out games and not let a 23-point fourth quarter collapse happen again like it did in Game 4 against Portland. Dallas has the ability to match up well with the Lakers, so players like Tyson Chandler must establish the paint early and well.

Lakers won, 2-1

Mavericks in 6

both teams’ front lines (Many teams have not matched the Lakers’ lengthy front line of Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, but the Mavericks have their own to counter it. Tyson Chandler, Brendan Haywood and Dirk Nowitzki must be effective here.)

Games 1 and 4 (The Lakers or any Phil Jackson led-team know what a Game 1 or a Game 5 means. Phil Jackson is 48-0 whenever he wins the first game of a series. Another stat that favors the Lakers is that they are 20-0 at home in Game 5 when the series is tied 2-2. In order for Dallas to win, they must jump out ahead early or they will lose this series.)

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