Monday, April 30, 2012


Chicago Bulls vs. Philadelphia 76ers
SEASON SERIES: Bulls won 2-1
ANALYSIS: The Chicago Bulls won the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed for the second year in a row despite nagging injuries to reigning Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose. Limited to 39 games, Rose only averaged 21.8 points and 7.9 assists per game but never missed a beat thanks to their stifling defense. The Bulls gave up 88.2 points per game and had a defensive rating—points per 100 possessions—of 98.3, both lower than last season.

The Philadelphia 76ers looked as if they would take a huge leap forward after leading the Atlantic Division for most of the year, but they faded all the way down to the No. 8 seed following a 20-9 start to the season. They started so hot thanks to their defense as it allowed 89.4 points per game and 99.2 per 100 possessions—both good for third in the NBA. However, their 15-24 finish was a cause of not having enough offense. Lou Williams led Philadelphia with 14.9 points per game and Andre Iguodala continued to be a good, all-around player.
PREDICTION: Bulls in 5.

Miami Heat vs. New York Knicks
SEASON SERIES: Heat won 3-0
ANALYSIS: The Miami Heat is a team on a mission after losing in the NBA Finals last year. Miami is again the No. 2 seed in the East, but they are still a juggernaut on both sides of the ball. Leading that charge is LeBron James, who could be the favorite to this year’s MVP award. James averaged 27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 1.9 steals this year as he, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh seek the elusive title that slipped away last year.

The New York Knicks had a crazy season, but then again, what else would you expect from the Big Apple? A coaching change, the rise of an unknown player, two stars still trying to mesh, you name it! But the Knicks have played well as of late—going 18-6 and playing better defense under Mike Woodson. Carmelo Anthony’s 22.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game is good, but he has turned his game up this April by averaging 29.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.  
PREDICTION: Heat in 6.

Indiana Pacers vs. Orlando Magic
SEASON SERIES: Magic won 3-1
ANALYSIS: Since taking over midway during the 2010-11 season, Frank Vogel has coached up the Indiana Pacers to a very good young team with much potential. This season, they jumped all the way up to the No. 3 seed in the East, thanks to a solid core of players who stayed healthy for most of the season. Danny Granger had 18.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, while All-Star Roy Hibbert improved his offensive rebounding and swatted away 128 shots.

The Orlando Magic finished with the No. 6 seed in the East, but they had to suffer through a “Dwightmare” to get to it. While Dwight Howard was a bit of a distraction off of the court, he played well on the court. However, he will miss the playoffs due to his back. However, Ryan Anderson will pick up the slack left behind by Howard. Anderson improved his game this season by averaging 16.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, while being a great 3-point shooter in the process.
PREDICTION: Pacers in 5.

Boston Celtics vs. Atlanta Hawks
SEASON SERIES: Celtics won 2-1
ANALYSIS: Nearly left for dead at the All-Star break, the Boston Celtics staved off a rebuilding phase at the trading deadline to win their fifth consecutive Atlantic Division title. Boston continues to have the experience in its terrific trio of Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, but it is Rajon Rondo who continues to progress as one of the NBA’s elite point guards. During his current 23-game streak with at least 10 assists, Rondo is averaging 13.8 dimes, 9.8 points and 1.9 steals per game.

The Atlanta Hawks are back yet again in the playoffs and they will have home-court advantage in this series. The Hawks allowed the sixth fewest points this season (93.2 PPG) and will be looking to advance into the second round for the fourth straight year. To do so, Atlanta will look to the complete game of Josh Smith, who averaged 18.8 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game.
PREDICTION: Celtics in 6.

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