Monday, May 28, 2012


Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics

SEASON SERIES: Celtics won 3-1
ANALYSIS: The Miami Heat withstood everything that the Indiana Pacers could throw at them, but turned up the pressure in the last three games to win in six. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were able to take over in the last three games averaging 65.7 points to offset the loss of Chris Bosh. Having Bosh back would certainly help the Heat, but for the meanwhile, James and Wade will need scoring help.

It took a tough seven game series, but the Boston Celtics defeated an up-and-coming Philadelphia 76ers squad who could be special down the road. Making it to its third East Final in five years, this could be the last hurrah for Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce together as teammates, but they are ready for one last run at a title. Avery Bradley’s defense will be missed, but Rajon Rondo will look to get timely steals and incorporate everyone on offense.

PG: Mario Chalmers vs. Rajon Rondo 
ADVANTAGE: Rajon Rondo (Celtics)
-Rondo is continuing his strong play this season in the playoffs, leading all players in playoff steals (32) and assists per game (12.3). His triple-double against the Sixers (18 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists) in Game 7 was his third this postseason and he will look to get everyone involved. Chalmers had his best game in Game 3 against Indiana with 25 points and five assists but Rondo will have the better advantage.

SG: Dwyane Wade vs. Ray Allen 
ADVANTAGE: Dwyane Wade (Heat)
-Both players have had their struggles in the playoffs this year, but Wade is on fire thanks to his recent streak of games. After scoring just five points in Game 3 against Indiana, Wade closed out the last three games with an average of 33.0 points and 7.3 rebounds while shooting 40-for-65 from the field. Allen is battling through injuries and a rough shooting stretch, but he showed that he can still be reliable with two 3-pointers in Game 7 against Philadelphia in the fourth quarter.

SF: LeBron James vs. Paul Pierce 
ADVANTAGE: LeBron James (Heat)
-In what should be the best position battle in this series, James will take an edge here in the showdown of future hall-of-famers. Defensively, both James and Pierce performed well this postseason, but how they stop each other will tell everything. The 2011-12 MVP comes into this series averaging 29.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game, while Pierce is averaging 19.3 points and 6.9 rebounds.

PF: Bosh/Battier vs. Brandon Bass 
ADVANTAGE: Bosh (if he plays), Bass (if Bosh does not play)
-With Bosh’s status still up in the air for this series, it looks as if Battier will start against Bass at power forward until Bosh returns. Bass has shown that he can step up when needed in the playoffs, thanks to his 11.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. However, his 27 points and six rebounds sparked Boston in Game 5 against the 76ers. The Heat were able to get by the Pacers without Bosh, but they still missed his post presence. Battier only shot 21.2 percent from the field against Indiana, but he is mostly used for his defense and a needed 3-pointer.

C: Ronny Turiaf vs. Kevin Garnett 
ADVANTAGE: Kevin Garnett (Celtics)
-Sitting at 15-17 at the All-Star break, Doc Rivers made the move to start Garnett at center instead of his normal power forward position. As a result, Garnett and the Celtics finished the season strong and he currently averages 19.2 points and 10.8 rebounds per game this postseason. Turiaf would get the start and Joel Anthony gets more minutes, but I do not think either can slow down KG.

BENCH: Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics
-Let me preface this by saying that the bench battle in this series may not be pretty, but Miami should have the advantage here especially when Chris Bosh is able to come back and reclaim his starting role. Avery Bradley’s season-ending injury hurts Boston’s bench because there is no scoring punch since Ray Allen starts in place of Bradley. Mickael Pietrus leads the Celtic bench with 3.7 points per game this postseason—a stat that must improve.

PREDICTION: Heat in 6.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

SEASON SERIES: Spurs won 2-1
ANALYSIS: The San Antonio Spurs have rolled right along the 2012 NBA Playoffs with sweeps of the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers, all while maintaining an 18-game winning streak since losing to the Los Angeles Lakers on Apr. 11. The Spurs have had solid contributions from their three key players—Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker—while still being able to manage each of their minutes thanks to a deep bench and other role players.

Making it to consecutive West Finals for the first time since 1978-1980, the Oklahoma City Thunder are hoping that last season’s loss to the Dallas Mavericks enables them to grow even more and possibly make the Finals. Oklahoma City only lost one game against the last two teams to put them out of the playoffs en route to this stage. First All-NBA selection Kevin Durant continues to improve his standing as one of the NBA’s elite players, while Russell Westbrook and 2011-12 Sixth Man of the Year James Harden are both great players that make this trio as terrific as they are.

PG: Tony Parker vs. Russell Westbrook
-The fellow 2011-12 All-NBA Second Teamers square off in this round with a contrast in styles. Parker likes to get his teammates involved more, while Westbrook is a bit more aggressive with his offensive game. The key in this one will be how one performs defensively and limits the other. Parker torched Oklahoma City for 42 points and nine assists on Feb. 4, but both players played well in their Mar. 16 tilt—a Spurs win.

SG: Danny Green vs. Thabo Sefolosha
ADVANTAGE: Danny Green (Spurs)
-Although these two may have a small impact in this series, it may be one to hardly ignore. Green did not become a starter until Feb. 8, but he has provided 3-point shooting and good defense for San Antonio since then. Sefolosha’s stats are not that impressive, but what does not make the stat sheet—his perimeter defense—is something that helps out the Thunder.

SF: Kawhi Leonard vs. Kevin Durant
ADVANTAGE: Kevin Durant (Thunder)
-Like Green, Leonard is another good defender that San Antonio has. However, this could be his biggest test in this year’s playoffs as he will likely guard Durant. The runner-up to this year’s MVP award is averaging 26.7 points and 8.1 rebounds this postseason while not scoring less than 22 in that stretch. Leonard does one stat going for him, Durant only averaged 22.7 points against San Antonio this season—more than five points below his regular season average.

PF: Tim Duncan vs. Serge Ibaka
ADVANTAGE: Tim Duncan (Spurs)
-Ibaka has been a great shot blocking machine this season, turning away a league-high 241 shots and recording the 10-block plateau three times this season. But what happens when he plays against a rejuvenated Duncan? Duncan looks as if he has really turned back the clock in the playoffs. With the Spurs’ deep bench, rarely being in a closely contested game and the two sweeps, it is beneficial to Duncan, who only averaged 32.0 minutes this postseason but has his lowest defensive rating since 2003.

C: Boris Diaw vs. Kendrick Perkins
ADVANTAGE: Kendrick Perkins (Thunder)
-Diaw has seen it all this year. He started the season with the Charlotte Bobcats, but he signed with the Spurs two days after being waived from Charlotte on Mar. 21. However, I think Perkins’ championship experience wins out here. Mainly a defensive center, Perkins has come through with 14 blocks of his own and 5.9 rebounds per game this postseason.

BENCH: San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
ADVANTAGE: San Antonio Spurs
-While Manu Ginobili and James Harden are two of the top sixth men in the NBA right now, the Spurs deep bench might be one of the best in the NBA. Ginobili leads the group with 11.3 points per game this postseason, while players like Stephen Jackson and Gary Neal can provide good scoring off of the bench. Oklahoma City does have Harden averaging 17.0 points and 5.0 rebounds in the playoffs. Derek Fisher’s veteran leadership and Nick Collison’s hard-nosed defense will help the Thunder. Whichever team’s bench performs better, it has a good job of winning the game. 

PREDICTION: Spurs in 6.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


San Antonio Spurs vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Spurs won 2-1
Spurs in 5

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Thunder won 2-1.
In a rematch of last year’s Western Conference Finals, the Oklahoma City Thunder wasted no time in making quick work of the defending champion Dallas Mavericks with a sweep. 2011-12 MVP runner-up Kevin Durant was instrumental in the series as he set the tone with his Game 1 game-winner. Durant averaged 26.5 points and 7.5 rebounds against the Lakers, while James Harden’s 29 points in the series finale allowed the Thunder to get revenge from last postseason.

The Los Angeles Lakers battled through a tough seven-game series with the Denver Nuggets, where they were tested by an athletic, tough team. Kobe Bryant was again has normal self, averaging 29.1 points in the series, while Andrew Bynum had a great time staying out of foul trouble. Bynum tied a playoff high with 10 blocks in Game 1 en route to a triple-double. However, the Lakers showed that they missed Metta World Peace and he rewarded them with 15 points and four steals in Game 7.
Thunder in 6.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers
SEASON SERIES: Heat won 3-1.
ANALYSIS: The Miami Heat had little to no problem in dispatching the New York Knicks in five games in the first round. 2011-12 NBA Most Valuable Player LeBron James continued his strong season by averaging 27.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.6 assists against the Knicks, while also collecting 11 steals. Not to be outdone, Dwyane Wade had 14 steals and six blocks, while adding 21.0 points per game this postseason.

The Indiana Pacers took the next step in growing after defeating the Dwight Howard-less Orlando Magic in five games. Roy Hibbert was able to take advantage of the Magic’s hole at center by averaging 11.0 points and 10.8 rebounds per game in the series. Most importantly, it was Hibbert’s nine-block performance in Game 1 that set the tone to him having 19 blocks against Orlando. Danny Granger provided the offense that Indiana needed in the series by averaging 21.4 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.
PREDICTION: Heat in 5.

Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers
SEASON SERIES: 76ers won 2-1.
ANALYSIS: The Boston Celtics once again made it past the first round for the fifth year in a row after defeating the Atlanta Hawks in six games behind the efforts of their four key players—Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo. Garnett turned back the clock to his Minnesota Timberwolves days by averaging 18.7 points and 10.5 assists per game against the Hawks—including an impressive stat line of 28 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks in Game 6. Rondo may have snapped a 28-game streak of double-digit assists in Game 6, but his 11.8 assists per game this postseason was tops in the first round. However, the most impressive thing was his 17 steals in the series—also the most in the first round.

The Philadelphia 76ers became the fifth No. 8 seed to beat a No. 1 after their six-game series win against the Chicago Bulls—their first since 2003. The Sixers gave up 103 and 92 points in Games 1 and 2, respectively, but went back to their early-season defensive roots and allowed 77.8 points per game in the final four games. Jrue Holiday averaged 18.2 points and 5.2 rebounds to give Philadelphia just enough of a scoring punch against the Bulls and Elton Brand provided the defense with 15 blocks.
PREDICTION: Celtics in 6.