NBA Roundtable

Preliminary Playoff Predictions

In General NBA on April 15, 2010 at 1:02 am

My initial thoughts on the playoff seedings …

Eastern Conference

First Round

  • Cleveland vs Chicago — Cavs sweep
  • Orlando vs Charlotte — Magic win in 4 or 5
  • Atlanta vs Milwaukee — Hawks sweep
  • Boston vs Miami — could be anything

Second Round

  • Cleveland vs Boston/Miami — Cavs in 5
  • Orlando vs Atlanta — Magic in 5

Conference Finals

  • Cleveland vs Orlando — could be anything

Western Conference

First Round

  • LA Lakers vs Oklahoma — Lakers in 7
  • Dallas vs San Antonio — undecided
  • Phoenix vs Portland — Suns sweep
  • Utah vs Denver — could be anything

Second Round

  • LA Lakers vs Utah/Denver — Lakers in 5 or 6
  • Dallas/San Antonio vs Suns — Dallas or San An in 5 or 6

Conference Finals

  • Lakers vs Dallas/San Antonio — Lakers over Spurs in 5 or 6 and undecided on a Mavs-Lakers series

Notes

Eastern Conference

  • First Round — Celts vs Heat — Boston is currently displaying their worst form of the season. They’re playing at a 32-36 win level. However, in terms of talent, they’ve recently shown short spurts relative to the level of a 50 win caliber team. In summary, I have no idea which Boston team is going to show up in this series.
  • Conference Finals — Magic vs Cavs — Cleveland cannot stop Orlando’s offense if Vince + Jameer are aggressive on the pick and roll. Orlando cannot stop Cleveland’s offense either but they can do a better job of containing it. However, if Cleveland put LeBron on Vince, the Cavs can take Vince right out the series and win comfortably. However, they faced the exact same situation last year and refused to put LeBron on Hedo Turkoglu. Also, if Vince and Jameer fail to be consistently aggressive (as has been the case during large portions of the season), then Cleveland wins. So it’s anyone’s guess as to how this one plays out. Cleveland has the overall advantage but I expect them to throw that away so I’d give Orlando the edge in terms of talent.

Western Conference

  • First Round — Denver vs Utah — The disruption to Denver’s team through the injury to Kenyon Martin and the continued loss to George Karl makes this team a wild card. They could regain their earlier form or continue to struggle. If they struggle, Utah wins. If they regain their form, Denver has the advantage but not an insurmountable one.
  • First Round — Dallas vs San Antonio — Leaning towards Dallas but haven’t given it enough thought yet. A lot of talent on the table in this series. Best contest of the first round.
  • Conference Finals — Dallas vs LA — A Mavs-Lakers series will depend on Lakers’ offensive execution through their first two series. If it’s similar to how it’s been throughout the regular season then I’d give a slight advantage (largely insignificant though) to Dallas. If the Lakers begin to run their offense intelligently, then they should beat Dallas comfortably.
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  1. First Round

    Boston vs Miami

    Boston is the superior team and the most likely victor. Miami haven’t managed to beat them in three years and they are not talented enough to beat even a mediocre performance from Boston in this series. The Celtics in 5 or 6.

    Kevin Garnett can score at will over the smaller Udonis Haslem + Michael Beasley. Kendrick Perkins has been very effective against Jermaine O’Neal in the past. His excellent post defense has troubled O’Neal’s offense and he has made Jermaine work on the other end. Paul Pierce has tortured Quentin Richardson over the last several years. Another good matchup for Boston. And Rajon Rondo has a huge advantage over Miami’s point guard platoon.

    Dwyane Wade is the best player in the series but he doesn’t have enough talent alongside him to beat a quality basketball team in a seven game series. His only real hope of winning is the Celtics underperforming in a damning way. Ray Allen has struggled against Wade’s quickness and Boston’s team defense hasn’t been as strong lately as it was earlier in the year, so I would expect Wade to have a huge series — 33+ points per game and 7+ assists a night.

    Michael Beasley will have impressive scoring bursts but I reckon Garnett’s length and defensive chops will turn him into an inefficient scorer for large chunks of this series.

    I have to say, though, I am hoping the Miami Heat can pull this series out. It would be a lot of fun to watch an athletic energetic team take it right at Boston and take advantage of those old legs. I have been very disappointed with Boston’s effort + focus over the past few months, I would like to see them punished for it.

    Utah vs Denver

    The injury to Andrei Kirilenko swings the odds firmly in the Nuggets’ favour. Denver should be able to turn their huge advantage on the wings into a series wing. Nuggets in 6.

    For more on that matchup follow the above link (Kirilenko injury).

    Dallas vs San Antonio

    I’m finding it very hard to come up with a proper evaluation of the Spurs’ chances with the return of Tony Parker. How healthy is he? At how high a level will he be able to play at following his long layoff? How much disruption will his return cause to the rest of his teammates?

    San Antonio’s three main guns have good matchups. Well, Duncan’s life could be made difficult by the Haywood + Dampier combination … but Manu Ginobili (Caron Butler too slow to defend Manu, Marion is a good defensive matchup but Manu has been successful against him in the past) and Tony Parker (destroyed Kidd in recent years) have excellent matchups both against their man defenders + against Dallas’ sub-par pick and roll defense. Those two should be able to create a lot of havoc against the Mavericks defense.

    Meanwhile, the Spurs cannot effectively defend Dirk Nowitzki. McDyess, Bonner and Blair are all below average man-to-man defenders and struggle against a quick long and highly skilled offensive opponent like Dirk Nowitzki. That leaves Tim Duncan and there is no way that Duncan can defend Dirk’s face up game anymore.

    Furthermore, the Spurs cannot matchup against any small ball lineup so when Dallas shifts Shawn Marion to the power forward spot, the Spurs will have major troubles at that four spot. The good news here is that Tim Duncan would have a good matchup against Dirk in the post offensively + Kidd would shift onto Ginobili (good matchup for Manu) and a point guard will enter and defend Parker (Barea + Terry are good matchups for TP while Beaubois could create problems for Parker on both ends of the court). The Spurs, outside of Tim Duncan, would have problems against the Mavs on the backboards.

    Overall, Dallas are a very good defensive team but a mediocre offensive team. San Antonio are a solid defensive team and a very good offensive team. Both are excellent rebounding squads. In terms of collective talent, not a lot separates either side.

    I think Dallas is the better team, by a small margin, but I like San Antonio’s matchups in the backcourt more than their matchup advantages. I think San Antonio will have an easier time scoring and that they can make Dirk’s teammates lives difficult on the other end of the floor.

    Still … there is that Tony Parker injury … if Parker cannot dominate, and I mean dominate, this series … then Dallas should win. If Parker can be a dominant scorer, then I prefer the Spurs chances.

    So, I think this series hinges on Parker’s health. On him being fully healthy and playing at his best. And since I have no idea whether he is capable of that or not … I have no idea who will win this series.

  2. Hi Dave, long time I’ve not commented anything here but guess since it’s the playoffs this has to be right time to do so.

    My personal interest will lean more towards the Dallas/Spurs series as it’s got to be the best of them all. I think the Spurs will win this one in 7 games.

    Manu is back, much healthier and perhaps playing his best basketball in like 2 years or so. If there is a time for the Spurs to rise to the occasion, that time is now. They always come alive in the playoffs, to write them is simply at your own peril.

    I know Dallas with the Dirk/Kidd combo can do a lot of damage and a lot will be expected for them. But time and time again, come the post season they will seems to choke when it really matters.

    That’s just my opinion. It will be a close call between these two but certainly a classic encounter.

  3. Hey John, long time no talk, good to hear from you!

    Yeah, the Spurs vs Mavs series looks like a brilliant matchup. I think it’ll be the best series in the first round. Very excited about watching these two teams go at one another.

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