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TSS NBA Playoffs Preview: The First Round

By / 04.17.09

There’s no season like the post season and this rings especially true come time for the NBA Playoffs.  Around this time of year basketball heads nationwide crowd around TV’s to witness the best players in the world go at it. The Associations Spring classic has yielded some memorable moments: most of them being at Patrick Ewing’s expense in the ’90s.  But in all seriousness, the Playoffs provide drama, suspense and possible conspiracy theories worthy of a best selling novel.

The playoffs also call for self proclaimed basketball experts to foretell who’ll take the chip along with proposed sweeps, dark horses, and flops in between. The Crew’s resident basketball heads decided to throw in their 2¢ in on how the rounds will play out.

So read up and don’t get mad when you find out we’re right.

Eastern Conference

#1 Cleveland Cavaliers Vs. #8 Detroit Pistons

S. Cadet — Cavs In 6: These are not the Pistons of old by any means. However, that doesn’t mean the Cavs will roll by them that easily. They’ll go down fighting but their second team will be their weak link aside from AI. Speaking of, I wonder what Joe Dumars will do about lil’ homey this summer.

Jesse H. — Cavs In 4: The Cavs should steamroll the inconsistent Pistons, who haven’t looked like themselves all season and are stumbling into the playoffs under .500. Look for LeBron to solidify his impressive case for MVP, as the Cavs continue their magic streak with home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.

Patrick M. — Cavs In 4: The Cavs beat them in 6 in 2007 when the Pistons were far superior and the Cavs and LeBron were an adolescent team. Hey at least the Lions have the number one pick.

MZ — Cavs In 6: The worst 1st round match-up for Lebron & Co. because the Pistons are a veteran group with tons of playoff experience, along with the fact A.I. isn’t in the mix anymore. The Pistons have no chance of beating the Cavaliers, but they will make it a rough series and the residual damage could show up later for Cleveland.

#2 Boston Celtics Vs. #7 Chicago Bulls

S. Cadet — Celtics In 6: Patrick M. gave me the news about KG and it hurt my heart. The Bulls aren’t a threat on the inside but expect Derrick Rose and Ben Gordon to step it up against Boston’s frontcourt. Boston will prevail on depth and Paul Pierce’s ability to get to the line in the 4th.

Jesse H. — Celtics In 5: The C’s made things difficult for themselves last year, and that was with KG. But even though Paul Pierce is playing with the passion of Christ, the Bulls’ Derrick Rose and Ben Gordon could give them some trouble.

Patrick M. — Celtics In 5: I’m not going to lie, as a Celtics fan I really did not want to face the up and coming Bulls, who’ve been hot (14-7 in their last 21,) and have really come together since settling on a rotation post-trade (Luol Deng’s injury helped) deadline. And that was before KG was out. But Chicago still doesn’t have anyone who can guard Pierce or Allen.

MZ — Celtics In 5: Garnett will be out, but Pierce, Allen, & Rondo should be able to rely on their experience to get past this young Bulls team. The Bulls only chance is to try to take advantage of Garnett not monitoring the paint, however the Celtics have enough big bodies to rotate in.

#3 Orlando Magic Vs. #6 Philadelphia 76ers

S. Cadet — Magic In 6: Orlando made some much needed strides in their mid range game this season. Add strong defense and a reputation as one the league’s best rebounding squads and it’s evident that the Magic got the edge. Cam’ron told me Andre Miller got a basic game but he’s bound to ball; it just won’t be enough for the semi’s like last year.

Jesse H. –Magic In 5: Dwight Howard proved with his gargantuan season (20.6 ppg, 13.8 rpg) that there is no better big man in the league. His Magic should handle the toothless Sixers with relative ease.

Patrick M. –Magic In 5: The Magic should have locked up the 2 seed, but faded down the stretch, although doing so allowed them to match up with the weaker 76ers. Superman Jr. and company will at least be ready to dismiss Philly’s Best.

MZ — Magic In 5: There’s no Krypto-Nate in Philly and Superman will reign supreme. The Magic are too balanced with Howard inside and Lewis/Turkoglu patrolling the perimeter.

#4 Atlanta Hawks Vs. #6 Miami Heat:

S. Cadet — Heat In 7: This will be the best first round series in the conference. The Hawks have an athletic starting 5 with more playoff experience going in than last year. While Miami is banged up expect Wade to keep playing MVP worthy ball that’ll push his squad to the semis. JO’s performance will be pivotal to their success in the end as well.

Jesse H. — Heat In 6: The Heat won’t have home court advantage in this down-South battle, but they will have their MVP contender Dwyane Wade, who put up skyscraping statistics (30.2 ppg, 7.5 apg) to keep the Heat in the thick of things this season. The Hawks may have owned them in head-to-head match-ups this season, but an amped Wade will be the X-Factor in this series.

Patrick M. — Hawks In 6: The best first round series, Atlanta has the far better team and home court advantage, but Miami has Flash, who’s good for at least two games by himself. Miami’s total lack of big men with the sneakily underrated Udonis Haslem banged up, and the totally D-U-N Jermaine O’Neil.

MZ — Hawks in 7: The Hawks won the season series and they have more than enough talent to beat Dwayne Wade The Heat. Wade, who’s been masterful this season and will make the Heat more competitive than they should be, but Atlanta almost beat Boston last year.

Western Conference

#1 Los Angeles Lakers Vs. # 8 Utah Jazz:

S. Cadet — Lakers In 5: Kobe n’ em will make short work of the Jazz. It just hasn’t been their year plus the Lake Show has been rockin’ since Bynum came back. The Jazz are good enough to grab a game in Mormonville but that’s about it.

Jesse H. — Lakers In 4: While Deron Williams remains the one of the NBA’s best kept secrets (19.4 ppg, 10.7 apg), his Jazz won’t be enough to stop the Kobe & Co. show.

Patrick M. — Lakers In 5: Utah gave the Fakers the most trouble last year of any playoff team (at least until Boston raped them harder than…well you know … in the Finals.) But the Boozer-Deron Williams combo looks like a one year wonder rather than a long-term contending tandem.

MZ — Lakers In 6: This would be a sweep it wasn’t for the Jazz’s above average home court average. Blame it on the altitude in what should be a high scoring affair. Deron Wiliams is one of the leagues best point guards, but Kobe is one of the leagues best players.

#2 Denver Nuggets Vs. # 7 New Orleans Hornets

S. Cadet — Nuggets In 6: We all know the story going into this one: the Hornets got worse while Denver made humongous strides this year. With that said it’ll be a captivating series for two reasons. We’ll get to see if the Posey experiment will work against Carmelo and you’ll have two premiere point guards on CP3 and Ratfaced Chauncey goin’ at it. New Orleans’ lack of chemistry will be their downfall.

Jesse H. — Hornets In 7: If there’s an upset to look for in the first round, this is it. Despite Denver’s threats- Chauncy Billups and Carmelo Anthony- the Hornets should come away with this one. Chris Paul has put together MVP-esque stats, and the Hornets have proven themselves legitimate contenders with their performance in last years playoffs.

Patrick M. — Nuggets In 7: The other series, along with Miami-Atlanta, where one player (CP3) could lead his inferior team to an upset. Unfortunately for Paul, he’s not going to benefit from the shady refereeing that Kobe, LeBron, and D. Wade get.

MZ — Nuggets In 7: Denver has been the quietest team all season in terms of coverage and that’s in part to Chauncey Billups calming influence. Him and Chris Paul should cancel each other out to some degree, with Carmelo Anthony being the difference.

#3 San Antonio Spurs Vs. #6 Dallas Mavericks

S. Cadet — Spurs In 6: This series goes to a hard fought 6 games since Ginobili is out and Dallas has gotten it together in the past month. They’ve won 7 of their last 10 and I expect them to ride that wave into the playoffs. San Antonio will squeak by on Tony Parker’s play down the stretch. And it seems that he loves to style on Kidd whenever they matchup.

Jesse H. — Spurs In 6: This matchup features two aging teams that insist on playing their style ball in a league that’s increasingly not tailored for them any longer. Look for Tim Duncan and Tony Parker to win this round, but don’t expect the Spurs to hang around as long as they usually do.

Patrick M. — Mavericks In 6: Could we finally be seeing the end of the Spurs run? One can only hope. Tony Parker will destroy Kidd, repeatedly, but no Manu and a banged up Duncan is the death of this dynasty.

MZ — Mavericks In 7: The Spurs have won all of their titles in odd years, but it won’t happen this year. Ginobli is out and age is starting to get the best of Duncan’s knees. The trio of Kidd, Nowitzki, & Terry should be enough for Dallas to advance.

#4 Portland Trailblazers Vs. #5 Houston Rockets

S. Cadet — Rockets In 7: This is the year that the Rockets finally break the first round curse. Portland is a good jump shooting team but the Rockets have solid perimeter defense. Expect Yao to have a field day on Oden aside from some expected highlight reel worthy blocks.

Jesse H. — Rockets In 6: Neither team is an attractive pick to go very far in this year’s playoffs, but Yao and the Rockets should prevail for this round.

Patrick M. — Rockets In 6: If Houston makes it out of the first round while Tracy McGrady is hurt, does that mean his first round curse is broken? Or does it just seal the deal on him as one of the biggest losers ever? We’re about to find out.

MZ — Trailblazers In 6: The Rockets can’t get out the 1st Round with McGrady and Yao, so this will be hard with out him. They’ll be relying on Yao and Portland has enough big bodies to nag him. Look for Brandon Roy to shine.

Stay tuned for the later rounds…

Previously Posted — “Can’t Beat Us, Join Us…” | Video: New NBA Playoff Spot Featuring Kanye West’s “Amazing”


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