San Antonio topped the Western conference and was handed a tie with Utah Jazz which in fairness should be an easy tie for Spurs. Spurs are in great form judging from their final ten games, losing only one in an impressive run. With Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili spearheading the team, added with their superior playoff experience, Utah will definitely find it difficult.
MVP - Tim Duncan
The lack of a strong opponent to contest him for rebounds and shots under the basket may prove to be Utah’s undoing. There might not be many more years in Big Tim’s legs, but his desire to add another ring to his collection more than makes up for it.
Prediction: San Antonio to win in four
Oklahoma City vs Dallas Maverricks
When Dallas picked up Lamar Odom in the off-season, it looked like highway robbery; and the addition was seen as the final piece in the jigsaw puzzle that could legitimately give them a chance of repeating last year’s championship-winning run. A season later, and it looks like an absolutely horrendous piece of business.
Oklahoma City Thunder are a young team looking to make a statement. Marvericks’ Dirk Nowitzki and company won’t let Oklahoma City have it all their way, but with the trio of Durant, Westbrook and James Harden on their books, Dallas might just find themselves overwhelmed.
MVP - Kevin Durant
There are not many better scorers in the NBA than the Thunder’s small forward. His knack to find excellent form in the playoffs could prove to be the advantage the young Oklahoma City team needs to progress into the next round.
Prediction: Thunder in six
La Lakers first round playoff tie against Denver Nuggets could be seen as an easy tie for Kobe and company, and Denver will find it hard to find someone to stop an injury-free Bryant once he hits full swing.
MVP - Andrew Bynum
Look for the Lakers centre to dominate under the basket with the Nuggets’ inferior roster failing to keep up with LA’s.
Prediction: Lakers to win in four
Memphis Grizzlies vs La Clippers
If Memphis’ Zach Randolph regains the form that he showed last year, then LA will be facing a near impossible task to overcome. The Grizzlies lost Shane Battier earlier this year to the Miami Heat, which has definitely weaken them, but the Clippers simply don’t have the perimeter shooters to take full advantage of it.
The Clippers will surely have many deep playoff runs in the future, but it is unlikely that this will be their year. Having said that, they do have Chris Paul, who has been rested well and used sparingly throughout the regular season. Paul’s ability to marshal the floor is second to none, and things could get interesting if he manages to kick into high gear for the playoffs.
MVP - Chris Paul
CP3 has the ability to deliver massive damage even when playing with an inferior supporting cast as proven by his performance for the Hornets in the last three seasons. If he can bring the same form to LA – who have a much better roster compared to the Hornets, then the Clippers might just cause an upset.
Prediction: Grizziles in six
The Chicago Bulls enter the series with the Philadelphia 76ers on the back of one of the most impressive regular season campaigns of recent memory when factoring in the plethora of injuries sustained to franchise player Derrick Rose. They’re also coming into the playoffs this year with a lot more experience and a significant upgrade in Rip Hamilton.
For the Sixers, the outlook is fairly grim. They’re a very decent team and Jrue Holiday and Andre Igoudala in particular have performed over the course of the season. But much of their success has been down to their parsimony in defense… An area where the Bulls dominate. (Allowed points per game: Bulls – 88.4, Sixers – 89.1)
MVP - Derrick Rose
He runs everything on offense and is a closer that the Bulls can rely upon. If he is operating at the top of his powers there won’t be much that Philadelphia can do about it.
Prediction: Bulls in five
Finishing second in the Eastern conference did not favour The Heat as first round playoff they go against New York Knicks. LeBron and Co. could not have asked for a better opponent as he will enjoy the match up with Carmelo Anthony but it is not the easiest. Knicks has won seven of their last ten games to earn their spot in the play-offs while Miami managed six. To Miami benefit stats wise, they have not lost to New York this season.
MVP - LeBron James
For his disappointment of losing last year’s final would drive him even more this playoff
Prediction: The tie will be decided probably by home court advantage, but it could go to game seven. Should be one of the more competitive tie with Miami winning 4-3
The Magic are coming into this series in disarray. Without Dwight Howard they’re going to have a torrid time with the long and athletic Pacers who will be led by Danny Granger and a very well drilled defence. The Magic have shot very well from the perimeter for years now and this is really the only chance that they have to win the series against a team that ranks fifth in the NBA in rebounding (43.9).
In order to fully understand the loss that Dwight Howard is to this Magic team, consider that he is the team’s leader in points, rebounds, blocks and steals per game.
MVP - Roy Hibbert
In Howard’s absence, Hibbert will absolutely abuse the Magic in the low post, swiping the lion’s share of the rebounds and making Orlando pay for each of those missed three point attempts.
Prediction: Pacers in 4
Boston finished fourth in the East but lose home court advantage to the Hawks in this tie. Both teams have similar forms coming into the playoffs which make it an interesting and competitive tie. Boston with their big four might just edge it for their vast experience as individuals and as a team in the playoffs. Hawks on the other hand needs to work on their offence to break Boston, if they could manage that they could have a chance.
MVP - Paul Pierce
Would be the man to watch in this tie, the Celtic hero has a point to prove to earn himself another NBA ring.
Prediction: Boston to win in 5 games, no more than 6
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