The NBA playoffs begin Saturday, and while both the Knicks and Nets finished closer to last than to the playoffs (the Nets having been last in the conference) the show will go on. There are four match-ups that will begin this weekend, and I’m going to give my prediction for each series.
#1 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. #8 Chicago Bulls
Lebron James may have sat back and watched the Cavs play their last 4 games of the regular season, but don’t expect him to be rusty. Shaq is coming back from a thumb injury and is said to be in great shape. With Lebron having the experience of O’Neal on his side, the Cavs are the favorite to represent the East.
Cleveland in 5
#2 Orlando Magic vs. #7 Charlotte Bobcats
Vince Carter and Dwight Howard are going to be just too much for Charlotte to handle. Charlotte does have some depth at the Center position to help contain Dwight Howard (Tyrus Thomas, Tyson Chandler, Theo Ratliff) but none of them can contain Dwight one on one. Look for this to open up the 3-point shot for a team that broke the NBA record (841) for most 3 pointers in a season.
Orlando in 5
#3 Atlanta Hawks vs. #6 Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks without Andrew Bogut are not nearly as effective as they were with him. Brandon Jennings has been outstanding as a rookie all season, but he can’t and won’t do it by himself. Joe Johnson and friends are too strong for the Buck to be able to make this a series without Bogut. Atlanta will roll.
Atlanta in 5
#4 Boston Celtics vs. #5 Miami Heat
Part of me wants to pick Miami. Boston hasn’t played well all season. They’re old, yet have preached all season that they can turn on the switch once the playoffs begin. We’ll see if that is going to be the case. While I think Dwyane Wade and the rest of the Heat will win a few games, I don’t think they can hold off the Celtics. They make squeak by the Heat, but they’ll have the Cavs in Round 2.
Boston in 7
This sets up for all the higher seeds to advance and will match-up Cleveland and Boston along with Orlando and Atlanta in the conference semi’s.
What are everyone else’s predicticions for the 1st round?