VIEWS: 0 PAGES: 2 POSTED ON: 2/10/2012
st seeded Chicago Bulls (-3500) vs. 8th seeded Indiana Pacers (+1900)First year coach Tom Thibodeau led the Bulls to 62 wins which is the most since the Jordan era. They will have a home court advantage throughout the entire postseason for having the most wins in the NBA. Derrick Rose will likely be the league MVP and would be the youngest ever to receive the award. Chicago sported one of the league’s best defenses and is a nightmare matchup for any team they come across. Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer bring length and physical presence which will be shown against Indiana’s Roy Hibbert who can bring it offensively. Luol Deng also had a great year on the wing and plays solid defense.Although the Pacers don’t look all that bad on paper, they are the only team to make the playoffs with a losing record and will undoubtedly have their hands full. They will look to counter speed with some speed of their own as super quick PG Darren Collison will do what he can do contain Rose. Danny Granger has become Indiana’s go to guy and truly possesses great offensive talent. Granger can slash to the hoop, has range on his shot and can pull up off the dribble so it will be interesting to see how Luol Deng decides to defend him. When it’s all said and done, Chicago is a far superior team and Indiana may have to call it a moral victory if they don’t get swept. However backing an NBA team at -3500 is not something that I’d be willing to do regardless of the situation.2nd seeded Miami Heat (-2000) vs. 7th seeded Philadelphia 76ers (+1200)This is what we’ve all been waiting for, isn’t it? This is the chance for the Heat to silence all of their critics. After the infamous free agent signings of this past summer, many people were dying to get a chance to see this team go 82-0 and take home championship after championship. But after a season with more up and downs than ever imagined possible, everybody has taken notice that they Heat are for sure beatable. They have the best trio in the league statistically, but also the worst bench in the league. And although they did finish the season strong and were able to clinch the 2 seed over Boston, I see a tough first round test ahead of them. Philadelphia was quietly one of the league’s better teams in the 2nd half of the season. Doug Collins really put a spark into this franchise and were a team that gave a full effort night in and night out. Andre Iguodala is an absolute freak of an athlete and has shown some ability to take over a game. Unlike the Heat, the 76ers spread the ball around nicely and get contributions from the entire roster. Elton Brand led the 6ers with 15.1 points per game and brings some much needed experience to an otherwise youthful club. PG Lou Williams is an important piece of the Philadelphia puzzle and it would be a huge blow to the team if he is unhealthy for this series.While I’m doubting that Miami will win a championship this year, I’m not convinced that Philly will be the team to send them packing. One thing you can count on for sure is that if you jump on the +1200 side of things, you won’t be disappointed in the effort that you get from the team in Philly.3rd seeded Boston Celtics (-400) vs. 6th seeded New York Knicks (+300)Man have things gone bad for Boston. The Celtics have been plagued by the injury bug all season yet again. Shaq, Delonte West and Marquis Daniels among others have missed considerable amounts of time this season. The Kendrick Perkins trade seems to have demoralized the boys in Boston. Their toughness and intensity just doesn’t seem to be there like it was pre-trade. The Celtics do have the core of the team still intact. There is no question about it, the big 4 are an elite starting cast. And many people felt the same way about Boston heading into last year’s postseason and we were all proven wrong. Have the Celtics been mailing it in during the regular season like in previous years only to wake back up during the playoffs? Or are they really an average team like they’ve been playing since they lost their starting center? If Boston can get a healthy Shaq back for the postseason, I’m not sure there’s a team out there that would look forward to seeing them in a 7 game series.New York was also a part of the trade deadline in a big way. While things started off slow in New York for Carmelo, they ended the season on fire. This series will feature a lot of interesting matchups. We have two former champion point guards, the superstar still on the rise in Rajon Rondo and former finals MVP Chauncey Billups. There’s Paul Pierce and Carmelo Anthony who are two of the game’s elite scorers. We also have my favorite matchup, the leader of the Celtics KG and New York’s Amare which I’m sure will be the most physical. It is two very distinct styles of play between these two teams and we’ll find out just which one is more effective, New York’s offense or Boston’s defense.4th seeded Orlando Magic (-600) vs. 5th seeded Atlanta Hawks (+400)This seems to be a fairly even matchup. Atlanta was swept out of the playoffs last year by Orlando however the Hawks won this regular season’s series 3 games to 1. It was an up and down season for the Magic as they never really were able to make the jump to be mentioned with the elite teams of the league. They were involved in a midseason blockbuster trade which sent away Vince Carter, Rashad Lewis, Marcin Gortat and Mickael Pietrus and in return received Jason Richardson, Gilbert Arenas and Hedo Turkoglu. The new look Magic never really figured things out and stayed fairly average throughout the season. The key for Atlanta will be Al Horford. He will need to do what he can to cover Dwight Howard one on one. If he needs a double team, Orlando has a knack for finding the free man on the outside and setting up the deep ball. Horford will be taking a beating trying to cover Howard for potentially 7 straight games and I’m sure Josh Smith will find himself giving some help in covering Howard.And although Smith is known for being a solid defender, Howard is a matchup problem for anyone and Smith will be no different.This is a tough one to call but I don’t see either of these teams being a legitimate threat to win the east. It’s tough to picture either team beating one of the top 3 seeds in 7 games.
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