NBA Eastern Conference Playoff Preview

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					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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