Believe me or not, I really don't care, but I picked the Bulls to win the East back in January and they are showing to be the most intriguing team in the East this year. With the Hype in Miami and Boston being Boston of course, nobody thought Chicago would be at the top. They were considered the rest of the pack with the Hawks and the Magic. Derrick Rose, the consensus pick for league MVP, has taken his game to elite status. After an off season consulting with the likes of Kobe Bryant and MJ, Rose finally realized this is his team and is playing like the best guard in the NBA, I still think Deron Williams and Chris Paul are better point guards, but that is another story for another time. The Bulls have proven they can beat the best in one game now they have to prove they can get it done in a seven game series. The three teams in their way are Boston, Miami, and Orlando. Heat being the most difficult.
The Heat is on
We all know Miami has the talents in South beach but what the don't have is a floor general like D. Rose. Yes they have D. Wade and Mr. James, but having a general on the floor like Rose makes the game easier for all those on his team. Look at the elevated play of Forward Luol Deng. He and Rose have played very well against the heat this season and I believe if the two teams meet in the Conference finals the Bulls could pull off the so called upset. The one knock in that series is who can and will guard D. Wade. Deng would try and cause fits for Mr. James but having no true 2 Guard to play "D" or put pressure on Wade when he is on "D" can be a challenge for Chicago. Keith Bogans and Ronnie Brewer are NBA players and I understand that but on any other team they would be limited role players. They both have to elevate their game and produce on both ends of the floor the best they can. I call no bull on the Bulls and all bull on the HEAT!
The Grizzlies will give the Spurs problems especially with Manu's currentinjury, but the Spurs are still an elite team & the will overcome. Look for Zach Randolf to have a huge series in a highly competitive 6 game series, with the Spurs on top.
2 Lakers vs 7 Hornets (Lakers in 4)
The Lakers are the 2-time defending champs. The Hornets have no David West & a slightly injured Chris Paul. No way, no chance. Bring out the brooms, period.
3 Mavericks vs 6 Blazers (Blazers in 6)
This is the worst possible match-up for the Mavs outside of L.A. in the West. Portland may be too athletic for Dallas to deal with defensively with the addition on Gerald Wallace who will get in Dirk's face & make him feel so uncomfortable on the offensive end. Andre Miller might be huge in this series & it will be up to Jason Kidd to match him. I got a bad feeling about this one, so I going with Portland to wrap up the series in 6 at home.
4 Thunder vs 5 Nuggets (Thunder in 7)
I can't wait to watch this series. High scoring, plenty of rim-rattling highlights & hopefully plenty of drama. Durant, Wesbrooke & Harden will have to outscore a new & "IMPROVED" Nuggets team who will go 10 deep to try to overtake them. After stealing half of the New York Knicks in the Carmello Anthony deal, the Nuggets are still the number 1 scoring team in the league & are much better defensively. Denver also plays extremely well at home & will force a game 7, but Kevin Durant & Russell Wesbrooke will be too much handle down the stretch of an elimination game. Thunder squeeze by this series in 7.
I dare a man of the hardwood to tell me the Western Conference is wide open, I'll Wait....Exactly what I thought. Yes I am a Laker fan and Yes I am completely bias in my opinion, BUT, I have some interesting knowledge to back it up. If the Lakers get beat in the playoffs it will not happen until The Western Conference finals or Finals. Why you ask? Because of match ups and adjustments. Three teams in the West give the Lakers Nightmares, OKC, Portland and Denver. Two of which play each other so now we are down to two teams. Either OKC or Denver and Portland. Now I will tell you why none of these teams will actually beat LA in a SEVEN game series.
Phil Jackson is one, if not thee best, coaches of all time to make adjustments in a basketball series in a matter of days. No other coach left in the playoffs, outside of Doc Rivers and George Karl, are even close to his level. Depth is an overrated term in basketball I feel but having atleast two or three guys off the bench to produce is a key factor. Now that elimantes Portland because for one they have no size on the court or on the bench and their bench players do not produce at a high level. And Denver still has no true identity as what type of team they want to be. The playoffs is not the time to figure that out. If the series was best out of three like it was in the good ole' days then I would be preaching a different sermon to you all!
New Era vs. Old Vet
So that leaves us with the pesky and God given Super athletic and talented Oklahoma City Thunder. This team is deep, They have a superstar in KD aka "Durantula" aka Kevin Durant, a budding star in Russell Westbrook, and a solid pack of role players that include the best name in basketball, Serge Ibaka. So why can't they beat the Lake show you ask? Well, They can and very possibly could uspet the two-time defending champs, BUT, one thing stands in their way. Lamar Odom, yes I said Lamar Odom. Most people think it is Bynum being healthy, Pau getting his touches, the bench mob, or even Artest slowing down KD but that is not the case here. Outside of the Black Mamba Kobe Bryant, Odom is the biggest mismatch for teams in the playoffs. He is a Guard in a tall forwards body. He can go by "bigs" and shoot over small athletic forwards. OKC had trouble defending Odom last season in the playoffs and this year Odom is playing his best since he was a Clipper. If you ask me he is should have been an all star this year, but again I'm a Laker fan and all my opinions are Bias.
D-Rose & the gang are not playing around. I look for them to put out Danny Granger & the Pacers in a 4-game sweep. Enough said.
2 Heat vs 7 Sixers (Heat in 5)
Wade, James & Bosh are too talented to lose to a team with no superstar, with that being said, I see the Heat falling in game 3 in Philly just because the Sixers will play their hearts out in front of the home crowd, but that will be it. Miami will win the game 4 & 5 in possible blow-outs & will advance with no problems.
3 Celtics vs 6 Knicks (Celtics in 5)
The Celtics may have struggled since the trade of Kendrick Perkins, but lets get 1 thing straight. The core group of this team is tough minded & battle tested. Though the Knicks have 2 superstars in Melo & Amare, plus a proven champion who is a star in his own right in "Mr. Big Shot", the Knicks can't defensively in the 4th quarter get enough stop to stop the "Big 4" down the stretch. So look for New York to out-score Boston in either game 3 or 4 at MSG, but will fall to the Celtics in Game 5 in Boston.
4 Magic vs 5 Hawks (Magic in 6)
Now the Hawks won the season series 3-1, but this is the playoffs & I just don't see the Hawks flipping the switch from their 6 game losing streak to beating Dwight & crew 4 times with-in 7 games. The Magic are only 2 years removed from being Eastern Conference Champions & still have enough talent to get pass the Hawks.
Finally, the playoffs are here. No more guessing games on who will win it all this year, the time is now. 16 teams qualified for this years post-season tournament, but who are the true contenders that will have a realistic chance of hoisting the Larry O'Brien Trophy this year.
1. LOS ANGELES LAKERS
I don't care if Game 7 of the Finals is in L.A., Boston, Miami, Chicago, Tokyo or Baghdad, when you possess all that size & skill combined with the best player in the league in Kobe Bryant, how can you go wrong? L.A. for the second straight season has coasted through the NBA regular season allowing folks to jump-on & jump-off their band-wagon. The Lakers have been to the Finals the last 3 years & are the 2-time defending champs, not to mention that was with a limited, but very injured Andrew Bynum. Now with a much healthier Bynum & a deeper bench expect my Lakers to win it all for a third straight season.
2. Boston Celtics
Game 7 of last year's Finals still haunts the Big 4. I mean they played their hearts out, but fell short to their arch-rival Lakers. Now the playoffs are here & I'm telling all of you right now... The C's are ready. Shaq is ready as well. He has fresh legs & is prepared to give Boston heavy minutes. The Celtics starting five are all familiar with winning championships with 8 championship rings between them. Rondo is the floor general & will put the other veterans in great position to succeed. K.G. will anchor the defense & has plenty left in the tank. Look for the last Finals match-up we will witness between L.A. & Boston this June for maybe a long time as teams like Miami, OKC, NY & Chicago will probably own the NBA for the new 5-10 seasons.
3. Chicago Bulls
They possess the league's MVP in Derrick Rose & in my eyes the sixth best player on the planet. D-Rose is a bad man & definitely has the game to carry the Bulls to their first NBA Finals since number 23 shot down The Mailman's hopes in June 1998. With Deng, Noah, Boozer, Brewer, Gibson, Korver & Watson, Chicago presents the a great supportive cast to compliment D-Rose's special abilities. The Bulls play outstanding defense all game long, then Derrick Rose throws daggers in the hearts of teams down the stretch. This team has all the ingredients to have an potential dynasty, but this year I feel that they will come up short to a veteran Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals that is poised to make one last run.
4. Miami Heat
So much star power, so much talent, so much potential. Miami are for real & at the end of the day they have two of the top 3 ball players on the Earth. D-Wade & LeBron will wear-down teams through a 7 game series. I think with them finishing ahead of Boston is a big plus. Now the playing field between the 2 teams are more level & if Chris Bosh can establish himself in the paint, than Miami might win that series, but let's be real for a second. Chris Bosh, "Post Player", yeah... alright... It's not happening, not against Boston. Not this year. Miami might win multiple championships, but their first won't come this year. Boston will knock them out the second round.
5. San Antonio Spurs
Duncan, Parker & Ginobili have enough championship experience and enough hatred for the Lakers to get back to the Finals. In their hearts, I'm sure the Spurs feel that the Lakers took a few of those championship runs away from them & would love nothing but to end the Lakers chances to 3-Peat. And you know what, the Spurs will get that chance. Those teams will meet in the Western Conference Finals, but if all things are equal the Lakers will win that series in 6 games. The Lakers are too big & too talented for the Spurs to deal with through a 7 game series. Now if the Spurs can prove me wrong, I think going through Memphis, OKC & L.A. would potentially be too much to overcome to then face Boston, Chicago or Miami, but if they win it all... do not be shocked.
So that's how I see it. Sorry to OKC, New York & Dallas fans, I'm just not feeling your chances on even getting to the Finals this season, but I am not a profit & don't claim to be, so what I'm saying may all be non-sense. Time will tell & that's why they play the games.