We are nearly at the halfway point of the first round of the NBA playoffs, so I thought it would be a good time to give some updates, give some predictions, and talk about how each series could be related to the Brooklyn Nets, if at all.
Philadelphia 76ers lead Chicago Bulls 3-1.
Normally when an 8-seed beats a 1-seed, it’s a huge upset, but not here. This should have been expected, because Bulls superstar went down with an injury in game 1 and Chicago hasn’t won a game since. After blowing the Sixers out in the first game of this series, the Bulls have lost 3 close, low-scoring games and seem to have little chance at coming back in this series. Glorified Nets Killer Lou Williams has played very well for Philadelphia, as well as random 7-foot white guy Spencer Hawes. Because the Nets beat the Sixers on the road twice this season, one would expect the Sixers to not be a very good team. However, they can easily get to the conference finals this year. If (or when) they beat Chicago, they will likely have Boston in the second round, and I would pick them to win that series. Of course, they will get blown out by Miami in the conference finals though. Just imagine a team making the NBA finals after losing twice at home to the Nets this season. Unthinkable.
Prediction: Sixers in 6.
Miami Heat lead New York Knicks 3-1.
Miami surprised me by losing this game. I thought they would sweep and not lose a game until the finals. I was wrong, but I still see them playing for the championship in June. Expect another 10-point victory for Miami in game 5 to send the Knicks home. Carmelo Anthony will not score 40 points again against arguably the NBA’s best defense. I am upset that Miami did not sweep the Knicks because it would have capped off a great week for Nets fans. The Brooklyn Nets would have been officially introduced, and their cross-bridge rivals would have been swept. This could have gotten the Nets some band wagon fans, but they should still get some of such fans once the Knicks lose in game 5.
Prediction: Heat in 5.
Indiana Pacers lead Orlando Magic 3-1.
The Magic were lucky to win one game, because I can guarantee you that they won’t win another. Indiana has won 3 straight, including an exciting overtime victory on Saturday. Game 5 will be in Indiana, and the series should end there. We have to give Orlando a break, though. They had no business being in the playoffs without Dwight Howard, and even the Nets (if healthy) could arguably defeat this short-handed Magic team in a 7-game series. Hopefully Dwight Howard will see that he does not have a lot of talent around him and demand a trade (hopefully to Brooklyn) in the offseason. Indiana is a solid team without a superstar, but they are not getting past Miami in the next round.
Prediction: Indiana in 5.
Boston Celtics lead Atlanta Hawks 3-1.
I really hate the Atlanta Hawks. Every year they are a very good team in the regular season who seems like they should at least make it to the second round, and yet they rarely get there. They are a very boring team to watch, especially now that Josh Smith is out with an injury and they seem to have the same roster every year. Speaking of injuries, Paul Pierce got injured in last night’s game, but expect him to return for game 5. The Celtics should be able to win without him if need be, and he will definitely be back for the second round. The Hawks may win game 5 at home, but they are not winning this series. The Nets were 0-7 combined against these teams this season.
Prediction: Boston in 6.
San Antonio Spurs lead Utah Jazz 3-0.
Every game of this series has been a blowout San Antonio win, and nobody should really be surprised. Utah was a nice team this year and did a great job at making the playoffs, but there is nothing really to motivate them at this point. They’ve already exceeded expectations and have no business beating the San Antonio Spurs. This may be a team to watch in the future, but now is not their time. I expect game 4 to be closer than the other games have been, but San Antonio should still be able to get the job done.
Prediction: Spurs in 4.
Oklahoma City Thunder defeat Dallas Mavericks 4-0.
In the only series that is already finished, the Thunder have eliminated the defending champion Mavericks. Most of the games in this series were close, but the Mavs clearly didn’t have the fire and passion that they had last year when they won the championship. They seemed to be content that they made the playoffs, and they really did not have a chance going up against this younger, more talented Oklahoma City team. As a Nets fan, I am very happy with the results of this series. Hopefully Deron Williams will see this and think, “Do I really want to go to a team where the core of the team is all over 30 years old and they just got swept out of the first round?” If he wants to make a “basketball decision”, he should see this and decide against going to Dallas. Also, there has been a lot of speculation of Jason Kidd coming to Brooklyn.
No prediction necessary.
Los Angeles Lakers lead Denver Nuggets 3-1.
The Lakers edged out the Nuggets tonight, but have really not been too impressive so far. This could have been a sweep, but the Lakers should still be able to win in 5 games. A good thing that comes out of losing a game for the Lakers is that Metta World Peace only has 2 games left on his suspension for elbowing James Harden in the head. Ideally for the Lakers, they should lose game 5 at home and then win game 6 in Denver. If they did that, Harden would be back for game 1 against the Thunder in the second round. I doubt the Lakers will risk that, but it would be an interesting strategy. The Nuggets overachieved this year and are one of the least talented playoff teams. They should be happy with their season.
Prediction: Lakers in 5.
Los Angeles Clippers lead Memphis Grizzlies 2-1.
This has been the most entertaining series to watch so far, and expect these exciting games to continue. I see this being the only series to go to 7 games. Both teams are full of talent, and neither one wants to be eliminated in the first round. In the last game, the Grizzlies, led by Rudy Gay, made a desperate comeback in the last minute, only to come up one point short. However, I expect them to win game 4 in L.A. tomorrow to tie up the series. Even though Chris Paul is arguably the best point guard in basketball, he has only advanced out of the first round once and this is only his 4th playoff appearance in 7 seasons. Of course, that is mostly due to the small amount of talent surrounding him for much of his time in New Orleans, but still. This series really is a toss up, but I see the Grizzlies winning it in 7 games, due to both home court advantage and the Clippers inexperience in the playoffs.
Prediction: Grizzlies in 7.
That’s all for now. Expect a recap of the first round and preview of the second round coming once the first round of games is over. Feel free to comment agreeing/disagreeing with my predictions below.