Now that the first round of games is over, we are on to the second round of the NBA playoffs. The first round had its moments, as well as 2 game 7’s, but I think we should see some more exciting matchups in the second round. I will also talk about how the matchups could be related to the Brooklyn Nets, if possible.
Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics.
After Derrick Rose went down with an injury in game 1, nobody was surprised that the Sixers were able to beat the Bulls, but it is still impressive whenever an 8-seed beats a 1-seed in the NBA. The Sixers are not your typical 8-seed, and they showed that they were better than that at the beginning of the season when they held the lead in the Atlantic Division. The team that passed them to win the division was the Boston Celtics. They played very well in the second half of the season, but they really did not impress me at all in their beating of the Hawks in 6 games. The Hawks are never a good playoff team and the Celtics should have had an easier time with them. Despite this, I don’t see the Celtics losing to the Sixers in a playoff series. The Celtics’ veterans are too good and determined to lose to a less talented team. (I promise I made this prediction before game 1 of this series, which the Celtics won, 92-91).
As a Nets fan: I will be rooting for Philadelphia to win this series. The main reason for that is that the Nets won both their games in Philadelphia this year, and it will be pretty incredible for the Nets to have swept an eastern conference finals team on the road. But both these teams are in the Nets’ division, and I am not a big fan of either.
Prediction: Boston in 7.
Indiana Pacers at Miami Heat.
The Pacers are a nice team, but don’t expect them to hang around with the Miami Heat. They beat the Orlando Magic in 5 games, but they were really not very impressive. Without Dwight Howard, the Magic are not a playoff team, and the Pacers should have swept them. Not only did Indiana not sweep, but every game was close, at least until the 4th quarter, and one game went to overtime. Miami had a relatively easy time with the Knicks in the first round, beating them in 5 games. Their 4 wins were each by double-digits, and the Big 3 played well. I don’t think Indiana will have the defenders to guard both the newly-named MVP Lebron and Wade, and that will ultimately decide this series. Many of these games will be close, and Indiana may win a game, but there is no way they are winning this series.
As a Nets fan: It doesn’t really matter. The Nets won’t be looking at any of the free agents on either of these teams and Miami is going to win either way.
Prediction: Miami in 5.
Los Angeles Clippers at San Antonio Spurs.
The Clippers got all they could handle in the Memphis Grizzlies. They could have easily lost that series in 5 or 6 games, but instead won it in 7. If not for Chris Paul, the Clippers would not have had a chance to win that series. He made so many important plays that don’t go down in the box score and he saved the Clippers on multiple occasions. The Spurs had one of the most impressive first round sweeps I have seen. None of the games were very close, even at a hostile Utah crowd. The Spurs displayed great teamwork and unselfishness, and they have played like this all season long. They are not as young or athletic as the Clippers, but they are clearly the better basketball team. They are very happy that the Clippers won their first round series, because they lost to the Grizzlies in the first round last year.
As a Nets fan: The Spurs are very boring to watch, but the Clippers aren’t a very likable team either with Reggie Evans and former Net Kenyon Martin. I will be rooting for the Spurs in this series, because Tim Duncan is one of the best big men ever and I think that the Spurs will be a better matchup for the Thunder in the conference finals that the Clippers would be.
Prediction: Spurs in 5.
Los Angeles Lakers at Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Lakers were very unimpressive in their first round series win over Denver in 7 games. They almost blew a 3-1 lead and Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol played very poorly in games 5 and 6. Before I talk any more about these two teams, I would like to say congratulations to the Denver Nuggets. This was a team with very low expectations coming into the season with many of their players in China and having lost Carmelo Anthony last season. Despite all this, they exceeded expectations by just making the playoffs, and then they really outplayed the Lakers, a supposed championship contender, in the first round. George Karl is a great coach and he should have been in the running for coach of the year. Back to this second round series, one thing to watch for is rest vs. rust for Oklahoma City. They swept the Mavericks in 4 games and haven’t played in over a week. This is a young team, and sometimes young teams come out rusty in game 1 after a long layoff. The Lakers, on the other hand, definitely could have used some rest. This is an old team, and Kobe Bryant is still getting over a stomach bug. In order for the Lakers to win this series, Kobe is going to need to score at least 40 points every game, and I don’t think he can do this at this point in his career. The Thunder are a balanced team with 3 big scorers in Durant, Westbrook, and Harden, and have toughness and defense with Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins. The Lakers will not get swept in this series, but don’t expect them to win more than a game or two.
As a Nets fan: I don’t think anybody really wants the Lakers to win. The Thunder seem to be the only team (you can argue that the Spurs also have a chance) that can beat the Heat in the finals and they are very likable. I think fans of just about every team are rooting for the Thunder in this series.
Prediction: Oklahoma City in 5.
Expect an exciting second round and I will post NBA updates whenever I deem it necessary. Do you disagree with my predictions? Post your opinions in the comments section below.