As I type this, the next round of the NBA Playoffs began yesterday with the Celtics beating the Orlando Magic in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Before that series gets any further and before the Western Conference Finals start tonite, I figured I would get my predicitons in before it is too late.
Eastern Conference Finals
2. Orlando Magic vs. 4. Boston Celtics
Orlando swept/kicked the shit out of the Atlanta Hawks in four games last round and until yesterday's game, had yet to lose in the playoffs. Boston upset Cleveland in six games and began the "Where in the World is LeBron James Going?" stories a solid month earlier than pundits (and I predicted). Right now Boston's defense is firing on all cylinders, Kevin Garnett is playing well and looking healthy, and Rajon Rondo was the best player in the playoffs last round. Boston has been playing like a team possessed and if their defense continues to stymie Orlando's three point shooting and Dwight Howard's limited post game, they should win the series. I think that Orlando is the better, deeper team and can win this series if Jameer Nelson, Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis can make up for the fact that Dwight Howard is going to have little to no success against the three headed beast of Kendrick Perkins/Rasheed Wallace/Big Baby Davis unless he suddenly learns some new moves down low and can keep his cool. Carter played hard in game one, but Nelson didn't do much of anything. I think that this series should be a long, close one and that should favor the younger and better rested Orlando since Boston only had a two day rest before this series and they have been banged up all year. I want Boston to win this series, but I think it is going to be Orlando in seven.
1.) Los Angeles Lakers vs. 3.) Phoenix Suns
Both teams in this series are coming off sweeps of their last opponents, with the Lakers disposing of the upstart Utah Jazz and the Suns avenging years of heartache by beating the San Antonio Spurs. Phoenix's team chemistry has been the best of any team thie postseason. This is a team that genuinely enjoys playing basketball with each other. Steve Nash has been outstanding, Amar'e Stoudemire and Jason Richardson have been killing teams, and the Phoenix bench has played out of their minds. Kobe Bryant played incredibly against Utah and Pau Gasol has been solid this postseason. I think that Phoenix has the better bench, but the Lakers have too much size up front with Gasol, Andrew Bynum, and Lamar Odom. Artest can probably shut down Richardson, but Nash is going to light up Derek Fisher and Kobe will dominate against Grant Hill and Jared Dudley. I will be cheering for Phoenix, as they really deserve a run at a title, but I think Los Angeles will outmuscle them. There is always a chance Kobe starts hogging the ball like he is wont to do from time to time and if that happens and they don't take advantage of their superior low post game, the Suns can win the series. I would love to see Phoenix in five or six, but I think it is going to be Lakers in six.
Thats it for this installment. I'll put up Finals predictions when that time comes near. Also, look for something about the closing of Thacher Park soon.