By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
Who Is The True Winner?
SAN ANTONIO — The 2008 NBA playoffs finally begin Saturday and there are many experts saying that this team or that team will be the eventual winner.
There are 16 teams but yet for some enigmatic notion, there are paper champions who many think are the real deal and there are past champions who don’t get the respect they deserve.
Nothing new and the boys in Vegas just love the banter. All eight of these series have their quirks and their high points and a few of them, like the Suns-Spurs match up are going to be ratings grabbers for the networks.
No one is champion just yet but here are the first round predictions on who wins what series.
EASTERN CONFERENCE – FIRST ROUND It may be the weaker of the two conferences but that doesn’t mean that there are not any sleepers who can come out and be second rounder contenders.
#1 BOSTON CELTICS VS. #8 ATLANTA HAWKS The Hawks have come a long way and they deserve to be in the playoffs this year.
But that’s all they get; a token appearance and that appearance becomes the tune up opponent for the Boston Celtics.
The Celtics have been the best team during the regular season and everyone in the sporting world have already crowned them the Eastern Conference champs.
With this match up, Kevin Garnett and company can enjoy this series as the Hawks simply cannot put up a decent challenge.
Boston in four.
#2 DETROIT PISTONS VS. #7 PHILADELPHIA 76ERS The experts say that the Pistons should have no problem against the 76ers but I’m not so certain about that.
Andre Igudala has got his teammates playing competitive ball and the Pistons need some competition.
As for the Pistons, Flip Saunders once again has his team in the playoffs but they have performed poorly each trip out.
This year should be different as no one has really heard about any infighting or distractions.
That doesn’t mean that the 76ers will not go down without a fight. Pistons win but they will do it in six.
#3 ORLANDO MAGIC VS. #6 TORONTO RAPTORS Stan Van Gundy got the last laugh on Pat Riley and good for him.
Chris Bosh gets another chance to help make the Raptors a better team with Sam Mitchell at the helm. Food for them.
This will probably be one of the more competitive series as NBA fans get the opportunity to see two quality teams battle it out for the chance to play against Boston in the next round.
Key match up is going to be Bosh versus Dwight Howard.
My money is on Howard and his teammates.
Magic in six.
#4 CLEVELAND CAVALIERS VS. #5 WASHINGTON WIZARDS Let the trash talking begin.
And let King James put out the trash.
Gilbert Arenas and his teammates must have all been hit by a subway car on the blue line if they think that Cavaliers are not that good and that James is overrated.
Last time I remember, it was James who walked up to Arenas and told him to man up.
Arenas punked out.
That channel isn’t going to change anytime soon.
The Cavaliers are looking for redemption and unlike the Wizards, they have a team that is capable of winning a series at home or on the road.
Cavs take this series (again) in five.
THE WILD, WILD WEST WILL EVENTUALLY BE WON The wild, wild west is the last frontier where the really good teams of the NBA reach the championship round and where good teams could be the Eastern Conference champs.
It took all 82 games but the seedings are finally set and the match ups are ready to go.
Here are the first round match ups and analysis of where these teams will go from there.
#1 LOS ANGELES LAKERS VS. #8 DENVER NUGGETS The Lakers are finally news worthy in the sporting world and that’s a good thing.
The Denver Nuggets just want to be a positive news story.
But here’s the skinny: the Nuggets are formidable and could be a problem.
Kobe Bryant and company will need to play this team as if they are in a WCF series.
Speed, shooting accuracy and a defense that can thwart the triangle offense are the attributes of the Nuggets.
For the Lakers they will need to rely on Bryant and Pau Gasol and hope that Andrew Bynum can be a part of the mix.
If there is ever a chance for an upset, this is the series.
As fresh of a story as it is for the Lakers to be here, don’t be surprise if they have to take this series in six possibly seven games.
#2 NEW ORLEANS HORNETS VS. #7 DALLAS MAVERICKS If the Lakers/Nuggets series could be seen as an upset or sorts, then this series can be seen as a blow out of gigantic proportions.
The Hornets have been at the top of the conference all season for a reason; they are talented and can be a nightmare.
The Mavericks have actually taken steps backwards since the Jason Kidd acquisition and that’s a shame.
Mentally I still believe that the Mavs have never gotten over the beating they took two seasons ago or the thumping they got last year from Golden State.
If Avery Johnson does not find a way to slow down Chris Paul, David West et al, not only will the Mavs end up losing this series in five or less games but he could very well be out of a job.
Hornets in five.
#3 SAN ANTONIO SPURS VS. #6 PHOENIX SUNS This is the most anticipated match up of the playoffs next to the rumored Lakers vs. Celtics Finals.
Hold that thought because these two teams may change that scenario.
The Suns are hoping that they can continue to dominate the Spurs like they did in the last appearance in San Antonio but the Spurs are not just going to lay it down.
Manu Ginobili is back and the club is hoping that Brent Barry can help where Robert Horry may not be available.
As for Shaq, he is looking in good shape and has helped his new team find a new identity.
Yet that new identity is not ready for a seven game series.
While the champs may be old, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Manu and company know what’s at stake; a title.
Look for this to be the most exciting match up in the playoffs with the Spurs squeaking this one out in six or seven games.
#4 UTAH JAZZ VS. #5 HOUSTON ROCKETS The injustices of the NBA just keep coming at Jerry Sloan and his team and they just keep on plugging away.
Even though the Jazz won their division, they will be on the road against the lower seeded Rockets.
Like that makes a difference.
Without Yao Ming and with history staring them right in the face, the Jazz will manhandle the Rockets in this round with little or no problem.
The only way for the Rockets to make this a competitive series is for them to share in the responsibility of winning the game.
That means that Tracy McGrady cannot be the only guy working his tail off at trying to win.
This series is the closest to a blow out we will see as the Jazz will take this in five.
There will be a lot of good ball being played in the next three weeks but there will be some lapses.
If memory serves me correctly, TNT begins their 30 games in 30 nights tomorrow night and thus some of these series are going to get drawn out.
But let’s just recap who wins their series and we can look at a potential second round match up then.
In the East, you have Boston beating Atlanta in four, Detroit over Philly in six, Magic over Raptors in six and the Cavs beating Washington in five.
That means that a potential second round match up looks like the following: #1 Boston vs. #3 Orlando #2 Detroit vs. #4 Cleveland In the West, your winners are the Lakers over Denver in six, Hornets in five over Dallas, the Spurs in six over the Suns and the Jazz over the Rockets in five.
Your potential second round match ups could be the following: #1 Los Angeles vs. #3 San Antonio #2 New Orleans vs. #4 Utah Those are the predictions and prognostications but we’ll let these guys play it out and see just how close this preview is to the final result.