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Playoff Preview: 8 Classic Matchups

April 27, 2012
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This is the best weekend of the year: 4 games Saturday, 4 games Sunday. My friends know me by now…they don’t expect to see me leave the house all weekend (other than to the club). For the first time in a long time there isn’t one series that I’m going to write off early. Every matchup is spicy and could go seven games.

Here are my thoughts on each series…..

 

EASTERN CONFERENCE

1 Chicago Bulls vs 8 Philadelphia 76ers

This isn’t the usual Philly team that gets rolled in the 1st round every year, they are way better this season. This group led the Atlantic Division for more than 3 months of the season (the first 3 months) and have the 2nd best field goal % defense. They’ll give Chicago a hard time as they try and find the right chemistry with Derrick Rose back in the mix. That being said, the first game could very well be a historic blowout. ‘Rebounds win rings’ and Philly may just lose the rebounding advantage in each game. Athleticism and defensive ability will make up for it, though. The Sixers are a notoriously bad team in close games but their overtime win at Indiana last week was huge for this group’s confidence. {Chicago in 7}

4 Boston Celtics vs 5 Atlanta Hawks

Atlanta getting the homecourt advantage in this series on the last day of the season was huge, as it’s their only chance to taker down the C’s. If Al Horford was healthy and playing, I’d be tempted to pick Atlanta. Phillips Arena is the quietest building in this year’s playoffs. Boston will take control early in the series and play from ahead. I can’t wait till Ivan Johnson and Kevin Garnett get into their first sparring match…let the games begin! {Boston in 6}

2 Miami Heat vs 7 New York Knicks

This series will either be one for the ages or annoyingly boring like the Knicks showing vs Boston last season. Finally…after years of having Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony shoved down my throat in meaningless regular season games, now it’s for real. These two will probably man-up and guard each other the entire series, something I can’t wait to see. I was wrong when I picked N.Y. last year in an upset and I’m not making that mistake again…I think Miami will win this series handily. Their weakness is at the center, but the Knicks don’t have a scorer inside anyways. If Mike Woodson‘s crew brings it defensively, I mean really brings it, this could be a 6-game series…but recent Knicks history says it won’t be. I do like the matchup of Iman Shumpert on Dwyane Wade…I think a star could be born in this series. {Miami in 5}

3 Indiana Pacers vs 6 Orlando Magic

This will be a preview for Orlando fans: the Dwight Howard-less Magic. They will shoot a lot of contested three-pointers and get destroyed on the glass and in the paint. Even if Ryan Anderson gets blazing hot from outside, the Pacers can just slide Danny Granger over to the 4 (with Paul George the SF) and play a smaller lineup that contests perimeter shots better. Roy Hibbert will have a spectacular series reminiscent of Rik Smits vs Orlando circa 1995. {Indiana in 4}

WESTERN CONFERENCE

1 San Antonio Spurs vs 8 Utah Jazz

Everyone says that the Spurs are on a mission this year…that cracks me up considering that people say that every year. I think the Jazz a really bad matchup for S.A., a team that lacks athleticism and depth inside. Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, and Derrick Favors will have a field day inside…once they get their confidence. I see the Jazz losing the first two games in Texas (big) but then winning both games in raucous Utah. Heading back home, Spurs fans will have nightmares of last year’s run vs the Grizzlies. SAS will respond and win the series, but it’ll show major chinks in their armor for Memphis to exploit (again) in the second round. {Spurs in 6}

4 Memphis Grizzlies vs 5 Los Angeles Clippers

This is the best matchup of the first round and you won’t want to miss a second of it. That being said, how can anyone pick the Clippers here (other than Shaq)? They gave up homecourt with lackluster play down the stretch while the Grizzlies have only gotten stronger as April has gone on. They have the experience, the better front line, and the better coach. Vinny Del Negro will be exposed in this series for not having a solid gameplan nor the respect of his players…..Chris Paul will be leading huddles by Game 3. {Grizzlies in 6}

2 Oklahoma City Thunder vs 7 Dallas Mavericks

Everyone is excited about this series because it’s a rematch of last year’s Conference Finals. Many think the experience of the defending champs will make this a classic series…..I disagree. Dallas will get rolled. This team gutted itself in the offseason to be able to chase Deron & Dwight this summer…and it will show in this series. I’m surprised this squad didn’t fall all the way to 8th.  Dirk Nowtizki and his band of veteran mercenaries will get run out of the gym in every game, which isn’t necessarily a good thing for OKC. Pressure builds pipes…..too bad they won’t face any in this series. {Thunder in 4}

3 Los Angeles Lakers vs 6 Denver Nuggets

The Lakers will not miss Metta World Peace in this series. They’re way bigger inside and also more experienced. I look for this to be redemption for Pau Gasol. He disappeared last April, physically and psychologically…even Jason Smith thought he was a punk. This time around, it’ll be the throwback Pau. He’ll toss the miniature Kenneth Faried around like a rag doll (see Boozer circa 2009 & 2010) while Andrew Bynum will completely outplay Timofey Mozgov at center. I think by Game 4 we’ll see JaVale McGee playing big minutes due to his length and athleticism (a miniature coming out party for himself). The key factor, other than inside play, will be the point guard position. Once a weakness for L.A., Ramon Sessions will show Ty Lawson that times have changed. Ty won’t be the ‘game-changer’ that he was in their regular season matchups. The Lakers are still capable of a meltdown behind Drew’s emotions…but it won’t happen this time. {Lakers in 5}

 

Follow me at twitter.com/@NBAKnez…..BlogNBAsketball is on Facebook, like it?   RUMORS PAGE

 

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5 Responses to Playoff Preview: 8 Classic Matchups

  1. Meka Killah on April 27, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Great playoff insights. I agree with much of what you have to say. However, Bulls vs. 76ers is not gonna go 7 games. Let me tell you something, first of all, let me tell you something, in this “subaru legacy” series, 76ers will have a hard time winning one game. Bulls in 5!

    • Martin Knezevic on April 27, 2012 at 9:45 pm

      I can hear Doug Collins already… “so you SAY there’s a chance??” not quite
      -Knez

    • Marc on July 21, 2012 at 3:33 am

      I’ve never seen one NBA analyst or exerpt say Melo is a good defender. Have you?? I’ve seen plenty point out that he isn’t a good defender, however. And I’ve watched firsthand the majority of games Melo has played in the NBA and saw him unable to stay in front of most he guards and his refusal to provide any weakside D. So you’ll excuse me if I rely more on NBA exerpts and my own eyes than some illiterate mouth breather on YOUTUBE.

  2. bojan on April 27, 2012 at 11:06 am

    So no chance for the underdogs? Surprised you didn’t pick a single lower-seeded team. That said, I have no clue which one I would pick. Maybe Clippers or Hawks?

    • Martin Knezevic on April 27, 2012 at 9:43 pm

      Boki, welcome back…I didn’t realize that I picked the top-seed every time. I looked at each matchup individually….history says I will definitely be WRONG this yr as there is always an “upset” or 2 (or 5). I don’t think a 5 seed beating a 4 is really considered an upset so that eliminates LAC & ATL from the discussion. Maybe the Knicks over Miami? (though it’ll be shocking).
      Who do you think will win it all??
      -Knez

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