As I write this post, the 2nd round has been underway for about an hour (only I haven’t seen a minute of them yet). Here are my predictions:
- Boston over Philly in 6
- Miami over Indy in 5
- OKC in 5 games, no matter who they play
- SAS over Memphis in 6 games OR SAS over the Clippers in 5
More on these picks – as well as a recap of the first round – below.
Eastern Conference Semis
I’ve got Boston over Philly in 6, but my fear is that Philly won’t show up. Prior to Derrick Rose going down, Philly looked like a team that was just about ready to fold if you include their mediocre performance to close out the regular season. Of course, winning a playoff series can invigorate a team, so perhaps my fears of a Boston sweep are unfounded.
Of course, when you look at the matchups, the only area where Philly really has an advantage is their bench. Boston has a clear advantage at the PG (Rondo) and Center (KG), and I think the rest of the players are a about a push…only it may be that Pierce will outplay Igoudala as well.
As for Miami and Indiana, the Heat should win in 5 games. I saw exactly what I thought I would of the Pacers in round 1 – a young team that doesn’t have the experience or confidence to compete. Not only did Indy lose a game to an inferior team in the first round, they damn near coughed up two more. Indy should have run rough-shod over the Magic, and the fact that they didn’t is proof that this is a young team still learning how to win.
Still, if you’re a Pacers fan, you’ve got a lot to look forward to in years to come.
Western Conference Semis
I’ve got the Thunder winning their next series in 5 games no matter who they play, and frankly that’s probably high. OKC has the combination of offense and defense to sweep either the Lakers or the Nuggets. L.A. could take OKC to seven games, but they’ll need everyone to play perfectly to do so…and I think we’ve seen that Bynum is far from reliable in this regard. Denver would need all their scorers to hit their shots to push OKC, and even then they need to execute perfectly down the stretch to beat OKC in one game, let alone winning three or four.
Regarding the Spurs vs the Clippers, I see it being a short series (5 games). Chris Paul is a truly incredible talent, but it’s hard to imagine he’ll be able to outplay Tony Parker enough to carry his team. Beyond Paul, we have Blake Griffin and Caron Butler. Griffin is a handful (more of a handful than I thought, in fact), but my guess is that Popovich would be able to scheme to minimize his impact. Butler is a fine veteran player, but the Spurs have three or four guys that can play as well as Butler or better. Throw in San Anotonio’s superior depth, and the only way the Clippers win a game is behind some Chris Paul heroics.
Finally, if the Spurs draw the Grizzlies (and I think they will), it will be a tough out. While San Antonio is clearly the better team, the combination of a beefy Memphis front line and a tenacious defender to disrupt things (Allen) will make the Grizzlies a tough matchup. Nonetheless, the Spurs offense is powerful and the defense is above average (and, unlike last year, Splitter can contribute and Z-Bo is still rounding into shape). They will be able to outscore Memphis just enough to win, probably in 6 games.
As always, my predictions are prefaced on the notion that there aren’t any major injuries.
Recapping my First Round Predictions
- I missed the Chicago series by a mile, but only because Rose got hurt. Up until the last minute of that 1st game, it looked like Chicago was going to cream the 76ers, so I’m not going to apologize for this one.
- Like everyone in the NY media, I probably gave the Knicks a bit too much credit…but I will say that this series could have gone an extra game had Shumpert not hurt his knee. I’m not going to apologize for this one either.
- I gave Orlando too much credit thinking they could win two games. The stats were pretty clear that Indy was going to blow them out, but I believed in SVG and veteran guile a little too much. Having said that, a couple of the games were a lot closer than they should have been, so at least I wasn’t off by much.
- I called the Boston/Atlanta series dead on, including the fact that Josh Smith is an immature player who ultimately cost his team.
- I called Spurs/Jazz dead on too, but that one was obvious.
- I gave the Mavs too much credit because they’re stocked with cagey veterans. The stats were clear that this would be a sweep.
- Lakers/Nuggets is still up in the air, but my prediction didn’t account for McGee’s impact on the series, and looking back it should have been more obvious that McGee would be a big of a matchup problem for Bynum. I’m not nearly as confident that the Lakers will win this series as I was a few days ago, especially after seeing Bynum lay an egg in game 6. Still, don’t bet against the Mamba in game 7…especially at home.
- I completely missed the Memphis/Clippers series, even if I ultimately picked the winner (I have Memphis, but we won’t find out if that’s right until tomorrow). I just didn’t see much in Blake Griffin in the handful of Clippers games I’ve watched, but it’s clear that he’s grown substantially. More than I gave him credit for, as I didn’t think he’d have much impact and clearly he has.
As always, if I botch a prediction, feel free to mock me in the comments.