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Today at 1PM, the 2011-2012 NBA playoffs start. In a year cut short from 82 to 66 games, this year was already weird going into it – never mind what happened during it.
Somehow, the Spurs won the #1 seed in the Western conference, Jeremy Lin looked like the best player in the league at times, Dwight Howard remained in Orlando and Greg Oden hurt his knee (again).
Even though this was an oddly paced season, that fact is irrelevant considering that the best team usually prevails in a 7-game NBA playoff series. Here are my picks for each round of the NBA playoffs.
1. Bulls vs. 8. 76ers – Philly looked good early on in the year, but recently slumped and fell below the Celtics in the Atlantic. Chicago in 6.
2. Heat vs. 7. Knicks – Can the late season surge by New York carry on into the playoffs? Not against Miami, who will handle them in 5 games.
3. Pacers vs. 6. Orlando – No Dwight Howard + No team chemistry = No chance. Indiana in a 4-game sweep.
4. Celtics vs. 5. Hawks – Boston’s recent fountain of youth is going to carry into the playoffs and take the Horford-less Atlanta in 5 games.
(Photo by flickr user Salon de Maria)
1. Spurs vs. 8. Jazz – Even though Duncan & Co. lost to the Grizzlies last year in the first round, the Jazz don’t even have nearly enough talent. San Antonio in 5.
2. Thunder vs. 7. Mavericks – This is a tough 1st round matchup for OKC, but their youth and athleticism will carry them past the defending champs in 6 games.
3. Lakers vs. 6. Nuggets – The Nuggets could be a team to watch out for, especially with Mike Brown actin’ a fool of late… But Kobe doesn’t quit. No MWP? No problem! Lakers in 6.
4. Grizzlies vs. 5. Clippers – Memphis had success in last year’s playoffs, but they can’t run with Lob City for an entire playoff series. LA in 6.
(Photo by flickr user Culture Schlock)
1. Bulls vs. 4. Celtics – Even though Doc Rivers is potentially this year’s NBA Coach of the Year, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau knows the Celtics too well to lose – especially if D-Rose is healthy. Sad to say… Bulls in 6.
2. Heat vs. 3. Pacers – Indiana is one scorer away from becoming a legitimate championship contender, but for now, there’s too much talent in South Beach. Heat in 5.
(Photo by flickr user thehoorse24)
1. Spurs vs. 5. Clippers – Where San Antonio wins many of its games because Tony Parker is quicker at the PG position, Chris Paul will outduel him and Blake Griffin will outrun the amazingly agile 36 year old Tim Duncan en route to the Clippers winning in 6.
2. Thunder vs. 3. Lakers – Kobe has shown that he’s not afraid to guard Russell Westbrook and Bynum is always a matchup complication in the paint, but Durantula and Harden can carry the weight and Perk has handled Big Baby Bynum before.
(Photo by flickr user JamesBoydPhotos.com)
1. Bulls vs. 2. Heat – The tenacious Chicago defense is entirely capable of guarding the Miami Big 3 (or, Big 2, rather), and Derrick Rose hungers for bigger and better trophies than MVP. Expect this dogfight to go at least 6 games, probably 7, and the Bulls to prevail because they realize there’s no letter “i” in the word “team" - but Boozer's gotta play big.
(Photo by flickr user Keith Allison)
2. Thunder vs. 5. Clippers – The battle of the young and elite will culminate in a game 7 in Oklahoma City where Durant scores 45 and leads the Thunder past Lob City.
1. Bulls vs. 2. Thunder – The matchup between two of the best three point guards in the game will surely take the whole 7 games to be decided, and in the end Russell Westbrook will win Finals MVP after exposing Derrick Rose’s lackluster defense. This championship victory will establish Oklahoma City as the best small market team since the Spurs of the 2000's.
(Photo by flickr user IsoSports)
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