The NBA Early Playoff Picture
Total Pro Sports – With about a month of the regular season left, I felt that it was time to make some predictions about the playoffs. Yes, as we all know, anything can happen and any team can make a late run, but my picks are going to be based off of how the teams are playing now, and how long these teams can really hold up.Let’s start with the Western Conference. The Lakers have already clinched their division, and will probably stay at the top. San Antonio has an experienced team, so I think they will hold on to their position as the 2 seed. Denver is hot right now, and will probably jump Houston and grab the 3 seed. Portland may not have a lot of experience, but that is a dark horse team, and I think if they continue to play great with their young players, they can move on up to number 4. Houston is hurting without Tracy McGrady, and it really has showed recently; Houston will be the 5 seed. I’m a Deron Williams fan, and think he can really take Utah far this year, but if not far in the playoffs, at least to the 6 seed in the West. The Western Conference rounds out with New Orleans and Dallas. Chris Paul is playing amazing right now, but his team is not really helping him out, and Dallas is playing well enough to hold onto the final spot. Sorry Phoenix, not this year.
Now onto the East, which probably is a little easier until you get to the bottom. Your top 3 will most likely stay as is: Cleveland, Boston, and Orlando. LeBron is LeBron, and he will do whatever it takes to stay on top of the Eastern Conference. Boston has a very complete team all the way through their bench, and that will really help in the struggle that is the postseason. If Orlando gives Dwight Howard the ball often enough, they can be a force to be reckoned with. Atlanta was a shock to most this year, but I have always liked the talent on that team. They finally brought it all together this year, and will grab the fourth seed. Miami (along with my pick for MVP Dwyane Wade) grabs #5, and watch out for them. I have been a fan of them all year, and although experience is lacking on this team, most teams in the East lack experience, so hopefully Wade gives his team some insight. Philly and Detroit hold on to their 6 and 7 seeds, just because the bottom is so weak right now. Luckily they play in the East, where a mediocre record slides you into the playoffs. And for the eighth seed that has 6 teams within 4 games of each other, I have narrowed it down to New Jersey and Chicago. I made this decision by looking at both of their schedules for the end of the season, and Chicago has more home games and plays team with worse records right now. Sorry New Jersey, but Chicago holds on and takes the eighth spot.
Now, let’s pick some winners. In the West, the Lakers have no trouble with Dallas, San Antonio defeats the Hornets, Utah pulls of the upset and takes care of Denver, and Portland uses their young talent to move past Houston. The Lakers then take care of Portland, and San Antonio doesn’t let Utah pull of two upsets and moves on. And for the Western Conference representative in the NBA Finals, I’m going to pick the Lakers. Their team is just too complete and well rounded; plus, San Antonio has a lot of older players, and may get tired out this far into the playoffs.
In the Eastern Conference, the top 3 seeds will have no trouble with the bottom 3, so Cleveland, Boston, and Orlando move on with ease. Again, I like Miami a lot this year, and I don’t know how long Joe Johnson or whoever is on Wade can hold up, but it probably won’t last a whole series. Miami pulls the East upset and advances to the next round. Unfortunately, this is where Wade’s run ends, because although he is great, LeBron and the Cavs are just too good for his Heat team to handle. And although Orlando looks really good as of late, Boston has way too much experience on that team and will move on past Orlando. Boston and Cleveland meet again in the Eastern Finals, and this time it’s LeBron’s turn. Cleveland moves on to the NBA Finals to play Kobe and the Lakers.
Lastly, for my NBA champion. In 6 games, I believe that it is finally time LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers take home the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Of course it will be a brutal battle in all six games, but Cleveland has the manpower to hold on. If it does turn out this way, King James deserves it, and this is only the beginning for him.