May 16, 2012

NBA Playoffs

In the NBA’s Eastern Conference the first round all went to plan except the for the (1)Bulls and the (8)76ers.  That series was decided by Derrick Rose tearing his ACL in the first game.  That series ended in six games with the (8)76ers winning.
The series in the Eastern Conference was the (2)Heat and the (7)Knicks.  This series was no surprise the favored Heat one it in 5 games.  Most of the games were blowouts.  This year the Heat are probably the favorite to win the NBA title.
The 3 vs 6 match up in the East was again no surprise.  The (3)Pacers easily took out the (6)Magic despite the Magic winning game one.  The magic were playing without their All Star center Dwight Howard.  The series was a quick 5 games.
The fourth and Final matchup in the Eastern Conference was the (4)Hawks and the (5)Celtics.  Despite the Celtics being a lower seed they were the clear favorite in this series because of the experience of their veterans.  The Celtics won the series in 6 games.

This year the Western Conference has two favorites the (1)Spurs and the (2)Thunder.  These teams are expected to meet in the Western Conference Finals.  The Veteran (1)Spurs easily swept the (8)Jazz.
The (2)Thunder swept the defending champion (7)Mavericks.  The (2)Thunder were led by their outstanding Small Forward Kevin Durant.
The next series was a heated battle between the (3)Lakers and the (6)Nuggets.  This series came down to a decisive game seven.  The (3)Lakers pulled out victorious because of their large front line.
The final series of the first round was between (4)Grizzlies and the (5)Clippers.  This series also came down to a game seven.  The high flying (5)Clippers pulled out victorious.

OPINION:  The second round matchup between (8)76ers and the (5)Celtics should be over in 5 or six games with the Celtics winning.  The Celtics seem to always make deep runs in the playoffs and have a knack for hitting shots when it matters.  Also surprisingly the Celtics are becoming healthier as the playoffs progress.
The other Eastern Conference second round series will almost definitely be won by the (2)Heat.  The (3)Pacers just won't be able to beat the heats smothering defense and relentless offense.  Not to mention 2012 NBA MVP LeBron James.

OPINION: The matchups in the Western conference second round both have obvious favorites.  The veteran (1)Spurs should sweep the inconsistent (5)Clippers.  The Spurs ended the season with the NBA’s best record, and it seems they have found the fountain of youth for point guard Tony Parker.
The other Western Conference second round series will also be somewhat of a blowout.  The young (2)Thunder will face the (3)Lakers and their famous shooting Guard Kobe Bryant.  The Thunder will probably win the series in four or five games.  The Thunder are one of a few teams that can match the Lakers big men.

OPINION:  If I have predicted the winners of the Eastern Semifinals correctly then the hated (2)Miami Heat will face off with the storied (5)Boston Celtics.  The series will be a fight to the death.  Both teams have terrifying defenses and physical players.  The (2)Heat will most likely win in seven games because of their home court advantage, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the (5)Celtics came out victorious.  Honestly, I despise both of these teams and just want them to cripple each other for the NBA Finals.
The Western Conference Finals will most likely be played between the (1)San Antonio Spurs and the (2)Oklahoma City Thunder.  The Spurs got into a winning rhythm near the end of the season and are still getting hotter.  The (2)Thunder have a defensive front court and a skillful back court.  This series could easily go either way, but the younger (2)Thunder may be able to tire out the (1)Spurs and win the series in six or seven games.

OPINION:  I will look at all four scenarios I have thought of for the NBA Finals.  I’m going to start with the least likely matchup between the resilient (5)Boston Celtics and the aging (1)San Antonio Spurs.  This series would likely end in five or six games.  The (1)Spurs would likely win after running the (5)Celtics into the ground with their high powered offense.  This would give the (1)Spurs their fifth NBA Title.
The next least likely matchup is the clutch (2)Oklahoma City Thunder and the defensive minded (5)Boston Celtics.  Saying the (2)Thunder play like them normal selves they will win the series in five or six games.  The rising stars on the (2)Thunder’s backcourt will be just too much for the slower (5)Celtics to handle.
The next possible Finals match up would be a brutal battle between the stacked (2)Miami Heat and the intelligent (1)San Antonio Spurs.  This series would likely end in seven games with the (1)Spurs winning on their home court.  The relentless offence of the (1)Spurs will just give the (2)Heat too much foul trouble.

OPINION:  Now for the most likely series the expensive (2)Miami Heat and the powerful (2)Oklahoma City Thunder.  This series would be a interesting in many ways.  One way is that the (2)Heat are one of the most expensive NBA teams with a team payroll of just over $80 million while the (2)Thunder are one of the cheapest with their team payroll totaling about $57 million.  Also the small forward matchup features the MVP and the runner up MVP.  Thirdly both teams show a different model for how to build a successful team.  The (2)Thunder built theirs with well thought draft picks while the (2)Heat signed All Star players.
The point guard matchup will be between the (2)Thunders All Star Russell Westbrook and the (2)Heat’s Mario Chalmers.  The (2)Thunder easily win this match up due to Westbrook’s athleticism and scoring ability while Chalmers isn’t known for anything other than his three point shooting ability.  
The shooting guard matchup is a very interesting one.  From the outside it looks like the (2)Heat’s Dwyane Wade is the obvious favorite over the (2)Thunder’s defensive minded Thabo Sefolosha, but the Thunders real shooting guard was six man of the year James Harden.  Harden is a skilled offensive player.  In the end the Heat still win the shooting guard matchup, but just hardly.  
Now comes the small forward battle.  The (2)Heat’s LeBron James was the league's MVP and is dominate in every aspect of the game other then in the clutch.  James seems to fade when the spotlight shines the brightest.  The (2)Thunder match LeBron with MVP runner up Kevin Durant.  Kevin Durant won his third scoring title this season and he is only 24 years old.  Also Durant led the league in game winning or tying shots this season.  Most people would pick James in that matchup, but but being the (2)Thunder fan I am I’m going to pick the (2)Thunder’s Kevin Durant.  
The power forward matchup is between the (2)Thunder’s Serge Ibaka and the (2)Heat’s Chris Bosh.  Both of these players have very colorful nicknames.  Bosh has been named The Dinosaur, The Ostrich, or even The Gazelle (well the last one might just be my family).  Ibaka’s nicknames all reflect his superhuman shot blocking ability.  He has been called the Serge Protector, Iblocka, and also Serge I-Block-Ya.  Despite Bosh’s funnier nicknames he wins the matchup due to his scoring ability, but they will likely cancel each other out.
The Center matchup is between the (2)Heat’s undersized Joel Anthony and the (2)Thunder’s Kendrick Perkins.  Both of these players do almost nothing on the offensive end of the court.  They are both primarily defenders.  Perkins wins this matchup due to his larger size.
After that analysis of each match up the (2)Thunder are winning three match up  and the (2)Heat only two.
This series will likely end in game seven with the (2)Thunder denying LeBron James his first ring.  The (2)Thunder’s offence will be just too much for the (2)Heat.  This will give the (2)Oklahoma City Thunder their first ever NBA Title.

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