Well friends, the first round is over and it is onto the conference semi-finals. The first rounded provided upsets; both in terms of actual basketball and me being upset that I believed in the Hawks again, as well as some favorites cruising through their first opponents. Now it’s time for the second round, where we’ll see if an 8 seed can advance once again in a lockout shortened season and if the favorites can continue their dominating ways.
Since I really have no idea what is going to happen, I’ll make two sets of predictions, one with my head and the other with my heart, so that I can cover all of my bases and make it clear that while I think the Heat will do well, I can still say my heart never wanted them to.* And if that wasn’t clear enough, when I pick with my head, I’m saying what I think will actually happen. When I pick with my heart, I am saying what I want to happen to satisfy my boyish NBA fantasies.
*Due to the NBA scheduling some 2nd round series to start before the conclusion of some first round series; this is being posted the day after the 2nd round began. However, all predictions were made before each 2nd round series began…no cheating for me this time.
#4 Boston Celtics vs. #8 Philadelphia 76ers
Watchability Factor – The 76ers caught a huge break in the first round, as the Chicago Bulls lost the reigning MVP for the series and ultra-douche Joakhim Noah for some time as well. Boston has had plenty of injury concerns of their own, with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen both fighting injuries in their opening round as well, so it will be interesting to see if the 76ers can capitalize on this in the 2nd round as well. Both of these teams are defense-first and play a half-court slow it down style offense. This one won’t be the most exciting series to watch. Catch it on Sportscenter
Head – The Celtics have home court advantage this time around and even though they have tended to play an ugly brand of basketball, shooting for an extremely low percentage throughout much of the 1st round, they play well enough to stay in games and then their stars take over in the 4th quarter. I can see a lot of these games being close, but ultimately, Philly will be lucky to win a game. Celtics in Five
Heart – Everyone loves an underdog story and after their fast start, the 76ers fell off and became a forgotten commodity in the eastern conference. Combine that with the fact that I hate the Celtics even more than the Heat, and you get me really hoping the 76ers shock the world and live to get crushed by the Heat in the conference finals. 76ers in Six
#2 Miami Heat vs. #3 Indiana Pacers
Watchability Factor – The Heat and Pacers both expectedly crushed their first round opponents. The Heat are the team that it is downright fun to hate and one must wonder what kind of challenge the Pacers will give them. And I must admit, after watching several of the first round Pacers games, they are a pretty fun team to watch as well. This should be a fun, if short, series. Must Watch
Head – The Heat won three out of four in the regular season and with their outstanding defense and ability to have guys like Lebron and Chris Bosh defend several positions, they take away many of the Pacers most effective weapons. That being said, the Pacers will keep many of these games close. But, in the end, the Heat are just too good and should make this a short series as they push towards the eastern conference finals. Heat in Five
Heart –If the Pacers could find a way to steal a game against a Heat team which occasionally seems to take a game off, they could make this series really interesting. The fans in Indiana are going to be hyped for their first good team in a long time and this could all combine to at least make this go deep. The Pacers aren’t going to win, but they could make it interesting. Heat in Six
#1 San Antonio Spurs vs. #5 L.A. Clippers
Watchability Factor – The Clippers, fresh off a seven game upset of the Memphis Grizzlies run into the #1 seed in what should be a great series. Both of these offenses are up-tempo and a lot of fun to watch and the Duncan/Griffin and Parker/Paul matchups should lead to some great moments. Young vs. Old, David vs. Goliath. This one is going to be great. Must Watch
Head – I believe the Clippers have reached their peak this season and by all accounts, it’s been a highly successful one. If you had told Clippers fans, this time last year, they’d land Chris Paul and make the second round of the playoffs, they’d be ecstatic. And while I do believe the Clippers can be competitive and provide some great entertainment for NBA fans in this series, I also believe this one will be dominated by the Spurs. Spurs in five.
Heart – I’ve always enjoyed the Spurs and the fact that they get so overrated, they’re almost underrated. I’m still hoping for a Spurs/Thunder western conference finals and as I said, I’m not picking against the Spurs period. Spurs in five.
#2 Oklahoma Thunder vs. #3 L.A. Lakers
Watchability Factor – This is a rematch of a 2010 series which saw a young Thunder team, which consisted of many players unable to legally purchase alcohol, lose to a seasoned Lakers team on its way to the NBA Championship. That Thunder team was in the playoffs for the first time and only beginning to realize how special a team they had. Now, two years later, these teams meet again and you have two teams in much different places. While the Thunder took the easy road in sweeping Dallas in an exciting, but short first round series, the Lakers took seven games and barely escaped the Denver Nuggets. There are a lot of fun storylines to this series, most of all, the potential “passing of the torch” of the western conference’s best player from Kobe to Durant. All in all, this is a series you have to see. Must Watch
Head – The Thunder have youth, talent, depth and now, some playoff experience. They have looked at times like the best team in the NBA this season. Any team would love to have a core of three players under the age of 25, like the Thunder, but for some pig-headed reason, I’m going with the Lakers. I know, they looked old and careless in the first round, but they’re whole now, they have a big advantage in the frontcourt with two seven footers who can score. Plus, the Thunder has the pressure of being favored in a big series like this for the first time. I can’t wait to see how this one turns out. Lakers in Seven
Heart – The Thunder are the most fun team to watch in the NBA. I really hope they advance and set up a really exciting series with the Spurs in the next round. Thunder in Seven