2011 NBA Eastern Conference Preview-1st Round
The 82 game grind of the regular season is over and now the 2nd season begins. Expect more intensity, more big plays to happen. This is the season where stars are born. Without further adieu, here is my preview of the 1st round of the 2011 NBA Eastern Conference playoffs.
(1) Chicago vs. (8) Indiana
This matchup pits the bully of the Central Division against the upstart Pacers. For the Pacers to compete in this series, they have to play well as a whole. The Pacers under interim head coach Frank Vogel play up to 10 players every game, so each player must contribute. The most important of these 10 players will be PG Darren Collison and SF Danny Granger. If these two play well, they could cause the Bulls some issues. Granger must be on target from the perimeter and Collison has to play great defense against the MVP. For the Bulls, they must come out and continue to play the stifling defense that they have been known for all season. The key for the Bulls will be the play of PF Carlos Boozer. Rose and Deng will get their points, but Boozer has to help take some pressure off of them. Eventually the Bulls will impose their will on the Pacers as the series goes on.
Prediction: Bulls win series 4-1
(2) Heat vs. (7) 76ers
The Heat closed out the season strong and enter into the post-season with a lot of confidence. They face a 76er team that has turned a lot of heads this year. The Heat will make it tough on the 76ers because of their presence on defense. If the 76ers don’t find a way to penetrate the Heat defense, this series could be over very quickly. PG Jrue Holiday, PF Elton Brand and SF/PF Thaddeus Young are key to any chance the 76ers have. For the Heat, they must rebound and get out in transition. If the Heat don’t rebound, then they could be in for a half-court battle. But I don’t think that will be an issue against the 76ers. Better luck next season.
Prediction: Heat win series 4-1
(3) Boston vs. (6) New York
The Celtics are going against the revamped Knicks who are trying to make a run this post-season. The Celtics are a veteran club who have had struggles rebounding since the trade of C Kendrick Perkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder this season. In order to win this series, the Celtics must hit the boards and they must also get better bench production. Delonte West, Glen “Big Baby” Davis and crew must outdo the Knicks with Toney Douglas coming in off the bench. I think if the Knicks get Carmelo and Amar’e going at the same time, the Celtics could have some trouble. Expect some exciting games, but in the end, I don’t think the Amar’e/ Carmelo/Billups trio will be able to topple the veteran grit and toughness of the defending Eastern Conference champions.
Prediction: Celtics wins series 4-2
(4) Orlando vs. (5) Atlanta
The Magic and the Hawks could be the most intriguing series of the 1st round. The Hawks have had the Magic’s number all season, even though the Magic have had the best weapon on the court each game, C Dwight Howard. For the Hawks, SG Joe Johnson must be special. Johnson has disappeared at times in the playoffs, but for him to be a prime-time player, he must step up to the challenge versus the Magic. Another key for the Hawks will be the play of Al Horford. He must match Howard every game. For the Magic, Dwight Howard must stay out of foul trouble. If he does, the Magic will dominate the Hawks. The other main question for the Magic is who is going to step up and be a consistent 2nd scorer for them? In the end, I see the Magic regretting the trade that left them with just one true big man on the team. The Hawks win this series in an upset.
Prediction: Hawks win series 4-3
These are my predictions for the 1st round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. If you have any other predictions or thoughts, feel free to drop a comment.