The Basketblog

Celebrating the love of the Game.

NBA Playoffs Preview: Eastern Conference

This is the one, truly fearless prediction blog on the Internet. All the others are pretenders. All the others actually have readers. That’s right, I said it…to myself. Um, to the predictions!
1 Detroit vs. 8 Orlando
Winner: Detroit in 6.

Why they will win:

  • Playoff experience. Every one of Detroit’s key players has significant playoff experience. Outside of Turkoglu, no one playing more than 20 minutes per game for the Magic has played more than 15 playoff games; Dwight Howard has never been in the playoffs. Never underestimate experience.
  • Talent. Webber vs. Battie; Wallace vs. Howard; Prince vs. Turkoglu; Hamilton vs. Hill; Billups vs. Nelson. Other than Howard, would you even consider the Magic starter against the Piston starter? Darko Milicic is Orlando’s best sub, and he couldn’t even get on the court for Detroit.
  • Home-court advantage. While Detroit wasn’t great at home this season (26-15), Orlando was less great on the road (15-26).

Why Orlando might win:

  • They’re hot. They are currently tied for the second-best winning streak in the NBA (4 games).
  • Dwight Howard. Orlando has the best player in the series; surely that counts for something.
  • Flip Saunders. .586 career winning percentage; .415 career playoff winning percentage.
  • Chris Webber. We know Detroit won’t win the championship because they have Webber on the roster. Since they will lose eventually, why not a colossal first-round collapse?

Key Player: Grant Hill. Check his stats from 95-2000, the first year he was injured. His body and athleticism will never be the same

Match-up to Watch: Flip Saunders vs. Brian Hill. Saunders has won four series since 1996; Hill hasn’t won any since then. Of course, Saunders has won 738 games since then, while Hill has only coached 367 games since then. Hill’s players quit on him this season, which is something Saunders knows plenty about. If Detroit loses, it will be Saunders’s fault; if Orlando doesn’t compete, it will be Brian Hill’s fault. Without a doubt.

2 Cleveland vs. 7 Washington
Winner: Cleveland in 5

Why they will win:

  • Washington’s two best players are injured. Butler might be back, but I doubt he will be the same. Gilbert Arenas was the reason they hung with Cleveland in last year’s series but will miss the entire series this year.
  • Home court. They have the second-best home record in the east.

Why Washington might win:

  • LeBron James. He’s a great player, but his teams have faded down the stretch in his first few years, and historically, players that came straight out of high school have struggled in the playoffs (Garnett and McGrady, Kobe hasn’t done much without Shaq, etc.)
  • Gilbert Arenas might come back. You never know…

Key Player: Antawn Jamison. He needs to have at least four games like he did against Orlando on the 17th (48 points, 9 rebounds) and no more than three games like he did against Chicago two days before (8 points, 5 rebounds). Unfortunately for the Wizards, they actually lost the game against Orlando.

Match-up to Watch: LeBron vs. anyone who guards him. I don’t like LeBron, but that’s for the lack of effort he gives at times and for off-court things. When he gives 100% effort, like he will in this series, there aren’t many players that are better to watch.

3 Toronto vs. 6 New Jersey
Winner: New Jersey in 7

Why they will win:

  • The “Big Three.” When Jason Kidd and Vince Carter are at their best (as they are right now) there are very few pairs that are better. Richard Jefferson will find his game again; when that happens, they could make a deep run. Many experts picked New Jersey to make the finals at the beginning of the year, and these three players was why.
  • They’re hot. No other eastern team has won more games out of the last 10.
  • Revenge. Vince Carter wants to beat his old team and should step his game up to do so.

Why Toronto might win:

  • Their own “Big Three.” Chris Bosh, T.J. Ford, and Anthony Parker aren’t too bad themselves. Combine their statistics and you get similar numbers to the Nets’ three.
  • They have a better bench. Bargnani, Dixon, and Peterson could all start for many teams. New Jersey’s best sub? Bostjan Nachbar.
  • Revenge. You don’t think the Raptors want to get back at Vince for quitting on them and essentially forcing a horrible trade?

Key Player: Anthony Parker. He’s the only player from Bradley in this series. Seriously though, he’s the best shooter in the series and the only one with professional championship experience. He was the best player on multiple European championship teams. He might not be the best player now, but he knows what it takes to win.

Match-up to Watch: Jason Kidd vs. T.J. Ford. Kidd is still arguably the best point guard in the league, but Ford is at least the second best in the east. Kidd has been to the finals before, and Ford is looking to break out. I’m predicting right now that the pair will average 20 assists per game.

4 Miami vs. 5 Chicago
Winner: Chicago in 7

Why they will win:

  • Both teams are another year older. Chicago is a young team, and Miami is an old team–you do the math. Seriously though, Chicago competed last year and since have added Ben Wallace, a great player with championship experience and Miami has injured their best player.
  • Home court. The Bulls had the best home court record in the league at 31-10. Because of the new playoffs rules, the Bulls will have home-court advantage in this series despite being the lower seed because they had the better record.
  • Dwyane Wade. Wade was the best player in the league for the first 53 games of the year but hasn’t been nearly the same since he came back. The Heat were also only 28-31 with him this year, while they were 16-7 without him.

Why Miami might win:

  • They did it last year. The entire team has championship experience and experience beating the Bulls in the first round.
  • Shaq and Pat Riley. Extreme experience here. I’m having a really hard time picking against them.
  • Dwyane Wade. Do we really expect the injury to hamper him enough to lose in the first round?

Key Player: Dwyane Wade. How much will the injured shoulder and knee affect him? Will Shaq continue to play like a star if Wade is playing well? If Wade and O’Neal both play well, no one will beat them.

Match-up to Watch: Shaq vs. Ben Wallace. The two have a history against each other and both have gotten the better of each other more than once. Both are getting older and declining somewhat. Will this be the last great series that the two have against each other?

And now, look for 40 blogs in 40 nights, starting with the west preview tonight!

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April 21, 2007 - Posted by | Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat, NBA, New Jersey Nets, Orlando Magic, Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. ALL STAR GAME Romania 2007

    http://feketefene.wordpress.com/2007/04/17/all-star-game-2007/

    Comment by feketefene | April 21, 2007

  2. JJ Redick baby!

    Comment by Dick Vitale | May 2, 2007

  3. aslkjflkjsjalklkdfsjklasdljf

    Comment by Dick Vitale | May 2, 2007


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