WEST - ROUND 1:
LAKERS v JAZZ
The Jazz are a physical team who could wear down the Lakers some, unfortunately for them, the Lakers won't feel the effects until after the series is over.
NUGGETS v HORNETS
The entire Western Conference (besides the Lakers) is fairly wide open, hence the shuffling of playoff seeds in the past week after every game. The Nuggets are a good not great team but are led by Chauncey Billups who knows how to win in the playoffs. Chris Paul is the best player in this series by a long shot but, like Jim pointed out, he doesn't have much help. Paul will win 3 games and his supporting cast will lose the other 4.
SPURS v MAVS
Is this the year where the Spurs are too old to make a playoff push? Wasn't that supposed to be last year and the year before? Duncan's health is a question mark and no Manu hurts. Can I count on Dirk to not be a playoff headcase this season? I think so.
BLAZERS v ROCKETS
The Blazers are primed to take it to the next level and, if they keep their pieces in place, should be there for a few years...even if Oden never reaches his potential. The Rockets are solid and there may be some Ewing Theory implications in this series because they are without Tracy McGrady who chose elective surgery rather than gutting it out and (likely) getting traded at the deadline and McGrady has never gotten them out of the first round.
Rockets in 5....Ewing Theory prevails
EAST - ROUND 1:
CAVS v PISTONS
CELTICS v BULLS
Being totally biased in this, and you saw that this is the matchup I wanted even before the news that Garnett may be out for the playoffs, so I have to stick to my guns right? Bulls win this one in 6...if it goes 7 I don't see us winning in Boston in a Game 7. Bulls steal Game 1 leading the way to a series win.
MAGIC v SIXERS
On ESPN last night the Sixers were picked as the possible upset in the East even though they hadn't beaten the Magic once during the season. Yeah that makes sense.
HAWKS v HEAT
Do you think Wade is going to let his team go one and done? I don't either. I want to pick the Hawks I really do...but if Wade performs at his peak he will singlehandedly win this series.
WEST - ROUND 2:
LAKERS v ROCKETS
I think the Lakers will be a little sore after facing a hardnosed Jazz team and that will cause them to faulter slightly in this series but, again, not enough to knock the best team in the West out. I fully expect a 5-20 shooting, 20 pt night for Kobe to be followed by a 45 point explosion regardless if Battier/Artest are defending him well or not.
NUGGETS v MAVERICKS
This series is a contest to see who gets to lose to the Lakers so does it really matter who I say wins it? Flipping a coin......and Mavericks it is, I guess. It doesn't matter.
EAST - ROUND 2:
CAVS v HEAT .....errr, BRON vs. D-WADE
I hope this series turns into a glorified 1 on 1 game between Bron and Wade...Bron drops 30-9-7 game 1, Wade comes back with a 28-13-6....etc, etc.
BULLS v MAGIC
The Magic have made the Bulls look really bad on a couple occasions this season. Could the Bulls pull it off? Sure. Will they? Probably not. And that's fine, second round with this team/coach and in Rose's first year is a great season. I see Howard dominating, causing double/triple teams and kicking it out to Orlando's 3 - point game (they shoot the most in the league) which will burn the Bulls.
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS:
LAKERS v MAVS
The Lakers are just too good.
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS:
CAVS v MAGIC
Love Dwight Howard and all but LeBron is going to get the Cavs to the Finals...his all around game is just too much right now. There's no stopping him from getting there.
CAVS v LAKERS
And 6 months after they began, the playoffs come to an end. The Cavs have only lost one game at home and that was to the Lakers. Does that mean the Lakers will be able to steal one again en route to another ring? I actually think it does. And with the 2-3-2 Finals format that's bad news for the Cavs.
Knicks fans rejoice as their savior LeBron doesn't have a championship to deepen his ties to Cleveland making his signing in 2010 still a possibility.
I can't wait to see how wrong I am about this.