predicted winners in bold
1 Boston Celtics vs 8 Atlanta Hawks
4 Cleveland Cavaliers vs 5 Washington Wizards
2 Detroit Pistons vs 7 Philadelphia 76ers
3 Orlando Magic vs 6 Toronto Raptors
1 Los Angeles Lakers vs 8 Denver Nuggets
Remember the first 8 seed to upset a 1 seed? Not the Warriors, not the Knicks. It was the Denver Nuggets against George Karl's Seattle Sonics. Denver has the ability to score, and you know Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony will rise to the occassion and give the Lakers all they have. Problem is, the Denver Nuggets have no chance against a offense based on passing and execution like the Lakers' triangle. Pau Gasol is an all-star and Lamar Odom is playing out of his mind. Derek Fisher, the Lakers' most underated addition this year, will continute to make plays in the playoffs. Oh, and they also have some MVP guy wearing 24. There will be a need for Andrew Bynum later in the playoffs, however.
4 Utah Jazz vs 5 Houston Rockets
Houston has homecourt in this rematch of last year's only seven game series. Last year, each team won all their home games until Utah stole a thrilling Game 7 in Houston. But that was with Yao. Just like last season, look for Utah to win all their home games and steal one on the road. Jerry Sloan is a brilliant playoff coach, and Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer are the best two players that no one watches. I look forward to them giving the Lakers fits in the second round.
2 New Orleans vs 7 Dallas Mavericks
No, it is not because of the playoff experience factor that everyone is talking about. It is because last night when these two teams happened to play each other, Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitski showed that they can go on a whole another level when it comes to winning the big games. We have not seen that from New Orleans.
3 San Antonio Spurs vs 6 Phoenix Suns
- I am not picking because I cannot decide. I really do not know. So let me tell you what I do know.
- The Spurs and Suns played in a series that what was practically the NBA Finals last year. The Suns were a Nash bloody nose and a Amare and Diaw suspension away from potentially winning the series.
- But these are not the same two teams. Grant Hill and Shaq are now in for the Suns. With Amare and Nash, has there ever been a team with four former MVP candidates?
- The Spurs are not the same team either. Manu Ginobli has emerged as the Spurs best player this year. If his groin is healthy, he is up there with Kobe and Lebron as the best clutch perfomers. That is right folks, this entire glorious NBA season make come down to Manu Ginboli's groin.
- Tony Parker will be able to score at will. Steve Nash is way too slow to keep up with him, and Shawn Marion, whose length contained Parker in the past, is long gone.
- Anyone else notice how everyone forgot about Leo Barbosa? He is good for a random offensive explosion that could win a game.
- Fouls will be huge. Amare and Shaq on the same floor is next to impossible to stop. Duncan needs to stay in the game as much as possible.
- Bruce Bowen is slipping and Robert Horry and Brent Barry are not 100%. They are crucial, as Barry adds another sharp shooter to go alongside Michael Finley. And everyone knows Robert Horry is good for a couple of clutch plays to win a playoff game or two.
- This is the Spurs' big cactus sized problem: Tim Duncan has never gotten past Shaq. The Suns acquired Shaq mainly to guard Duncan, so the Spurs went out and got Kurt Thomas to guard Shaq.
- Nash. Parker. Hill. Manu. Raja. Bruce. Finley. Barbosa. Amare. Thomas. Shaq. Duncan. This is madness. Madness? This is not madness, this is...where amazing happens.
- So while I am not man enough to pick a winner of this series, I am going to make an even bolder prediction regarding this awesome Spurs - Suns matchup: Winner is champion.