As a writer, these previews are so much easier on the typing fingers than the NCAA Tournament.
(1) Detroit Pistons vs. (8) Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks did win a game in the regular season series, but only after the Pistons had gone into full-coast mode. I admire Milwaukee's ability to turn from a scrub into a playoff team in the span of a year, and I think Andrew Bogut should at least be on the Rookie of the Year radar, but this series holds about as much suspense as a 1-16 game in the NCAAs.
Prediction: Pistons in four
(2) Miami Heat vs. (7) Chicago Bulls
In Chicago's corner: scrap, hustle and pluck. In Miami's corner: Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade. Miami is going to get some serious revenge for those '90s beatdowns at the hands of the Jordan Bulls.
Prediction: Heat in five
(3) New Jersey Nets vs. (6) Indiana Pacers
Do you realize how compelling this series would be if the Pacers still had Ron Artest? I'd go so far as to call them the better team. Alas, Artest is a nutjob and the Pacers parted ways with him, turning Indiana from Eastern Conference sleeper to just another finesse basketball club.
Prediction: Nets in five
(4) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (5) Washington Wizards
If the Cavs can't contain Gilbert Arenas, they might as well start setting up tee times or rap studio times or whatever it is basketball players do in their free time. If the Cavs can contain Arenas, Cleveland should scrape by in a dog fight of a series.
Personally, I think having the first two games and Game 7 at home should count for something for the Cavs.
Prediction: Cavaliers in seven
(1) San Antonio Spurs vs. (8) Sacramento Kings
All that toughness the Pacers lack now belongs to the Kings. Artest makes Sacramento a lot less of a pushover, but this is the one time finesse should beat muscle. Handily.
Prediction: Spurs in five
(2) Phoenix Suns vs. (7) Los Angeles Lakers
Kobe Bryant keeps this series close, but unfortunately, he'll be dragging the rest of the roster around like a sack of rocks. Steve Nash, on the other hand, will be turning a limping Suns roster into a well-oiled machine.
Prediction: Suns in six
(3) Denver Nuggets vs. (6) Los Angeles Clippers
It should be noted that the Clippers, with the better record, will have homecourt advantage. This series will be much more of a staredown than you might think. And, you know what? I'm giving the edge to the Clips.
Prediction: Clippers in seven
(4) Dallas Mavericks vs. (5) Memphis Grizzlies
The 60-win Mavs are a fourth seed. That alone should force the NBA to re-think its playoff seeding system. Although I respect the job Mike Fratello has done with the Grizzlies this year, this series shouldn't be too suspenseful.
Prediction: Mavericks in six