Sunday, May 07, 2006

NBA playoffs: Round 2

Yes, I would still care enough to write this even if the Cavs hand't advanced. When it comes to blogging, I am a blogger before I am a fan.

Eastern Conference

Detroit Pistons vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Now, LeBron James finds out what hanging with the big boys in May is all about. Trade in your winged sneakers from some body armor. This isn't going to be a score-fest like against Washington. This series is going to be slow-paced, physical and probably a lot more draining. Expect Detroit to come out with hard fouls early, trying to gain the psychological upper hand through intimidation, which they did so well during the regular season.
If the Pistons are playing defense they way they are capable, I'd be surprised if the Cavs break 100 points at all in this series.
Much like Michael Jordan did when he was getting pounded by the Pistons almost 20 years ago, LeBron can take the schooling he's about to receive and file it away for future use. The Cavs will vault past the Pistons at some point, but this year they take their lumps.
Prediction: Pistons in five

Miami Heat vs. New Jersey Nets
Miami, a team with Shaquille O'Neal, needed six games to get past the undersized and undertalented Chicago Bulls. That doesn't bode well. But then again, players like Shaq and Dwyane Wade tend to up their fight when the level of the competition increases.
That factor, along with the fact that Miami has a deeper bench and homecourt advantage, makes me give the Heat the edge in a hard-fought series
Prediction: Heat in seven

Western Conference

San Antonio Spurs vs. Dallas Mavericks
If you saw the way the Spurs expertly fended off a spirited charge from the Kings in Round 1, you know why you can never bet against them in a playoff series.
This series should have occurred in the conference finals, but the NBA's three-division format prohibits it. The Mavericks probably stand the best chance of dethroning the world champs prior to the NBA Finals, but I still don't think they have enough internal toughness to best the Spurs over the course of seven games.
However, once the Spurs finally get past the Mavs, the conference finals opponent will seem like an NBA Finals warm-up.
Prediction: Spurs in seven

Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Clippers
I know how much the public wants to root for the best underdog story in the NBA in quite some time. I know how much Angelinos wanted an all-L.A. playoff series. Unfortunately, that didn't happen, and unfortunately, the Clips' magic carpet ride ends here.
The Clippers don't even have the advantage of forcing the Suns onto uncharted turf in Game 3. Phoenix has already taken everything Los Angeles can throw at them in a hotly-contested seven-game series against the Lakers. They will be facing the Clips in the same arena, probably with many of the same fans in attendance.
The Clips' pluck and veteran backcourt of Sam Cassell and Cuttino Mobley might win them two games. But, in all honesty, the Suns shouldn't have a lot of trouble closing out L.A. for a second straight series. Phoenix has already survived Kobe Bryant. Elton Brand shouldn't be too hard of a riddle to solve after that.
Prediction: Suns in six

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