Now we know for sure what the playoff match-ups are. No more “if the season ended now”, the matches are set. Here are my picks for the Eastern Conference.
1 vs. 8- Philadelphia vs. Chicago. The Bulls went 50-16 in the regular season, even with Derrick Rose missing a lot of time due to various injuries. Guys like Deng, Boozer, Hamilton and Noah really stepped up in his absence. The Sixers started strong, but then nearly played themselves out of the playoffs with five games to go. They did however, show some heart by winning on the road in Cleveland, Indiana and New Jersey to make the playoffs. Bulls in five.
2 vs. 7- Miami vs. New York. These long time rivals of playoffs past get together in the first round in what should be an entertaining series. Last year it was these two franchises who went out and got the superstars that they felt would put them over the top. Miami got Lebron James and Chris Bosh. New York went out and got Carmelo Anthony to go with Amare Stoudamire.Let’s watch and see which team made the right moves. I’m guessing it was Miami. Heat in five.
3 vs. 6- Orlando vs. Indiana. Injury riddled Orlando has no chance. Not only no chance to win the series, they have no chance to win a game. They won’t even be able to keep a game close. Indiana has a cake walk to the next round. With Danny Granger playing at a high level and Tyler Hansbrough, Roy Hibbert and company, this is going to be ugly. Pacers in four
4 vs. 5- Atlanta vs. Boston. This will be the most competitive series in the first round by far. Atlanta is so up and down it’s hard to predict how they will play. The Celtics have plenty of playoff experience, but do they have enough left in the tank? The crazy 66 games in four months regular season will likely have taken a lot out of the old men.
Eastern Conference Semifinals
Assuming thos first round series go according to plan, the semifinals go like this:
Atlanta vs. Chicago. Chicago just has way too much for the Hawks. If Rose is at the top of his game, this won’t be close. The Hawls will be doing well if they can pull out one game. Bulls in five.
Indiana vs. Miami. The Pacers will hang a little bit tougher than the Hawks. The games will be close, but the Heat will have too much in the end. It will be interesting to see how James does in the fourth quarters in this series. That could set a tone.
Eastern Conference Finals
Miami vs. Chicago. This one will be a good one. The two top teams in the East will meet for the second straight season for a trip to the Finals. This time, the Bulls will prevail because they’ve gotten one year better. Plus Richard Hamilton will come up with some big shots and Carlos Boozer will show up this year. Bulls in seven.
So your NBA Eastern Conference Champions will be…The Chicago Bulls!