NBA Eastern Conference Playoff Preview
by Jason Green of Predictem.com
No.1 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. No. 8 Detroit Pistons
The Cavs beat the Pistons 3 out of 4 meetings this year. Even though the Pistons did beat the Cavs this year do not look for a good series here. The Pistons finished the season losing 3 in a row and 6 of their last 10 games. The reason the Cavs are the number one seed in the East is their defense, which ranked 1st this year in opponents points allowed (91.4 ppg). That is not good for a Pistons team that ranked 28th in scoring (94.2 ppg). LeBron does not have to do it all anymore, as he has Delonte West and Mo Williams to help him in the scoring department. The Pistons are legit on D, but can they can score enough points to win? Not Likely. Allen Iverson was obviously not the Answer in Detroit and their chances of getting back to the Eastern Conference Finals for a 4th straight year are pretty remote. For them to pull off the huge upset the Pistons will have to play great D on LeBron and Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince will have to have big scoring games. Add to the fact that the Cavs were an NBA best 39-2 at home and the Pistons need to win at least one game in the Motor City to advance to the next round.
No.2 Boston Celtics vs. No.7 Chicago Bulls
The Celtics won 2 of 3 games against the Bulls this season. The Bulls won the last game of the season series dropping 126 points on the defending champs. That is a good confidence builder for the Bulls, as it looks as if KG will miss this series. The Celtics are a great defensive team and if they can force a slow tempo game they will easily win this series. The Bulls only ranked 21st in points allowed and they do not have much of an inside presence. For the Bulls to have any chance in this series they will have to get out and run and get easy buckets and they will have to keep the Celtics off the glass. This season the Celtics had a rebounding differential of +4.5 rpg, while the Bulls were at -0.7 ppg. The Bulls will also have to keep Ray Allen and Paul Pierce from draining the 3 point bomb. Ben Gordon and Derrick Rose will have to play great on both ends of the court for the Bulls to upset the defending champions. The Bulls go into this matchup red hot as well. Some lunch money on Chicago may prove to be a great value bet.
No.3 Orlando Magic vs. No.6 Philadelphia 76ers
This season the Magic beat the 76ers in all three meetings. This series is not a good match up for the 76ers, as they do not have much inside defense and they are facing the most dominant C in the game in Dwight Howard. The thing is the 76ers cannot drop down and pack the lane on D, as the Magic were the best 3-point shooting team in the league this season. The Magic dominated the 76ers this season and they should do so in this series, as a sweep would be no big surprise.
No.4 Atlanta Hawks vs. No.5 Miami Heat
The Hawks beat the Heat 3 out of 4 games this season. For the Heat to win this series a 2nd scoring option has to step up. The Heat have the leading scorer in Dwayne Wade, but Jermaine O’Neal (13.6 ppg) and Udonis Haslem (10.6 ppg) have to help him out on offense. They also need to play good interior D on Hawks C Al Horford, who almost average a double double this season (11.5 ppg 9.3 rpg). The Hawks have many scoring options, Horford, Josh Smith (15.6 ppg), Mike Bibby (14.9 ppg), Joe Johnson (21.4 ppg), so they will be hard to defend. These guys need to play well, as the Hawks have a pretty thin bench. Neither team is good on the glass, as each had a negative rebounding differential this season, so the team that wins the battle of the boards has the upper hand in this series.