2009 NBA Playoffs Preview

NBA Players/Fans Psyched Up For Second Season
By David A. Lane of Predictem.com

Ever feel like you’ve had enough of a sport’s regular season already and that watching the
players play out the balance of the season has become melo-dramatic too say the least? Watching teams
both rest star players and position themselves for a post-season run doesn’t exactly appeal to me or add
anything to my enjoyment of betting on these games- especially not when many losing teams are dialing in
their ‘so called’ performances night in and night out. Luckily, for those of you who feel much very much the
same way, the NBA’s second season does in fact begin this weekend- giving us all hope that with it there
just might be some degree of renewed vigor, added intensity, and some semblence of excitement for our
viewing and wagering pleasure.

We all know that the NCAA Tournament played very much like it looked as though it
would on paper- very predictably- now should we expect the same in these 2009 NBA Playoffs? Three teams
have battled for best record in the league all season: The Boston Celtics (60-20), Cleveland Cavaliers (66-15),
and Los Angeles Lakers (64-17). Now add the Orlando Magic (58-23) to the mix because they also
did something that only very good basketball teams do- win on the road- since all these teams are 26-14 on
the road or BETTER- and there is no doubt that these four teams all have a reasonably good chance of
not only appearing in the finals, but also winning it all.

The Western Conference is as muddled as it ever was once one looks past the top-seeded
Lakers with all of the other seven teams being seperated by a total of only six games in the standings.
Though eight teams are in already, seeds 2 through 7 are still very unsettled with the always dangerous
Utah Jazz currently holding the last spot that would ensure a feisty first round match-up with LA. The
second seeded Denver Nuggets (54-27) have gotten hot at the right time and appear to be headed for a
tussle with 7th Dallas Mavericks (49-32); the 3rd seed Houston Rockets (53-28) once again will make an
attempt to enjoy playoff success against the shaky 6th seeded New Orleans Hornets (49-32); and as it now
stands home court is still up for grabs but the Portland Trailblazers (53-28) will battle the always tough San
Antonio Spurs (53-28) who also happen to be the only other team in the league besides the ‘big four’ to have
any measure of success on the road during the regular season with an impressive 26-15 record.

Looking towards the Eastern Conference, the defending champion Boston Celtics who
have themselves some serious competition and are facing challenges that didn’t exist during their run last
season, open with the 7th seeded Philadelphia 76’ers (40-40). Both the 3rd seeded Orlando Magic and the
1st seeded Cleveland Cavaliers- who should open with sixth seeded Chicago Bulls (41-40) and the 8th
seeded Detroit Pistons (39-42), respectively- have been formidable opponents that can cause the Celtics not
only grief but can also cost them a chance to repeat as champions. The 4th seed Atlanta Hawks (46-34) will
also host the 5th Miami Heat (42-38) in what could be an entertaining but relatively unimportant series.

Regardless of whether the first round of the playoffs shakes out exactly like stated above
or not, there will be one common theme to say about it when it’s done: that it went to form- something I’m
convinced won’t occur in subsequent rounds. Although the playoffs the last couple of years have honestly
been a let down, this year will absolutely be worth the price of admission. The Eastern Conference for one
will garner much greater interest and should also be far more competitive than it was because the level of
talent there is much greater this year than last. Certainly, the improved level of play will
make watching much more enjoyable and wagering much more unpredictable.

Though the Western Conference has been the better conference for many years, this
season things seem to have evened out a bit. At the top, the Lakers arguably are as good as anyone in the
league and are far better than the rest of the West. All three teams at the top of the East are equally as good
as them but will have to battle each other until the end to earn the right to play in the Finals.

The Lakers with C. Andrew Bynum back will definitely have alot to prove in this years
post season after having been out because of knee problems last year- a fact that won’t be lost on their
opponents. A very tall and extremely talented front line will give all comers fits in the low post and, with
more talent in the East this season, they should also benefit from the teams there banging on each other
and possibly playing in seven game series before being able to move on. Although this really does look like
Lebron James and the NBA’s best chance to crown him as king of the league, the Lakers will take back what
could have been theirs last year in a very exciting and memorable Finals six game series rematch over
the Boston Celtics that makes us all forget about a very boring end to an arduous regular season.