Quick Picks for Round Two of the NBA Playoffs

Will these guys move on to their respective Conference Finals?
(images by Jonathan Daniel, Isaac Baldizon, & Layne Murdoch of Getty Images,
and Gerald Herbet of the AP)
 Tougher match-ups. Deeper emotions. Higher stakes. Who'll move on?

Bulls over Hawks in 6

Will Derrick Rose will the Bulls to beat Atlanta?
(image by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
The Hawks torched the Orlando Magic because Dwight Howard and his teammates couldn’t put together 4 games where they’d all complement each other’s games. Most of the time it was just Superman trying to carry his team, and that won’t be the case here. Derrick Rose was great against the Pacers, but he seemed bottled up at times, but, unlike Howard’s crew, the other Bulls stepped up in the clutch. Kyle Korver hit big shots, Luol Deng was a reliable number two scorer, and Joakim Noah hit people left and right. The only big question mark is Carlos Boozer, who needs to bulldoze his way to a high double-double (around the vicinity of his 17 and 10 season average) instead of getting saddled with early fouls. Hinrich’s reported absence early in the series will be key since that means Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford will have to guard Rose with regularity, which of course might sap some of their energy on the offensive end. The Bulls will be tested here like in the first round, but, also like in the first round, they’ll make enough big plays to pull through.

Heat over Celtics in 7
The ball should be in Dwyane Wade's hands
(image by Victor Baldizon/Getty Images)

Let me say this right now: anybody but the Heat. Any team can win it all this year – just not LeBron James. He’s a freakish talent, but I just don’t want him to win. It’s a personal thing. Having said that, I still believe Miami has the advantage here. I wouldn’t have said that before the trade deadline, but this Boston quintet lost a big part of its inherent toughness when they parted ways with Kendrick Perkins. In terms of sheer talent, they’ve got nothing on the Heat, but the Celtics will make this interesting because of their grit and slug-it-out-in-the-trenches style. LeBron James and Rajon Rondo will each get at least one triple-double game in the series. KG, his age notwithstanding, will play marginally better than Bosh. But I think it’s Dwyane Wade, whom I’ve always liked, who’ll get Miami over the hump. LeBron can thank Wade in two weeks when the King finally gets past Boston, but they’ll definitely get bumped, bruised and scratched along the way.

Thunder over Grizzlies in 6

Rudy Gay won't be there to guard Kevin Durant
(image by Layne Murdoch/Getty Images)
In some ways, the Memphis Grizzlies are like the Denver Nuggets. They both have spunk and swagger. They both have great post presences. They have great shooters. What’ll make Memphis a tougher nut to crack than Denver is Tony Allen. He’ll probable defend both Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant at different points, and his speed and tenacity should make things a little difficult for the Oklahoma all-stars. But just like the Nuggets, Memphis will find out that this is Oklahoma City’s breakthrough year. The Thunder went 1-3 against Memphis in the regular season with Zebo averaging a monster double-double and Allen finishing with his best scoring clip (18.8ppg against OKC), but Scott Brooks has an ace up his sleeve that makes all that irrelevant in the playoffs: Kendrick Perkins. Perk didn’t play in any of those 4 games (the Grizzlies had Rudy Gay in two games), and he should hold down Zebo much better than Duncan or McDyess or Splitter did in the first round. Zebo will definitely feel more pains and aches here than in any other series he’s ever played. This also frees up Serge Ibaka to defend the paint and take on Marc Gasol, which should prove to be quite even. All in all, this should be one of the most exhilarating match-ups to watch in the postseason with Durant and Westbrook silencing Memphis’s maddening crowd.

Lakers over Mavericks in 6

Can Tyson Chandler contain Andrew Bynum?
(image by Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images)
The Lakers are on an upswing and not even a resurgent Dallas team can stop them. Dirk Nowitzki closed out Portland with aplomb in Game 6, but they had their problems defending the Blazers’ wingmen. And who are the wingmen for LA? 6th Man of the Year Lamar Odom is there. So is the beastly Ron Artest. And, yeah, that guy with number 24 on his back. Mark Cuban’s dudes can give Phil Jackson some testy moments, but Dallas is just not at LA’s level right now. Not in the playoffs. If Dallas has an ace, though, it’s gotta be Jason Terry. The man has a point to prove about that 6th man thing. But because he’ll probably have to man Kobe with some regularity, his explosiveness might be muted. Of course LA’s fans are expecting Andrew Bynum to continue his stellar play. Tyson Chandler is athletic enough to match up with Bynum, but then again who’ll take on Pau Gasol? The Spaniard hasn’t been himself lately, but if he goes up against the Dunking Deutschman then he should improve on his first round showing. When the smoke clears here, Pau’s the only Gasol who’ll move on to the third round.

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3 Comment

ANYBODY BUT THE HEAT!?!?!? Anybody but the LAKERS, man


Believe me I used to feel that way for the LONGEST time, and I still hope the Lakers won't win it! But, at least for this year, the last-est team I want to win is Miami, and then the Lakers a close second.