Round 1 Eastern Conference Preview

The  playoffs are upon us. The trade deadline is long gone and teams have meshed. Everyone knows each other and what to expect. There are some usual suspects and neither conference is going to be the cakewalk that it looked to be back in January. Other than a select one or two, every first round series is entirely watchable, which is more than we could say in the last few seasons when the East had three good teams and that was the extent of it. Not the case this year. There are plenty of players that are well worth watching. James, Kobe, Carmelo, Durant, Howard, Rose, Wade, Josh Smith, and Brandon Jennings are all going to do their share as far as providing compelling stories and drama.

Cavs (1) v. Bulls (8)

I’m looking into my crystal ball that makes highly obvious predictions and it is telling me….that the Cavs advance to the second round without any issues. Thanks crystal ball!

The Bulls are the perfect warmup before the real fun begins. These four game should provide just enough of a test for the Cavs to find a rythym and they could be firing on all cylinders for Roudn 2. I fully expect a sweep. The Cavs are going to roll for the obvious reasons. This series will be virtually drama free. If watching LeBron and Rose wasn’t so damn entertaining this series wouldn’t even make an appearance outside of the Ohio-Illinois area. Let’s try to find some storylines since this 4 game series will take a week and a half to complete.

Can Derrick Rose and the Bulls steal a game from the Cavs?

Will LeBron break a sweat?

Will Vinny Del Negro ever stop looking like a puzzled puppy?

Will the Bullls force Vinny Del Negro to wear a dunce cap for duration of the series?

Will Vinny Del Negro assaulted by a Chicago front office member before the end of Game 4?

These are the only questions that need to be answered since the outcome is inevitable.

Cavs in a clean sweep 4-0

Magic (2) v. Bobcats (7)

We’re getting warmer but this still not quite there. The Bobcats are a feisty team that will put up a decent fight. They have a good coach (Larry Brown), a leader who doesn’t shy away from big moments (Stephen Jackson), and they play solid team defense. Too bad these things only equate to 1, maybe 2 wins.

This Orlando team confuses me in the sense that I don’t know whether or not they are better than the ’09 model Magic. On one hand, Dwight Howard is much better offensively than he was a year ago and the bitter taste of losing the Finals on his homecourt last year will mean he is more motivated. Theo Ratliff could be driving a tank and Dwight is still going to go for 22-14 each game this series. They also added Matt Barnes and his much needed grit for 1.6 million before this season. Barnes has a ton of heart and does all the little things that don’t show up in the box score, which is good because Vince Carter has no heart and doesn’t do anything unless it shows in the boxscore. He’s the anti-Barnes.

It won’t matter this series but if the Magic are going to make it back to the Finals this year then Anti-Barnes will have to carry his weight and not disappear the first time he gets fouled in the paint as has been the case in the past. He won’t need to step up this round but he’ll need to the next or the Magic won’t make it very far.

Magic have a letdown or two but still cruise 4-2

Hawks (3) v. Bucks (6)

This series was ten times more competitive before Andrew Bogut’s arm was shattered in a million places two weeks ago. The Hawks should dominate just based on their athleticism and overall talent but the Bucks have some players who can fill it up. If the Bucks can come out and steal Game 1 then we’ll have a series on our hands. The Bucks will immediately steal home court and the Fear the Deer signs will be out in full force. All the pressure will be on Atlanta. I just don’t see that happening with Kurt Thomas starting at center instead of Bogut. They don’t have a steady defensive presence in the paint now and a reliable third scoring option. If you tell me that Milwaukee’s playoff chances rest on Jerry Stackhouse and Carlos Delfino picking up the scoring slack, my response will be, “Wait, Jerry Stackhouse is still in the league?”

The Hawks tend to have letdowns against sub-par teams but they’re in the playoffs now and that is going to help them stay focused. If Joe Johnson (free agent in 2010 remember) can take his game to another level the Hawks will cruise and have a puncher’s chance in the second round against the Magic. This will be an entertaining series, albeit a short one.

Bucks steal one but that’s it Hawks 4-1

Celtics (4) v. Heat (5)

I actually fell asleep twice typing out that header this matchup is so boring. A dream matchup for the Heat and just about any other team that qualified. The Celts are in a major funk and if they don’t snap out of it they are going to find themselves out in the first round without a coach or a general direction for the team. Unless you count getting older and being saddled with bad contracts a direction.

That being said, the Celtics won all three matchups against the Heat this year (including twice in Miami) and there more team-oriented game matches well against The Dwyane Wade Show. (By the way, does anyone else feel like the spelling of Dwyane Wade is a terrible mistake that was made while filling out his birth certificate? D-W-Y-A-N-E. That Y serves no purpose whatsoever. They could’ve put an I or an extra A even. It is actually making my head hurt just thinking about it.) No one else on that team can create their own shot. I’m pretty sure Miami could surround Wade with random players from the Y and the product would be the same.

The Celtics started the season 23-5 and pretty much aged overnight and finished 52-32. They finished the season 27-27. That’s .500 boys and girls. I don’t like this team at all and the Celtics feel the same way. The coach wants off this sinking ship. The players can’t wait for the season to be over. They’ll have to wait a series but not much longer than that.

Celtics squeak it out and no one is happy about it 4-3

Stay tuned for a Western Conference preview

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