Re: East and West
posted at 11/24/2010 6:49 PM EST
If the playoffs started today, here's my predictions...
Eastern Conference playoffs:
Boston vs. Cleveland (5 games)
Boston vs. Miami (6 games)
Boston vs. Orlando (6 games)
All of this is assuming we're healthy and ready to rock. Cleveland is whatever, 5 games at the most... Miami could be tough but I say we beat 'em in 6. Orlando will be a bit sore from last year and I wouldn't underestimate Dwight Howard, but even if we didn't have home court advantage, with Perk back, Shaq and a possibly healthy JO, our front court, Rondo and Kevin Garnett would be way too much for Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson and a swiftly dwindling Rashard Lewis. WITH home court it's a slam dunk and I say we take them out in 6 as well.
Western Conference playoffs:
1. San Antonio
2. Los Angeles
3. New Orleans
4. Oklahoma City
Lakers vs. Portland (5 games)
Lakers vs. New Orleans (7 games)
Lakers vs. San Antonio (7 games and win/loss)
Portland is hurting right now but it's always been tough for the Lakers to win in the Rose Garden so I say that Portland wins at least one game there to make it somewhat respectable. New Orleans is a much different story and I could see them winning every game on their home court, thus pushing the Lakers to a final, close game in Los Angeles.
Now, the Spurs, which I think sort of changes everything. The Lakers MUST respect a healthy Spurs team. They're champions. Unlike the other Western teams the Spurs are like the Celtics, experienced winners/veterans looking for one last bit of glory. They're healthier this year and seem to be firing on all cylinders and because of all this they're physically and mentally tough. They're also very well coached. Lakes are not much bigger physically but they got true 7 footers where it counts in Gasol and Bynum, provided he stays healthy. If the Spurs are truly as good as they look (they've had a harder schedule than LA so far) then I think they could easily push the Lakeshow to 7, and if they have home court advantage over LA then it should be an upset.
With all that said, I think unlike last year the Western Conference is the one to watch and that unlike previous years the Lakers aren't exactly a lock to go to the finals, especially considering they may not even have the number one seeding. Of course, Spurs might pull a Celtics and slow things down to rest their veterans and New Orleans probably won't get the top spot, so I could easily see LA taking the number one seed after all. But, I am excited that things look a little harder for the Lakers than they have been in the past few years and that may just help the Celtics win it all this year.