2012 First Round Preview

Yes, this preview is 1-2 games late but hey, better late than never. If someone paid me a sports journalist salary, perhaps I may have gotten this up sooner but that’s life. This is not a stats-oriented thesis but just a general view. Anyway, here we go:

BULLS-SIXERS

It is terrible to lose a player of Derrick Rose’s caliber but luckily, the Bulls have the greatest mind in basketball this side of Tex Winter. Coach Thibodeau knows the game and with 50 wins with Rose injured all season, this team is capable of going deep with or without him. While Rose gives them the superstar punch, he’s still a point guard and I never like playing the odds with a point guard since they are never as efficient as one might think. What they gain (increased awareness, intensity) with Rose down might make up for the loss in scoring and leadership. The Bulls are highly experienced vets and they play the game the right way. I don’t think they would have beaten the Heat this year anyway but they certainly can beat the sixers who are just mediocre at every position. Bulls in 5.

HEAT-KNICKS

The Knicks have chemistry and injury issues but none of that matters because the Heat are on another level. Lebron looks like a man possessed and he is in his physical prime. Maybe Jeremy Lin can provide a spark but for what? Let’s hope NY can come back next year and Melo will learn how to play off the ball with Lin if he is still around. Let’s also hope that Amare starts to care more about defense than touches. This one is easy, the Heat should sweep.

MAGIC-PACERS

Most people think the Pacers have this one but I’m believing in Orlando. Why? I value experience more than the loss of Dwight Howard. Orlando can beat Indiana in Mavericks-style fashion with a perimeter assault as long as Indiana’s bigs can be kept in check. Howard’s defensive loss can be mitigated by a more fluid offense. Plus, his free throws won’t be missed. Indiana is untested in the playoffs and Danny Granger hasn’t become the player we thought he could be. This one may go to Orlando in 6 or 7.

CELTICS-HAWKS

Time may have run out on Boston. With Allen hobbled, Rondo out for game 2, and everyone older, this is the best time for the athletic and generally experienced Hawks to take them down. If not for the condensed schedule, I may have gone with Boston but this time, I think fresher legs will beat legs that are too old. Hawks in 6.

SPURS-JAZZ

The Spurs have shown that you can flick a switch. Duncan has had a rebirth and these guys seem to be smarter than everyone else. They are just too experienced, good, and legendary for the Jazz. These Spurs are title contenders again. Spurs in 5.

THUNDER-MAVERICKS

These are not last year’s Mavs and the Thunder are a year older and hungrier. But Dallas should put up a fight as they are the champs. Too bad they are facing serious talent in Durant, Westbrook, and Harden – whom I consider the game’s most brilliant and esoteric player. OKC takes this one in 6 but it will be tough to beat even a weakened champion.

LAKERS-NUGGETS

A team first Kobe is the most dangerous Kobe and he seems to be playing like it. But the power in LA comes from their unfair advantage in having the two best big men in the game. Let them play and you will win – with or without Kobe. Denver has a shot with their faster pace and exploiting Ron Artest’s absence but the Lakers are just too big inside. Lakers in 5-6.

CLIPPERS-GRIZZLIES

This one is no doubt the closest series. The Grizz earned their stripes last year going deep but was it a fluke? They have great perimeter players but I am always betting my house on superior inside men. Therefore, I am going with the inside power of Griffin, Kenyon and Jordan meshing with Chris Paul’s silky stroke and leadership. Clippers in 6 or 7.

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