REDCHAIR: Sports Editor
Prediction – December 2011/ Actual
1) Heat – Bulls 50-16
2) Bulls – Heat 46-20
3) Celtics – Pacers 42-24
4) Knicks – Celtics 39-27
5) Magic – Hawks 40-26
6) Hawks – Magic 37-29
7) Pacers – Knicks 36-30
8) 76ers – 76ers 35-31
(Finals: Heat & Thunder. Heat win in 6 Dec. 24, 2011)I will admit I’m not a huge regular season NBA fan. I enjoy watching games but as I’ve said for the last several years nothing matters until the playoffs begin. Once the playoffs begin I love it. It’s like the start of summer for me. Kobe and D Rose sitting on the bench to rest up for the playoffs helps prove my point that the regular season doesn’t matter. I managed to pick 14 of the 16 teams that are going to the playoffs and pretty close to their actual positioning so even if you’re not impressed with it I’m impressed with it and that’s all that counts!
Anyways the NBA playoffs begins Saturday so with the bracket set up this is who I believe will move on and who will be sent home early.
1 Bulls vs. 8 76ers – Although the 76ers started off playing really great basketball this season they have slowly regressed. They traded away one of their key bench players and now they just haven’t been clicking. Do I think they’ll show signs of it and make this is a fun series to watch? Yes I do. In the end the Bulls defense with D. Rose playing every game, whether he’s completely healthy or not, is enough for the Bulls to advance past the 76ers.
2. Heat vs. 7 Knicks – The Knicks have been an interesting team this season to say the least. The craze of Linsanity and Carmelo playing probably his beast basketball he’s ever played makes this a must see series to watch. Stoudemire and Carmelo are both healthy going into the playoffs and the Knicks have good young players coming off the bench that can make a difference. I like Shumpert as a defender a lot and I think Fields doesn’t get enough credit. Novak is a great off the bench shooter who can give you points in bunches and J.R. Smith is also a great guy who can contribute and light a spark. Chandler will be there and I think he will neutralize Bosh in the paint during this series. If there is a major upset waiting to happen it could be this. The Heat haven’t been playing well rolling into the playoffs. As much as I do believe that the Knicks are better than a #7 seed I can’t help but stick with my early prediction and say the Heat will beat out the Knicks in this series. It will go seven games, or five, I can never remember if the first round is winning 3 games or 4 games.
3. Pacers vs. 6 Magic – This is an easy series for me to pick. Even though I never expected the Pacers to be good enough as a #3 seed I do know they have some nice pieces on their team even if I don’t consider any of them elite. The Magic won’t have Howard to my understanding with a back injury and that’s all I need to know that the Pacers will advance. Too much depth and Granger will probably go off for a few games.
4. Celtics vs. 5 Hawks – The criticism of the Celtics is always they’re getting old but I think Coach Rivers has done a great job with this team as they’ve aged. He’s changed up the roles of the team. He takes Garnett out early with the first squad and let’s him play with the second unit a lot more and be the go-to guy when Pierce and Allen are resting on the bench. The Hawks have talent I’ll give them that. I just don’t feel like they have that one player who can step up and get them over the hump in crunch situations. When they were getting by last season they relied on their sixth man Crawford for some big three pointers. I love the Celtics Bradley and Pietrus for their quickness and defensive ability. I think they’ll be big in this series and do the things the average fan doesn’t notice.
1. Bulls vs. 4 Celtics – Another good matchup and series that I will enjoy watching. As much as I do like giving Bulls fans shit, I do like the Bulls and I like to see them do well. It’s just I don’t want them to do better than my Thunder but I’m getting off topic. Derrick Rose vs. the combo of Rondo/Bradley will be a great matchup to watch. I think the Bulls youth along with their depth (Korver, Asik, Gibson, and Brewer) will be the difference. Bulls preach defense and they live it. Deng has had a great year and I think has really come into his own when Rose was injured and someone had to step up. One of my biggest problems with the Bulls last year was Boozer but he even seems to be playing better. The only worry I have in this series is that Rose has taken too much time off and isn’t his self and makes some key turnovers or he reinjures himself and the Celtics are able to take advantage. If Rose stays healthy the Bulls will advance to the Easter Conference finals.
3. Pacers vs. 2 Heat – If the Heat plays defense like I know they can and have shown I don’t think this series will be too hard for them. Granger is the only scorer to worry about and LeBron can neutralize him. I like Paul George in this series if he guard Wade. I just think the quickness of the Heat attacking a slow Hibbert will get the Pacers bigs in foul trouble and the Heat will just keep attacking the rim and win the series at the foul line. See you in the Eastern Conference finals Miami Heat.
1. Bulls vs. Heat – Oh the long awaited rematch. Small things have changed since last season but they are good improvements. Last season the Heat lacked depth and Wade and LeBron seemed to wear down a lot late in games. The Bulls didn’t have that other guy at shooting guard who could make big shots. The bulls went out and picked up Rip Hamilton who, although an aging veteran, has proved himself in the playoffs. The Heat added depth that they needed. Haslem came back for a full season. They drafted Norris Cole who is a spark and can spark the second unit on office and run the offense when LeBron and Wade are on the bench. They also added Battier who is a proven veteran and is a guy that can shutdown key players on the defensive end. He’s a guy that does things that don’t show up on the stat sheets. D Rose will be banged up by this series and I don’t see Hamilton being a big enough factor in this series. Deng will do a good job but he will mostly be guarded by LeBron and he will be marginalized. I think the Heat made enough additions that they will still advance to the NBA Finals.