2012 NBA Playoffs Preview: NBA PLAYOFFS - EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
NBA Season Preview History
(2) MIAMI HEAT vs. (4) BOSTON CELTICS
The Celtics will have their hands full stopping the Lebron and Dewayne show and with homecourt advantage in Miami’s back pocket, Kevin Garnett and crew will have to win in Miami if they want a chance at making the NBA finals.
The Heat had a tough battle on their hands with the Pacers after going down 2-1, but they eventually came storming back to win three games in a row to set up the conference final matchup with Boston. The Celtics went seven games with the 76ers before finally finishing them off in Beantown.
NBA PLAYOFFS - WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
(1) SAN ANTONIO SPURS vs. (2) OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
There are an abundance of reasons why the Thunder should win this series. Kevin Durant is the best scorer in the NBA; Russell Westbrook is one of the most dynamic point guards in recent memory; they just absolutely demolished the Los Angeles Lakers in five games. The list goes on.
There are just as many reasons San Antonio should waltz into the NBA Finals. Eighteen of them, in fact.
The Spurs have the experience the Thunder lack, they have one of the greatest big men in NBA history in Tim Duncan still at the top of his game and have won an astounding 18 consecutive games including a four-game obliteration of the Clippers in the conference semifinals. San Antonio will enjoy the home court-advantage it earned in the regular season while it seeks the franchise’s fifth championship since 1999.
San Antonio will need to find a way to stop Durant and Westbrook, a task that can’t be taken lightly. NBA Coach of the Year Greg Popovich does seem to always find an answer to every riddle, as the Spurs bottled up Blake Griffin and Chris Paul with ease in the conference semifinals. Tiago Splitter and DeJuan Blair will be key in winning the battle in the paint. 2012 Conference Semifinals:
(4) BOSTON CELTICS vs. (8) PHILADELPHIA 76ERS
One thing is for sure in this conference semifinal: both teams are extremely happy the first round is over. The Celtics get in physical battles with the Hawks every year it seems, and a mini-rivalry has started to brew. The 76ers made it past the Bulls – a #1 seed without their #1 star. Both were over in six games and now they’ll be tussling for a shot at the conference final.
Led by the “Big Three” once again, Boston is a veteran team with experience and a championship under its belt. Garnett turned it on after being goaded by the Hawks front office and is playing as well as he has in years. Rajon Rondo has proven to be the most instrumental part of the Boston five, playing key roles in scoring, defense, rebounding and of course assists. The former Kentucky point guard can do it all, and it will be interesting to see how Philadelphia head coach Doug Collins tries to subdue him.
The 76ers are led by Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand , while Jrue Holiday has proven to be the team’s x-factor. Holiday is averaging 16.9 points per game, but from the 13.5 average in the regular season. The Sixers have won every post-season game in which he has scored over 16 points in 2012.
(2) MIAMI HEAT vs. (3) INDIANA PACERS
The Heat and Pacers did their jobs in round one, putting down the Knicks and Magic the way most thought they would. Now it’s time to see if the Pacers are up to the task of facing the new ‘Big 3.’ LeBron James is likely to win the NBA MVP this season, and with Dewayne Wade and Chris Bosh at his side, anything but a championship will be considered a failure.
The Heat disposed of the Knicks in five games with the series never in any real doubt. Same for the Pacers, as they blew Orlando out of the water after a game one loss, winning the next four games by a combined “” points. The Pacers have the team filled with lots of talent but not much in big names, as even though Danny Granger has proven to be one of the best players in the NBA, he’s nowhere near a household name. The same goes for Roy Hibbert, George Hill and Delonte West – three very good players with only minimal name recognition nationally. Sneaking up and eliminating the Heat from the playoffs would do a lot to change all of that.
2011 NBA Playoffs Preview:
The NBA playoffs are here, and TicketCity has broken down each series so you can look out for the most important subplot to enjoy!
No. 1 Chicago Bulls vs. No. 8 Indiana Pacers
While the Indiana Pacers have a good base with Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert and the out-of-nowhere resurgence of Tyler Hansborough late in the season, the Bulls just have too much talent across the board for the Pacers to overcome. Whether it’s the MVP-worthy work of Derrick Rose, the intense defense of Joakim Noah or the perimeter game of Carlos Boozer, it looks like the Bulls will continue their best season since Michael Jordan lorded over the Windy City.
No. 2 Miami Heat vs. No. 7 Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers have been one of the best teams in the NBA since November, when they got off to a horrible 3-13 start. Solid play from a resurgent Elton Brand, Andre Iguodala and youngsters Jrue Holiday and Thaddeus Young have given Philadelphia a great look to the future. But in their way to the second round are the Miami Heat, or the Heatles, as most have taken to calling them. While the 76ers would give a lot of teams trouble in the first round, Miami is the one it doesn’t. Philly’s smaller players don’t match up well with Miami’s perimeter players. It will be interesting though to see how the Heat react in the playoffs for the first time with their current line-up.
No. 4 Orlando Magic vs. No. 5 Atlanta Hawks
While most people will look at the thumping the Magic gave the Hawks in last year’s playoffs, Atlanta has to remember two things: this is 2011, and they took three of four from Orlando this year. Also, the Hawks have kept superstar Dwight Howard in check more than any other team this season, with a dour 43% shooting from the field. It will be up to the Hawks’ ace Joe Johnson to ratchet up the score in Atlanta’s favor to finally overcome last year’s early playoff-exit heartache.
No. 3 Boston Celtics vs. No. 6 New York Knicks
Boston limped into the playoffs, the Knicks did the opposite—winners of 7 of their last 10. There’s star power galore in this series, but the question is whether the Celtics, after trading one of their best inside players in Kedrick Perkins, can play the inside-outside game with the likes of Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. While the C’s have one of the toughest defenders ever in Kevin Garnett, it’s not the best sign for Boston that they are looking to the oft-injured O’Neal boys – Shaquille and Jermaine – to help out in front. Look for a tough, tough battle up-and-down the court in what should be one of the highlight series of the first round.
No. 1 San Antonio Spurs vs. No. 8 Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies are younger and fresher. The Spurs are older and have been plagued with injuries the last few weeks before the end of the regular season. That should make things more even for the Grizzlies, whose playoff experience veterans are Tony Allen and Shane Battier, who came in mid-season. Opposed to the Spurs’ trio of Tim Duncan (four titles), Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli (three titles each), the novice Grizzlies will be hard pressed to overcome the playoff-stage jitters. They do have Zach Randolph, however, who will punish the Spurs’ front court, and Mike Conley, who will eat up the errant passes San Antonio is prone to toss later in games. San Antonio may be too much for the young Grizzlies, but this should be a fun one to watch, regardless.
No. 2 Los Angeles Lakers vs. No. 7 New Orleans Hornets
The Los Angeles Lakers dodged a bullet when their center Andrew Bynum’s knee injury, suffered two games before the season ended, wasn’t serious. It would have been one way for the quick Hornets to attack the Lakers, who with Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, form one of the most intimidating front court in the league. Alas for Chris Paul and company, their small size (especially Emeka Okafor, the solid, if undersized center) will be too much of an obstacle to overcome.
No. 3 Dallas Mavericks vs. No 6 Portland Trailblazers
After a mid-season trade brought Gerald Wallace to Portland, the Blazers became one of the toughest to beat. Wallace brings a tough-nosed attitude to a team that was about finesse and perimeter scoring with players like burgeoning superstar LaMarcus Aldridge, as well as Nicholas Batum, Rudy Fernandez and Wes Matthews. They’re going to need that toughness to deal with the Mavs’ Dirk Nowitzki on the inside. Between Dirk, Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood, Dallas has the strength to overpower the Blazers’ finesse offense, the question is whether Wallace and company can meet that challenge. If so, this series could be ripe for an upset.
No. 4 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. No. 5 Denver Nuggets
A fantastic run-and-gun series that’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser, these two teams will live up a billing of future stars run amok. On the Thunder side, you have the trio of All-World forward Kevin Durant, All-Star guard Russell Westbrook and Center Serge Ibaka. These three have just begun to gel, making it scary for the future in the Western Conference. On the Nuggets’ side, you have great players who were previously on the New York Knicks: Danillo Gallinari, Ty Lawson and Wilson Chandler. Traded to Denver in the Carmelo Anthony deal, these three give Denver the chance to pull this off. Whatever the case, we are in for a great series between these two up-and-coming teams.
NBA 2009-2010 Season Preview:
The 2009-2010 NBA season should be another great one for basketball. The league is full of marquee players and playoff caliber teams. The question appears to be which superstar will be strong enough to lead their team to the NBA Finals. A few of the top contenders for the 2010 NBA Finals include the Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando Magic and San Antonio Spurs.
2010 NBA Playoffs Preview:
Will the Los Angeles Lakers return to the NBA finals for the third straight year? Can the aging Boston Celtics still contend in an increasingly competitive Eastern Conference? How good is Dirk Nowitzki in the clutch? Are the league's powerhouses too good to suppress an explosive underdog like the Oklahoma City Thunder?
For every storyline of the 2010 NBA playoffs, there are a handful of burning questions that fans must wait to have answered. But one thing is for certain this year - all eyes will be on LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers as the young superstar battles to take home the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy. A championship for the Cavs would allow James to lay claim to his standing as the league's best player, and would firmly place him among basketball's greats. But perhaps more importantly, an NBA championship may be the factor that decides whether the luminary stays in Cleveland or packs his bags for a new city during the offseason.
Dwight Howard's Orlando Magic, Joe Johnson's Atlanta Hawks, Kobe Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers, and Carmelo Anthony's Denver Nuggets will be among the fierce competitors standing in the way of the Cavaliers.
As the 2010 NBA playoffs get underway, fans are left wondering: will King James reign supreme, will Kobe claim another ring, or will Kevin Durant show that there's a new kid in title town?