1. Detroit vs. 8. Orlando
Pistons in 5
Orlando wins my award for most disappointing team in the NBA. Now they find themselves in a no win situation against the Pistons. Detroit won the season series 4-0, and I see very little reason for them not to sweep. The only thing that might hurt the Pistons is their tendency to play down to the competition. Hopefully this will subside come playoff time, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they come out flat and allow the Magic to steal a game. Look for Howard to have a big series no matter the outcome; he averaged 21 and 14 against Detroit during the regular season
2. Cleveland vs. 7. Washington
Cleveland in 4
This was the rematch everyone wanted, but unfortunately for fans world wide, the Wizards just don’t have the weapons to get it done. This was the only match up that I didn’t look at the numbers for. That said, I expect some of the games to be close. Washington has been playing some good ball since Arenas went down, losing five of their games in April by less than 10 points. Antonio Daniels and Deshawn Stevenson have been playing good ball and will do their best to keep it close. In the end, Washington just doesn’t have the weapons to get the job done.
3. Toronto vs. 6. New Jersey
Toronto in 6
Home court means everything in this match up. During the regular season, the home team won every game, with Carter being fairly terrible in both games in Toronto. He shot a combined 9-32 in the two games in Toronto, though he was good for ten assists in the second one. New Jersey has been playing some very good ball lately, but I think Toronto makes for some match up problems. While Chris Bosh has struggled a bit against the Nets’ front line (17 and 7), I don’t think Jason Kidd has the speed to keep up with Ford in a 7 game series. Toronto has the ability to push the tempo, and while New Jersey is a good running team in general, Carter’s game is better suited for the half court.
EDIT: I'm very surprised that most of the online sports world disagrees with me here.
4. Miami vs. 5. Chicago (Chicago has home court)
Chicago in 7
The biggest loser tonight, other than Chicago (who dropped from 2 to 5), was Miami. I think Miami matches up much better against Cleveland, they would have won that series. Chicago has the best low post defense in the East, and they will do a very good job on Shaq. The only game the Bulls lost this season was an utter blow out (103-70) in which they had 20 turnovers and shot 35%. This will not happen night in and night out. Wade is Wade, and will be good for a few wins, but I still think Chicago is the hottest team in the East and will be too tough for this very good Miami team.
EDIT: I am not surprised that the majority of the online sports world disagrees with me here.
1. Detroit vs. 5. Chicago: Detroit in 7
(I should say that I still believe that this series could go either way. I give it to Detroit simply because Chicago will be comming off a much more difficult series and Detroit is better equiped to go a full 7 games.)
2. Cleveland vs. 3. Toronto: Cleveland in 6
Finals: 1. Detroit vs. 2. Cleveland: Detroit in 7
These are my predictions as I see them. When the first round ends, I'll revaluate these and provide full analysis for the second round.