The East is very top heavy in that the top five teams (Pistons, Bulls, Cavs, Raptors, and Heat) are far beyond the bottom three, as a result, I don't think we are going to see such a great first round out East. That's why my preview of the Eastern Confrence Playoffs (below) focuses on the second round. In the West, however, there are some good matchups out there from the get go. Unfortunately for them, Denver just sealed up the sixth seed, earning them a date with the Spurs (most likely). I truly think that Denver could have, and might have, upset the Suns. But against the Spurs, who are the NBA's best at shutting down running teams, I'm not sure they can win a game.
I'm praying that Golden State catches the Clippers and the lakers fall out. I think a Clippers/Suns series would be good, but I'm really looking forward to a match between Dallas and Golden State. Don Nelson has always done a good job coaching against his former teams, and I think GS's high paced offence can give Dallas fits. I don't expect an upset, but I wouldn't be surprised if it takes Dallas six games to get it.
If the Lakers do play the Suns, we've got a rematch of what ended up being a good series last year. However, I don't see the Lakers playing the calibre of ball they were at this time last season. Raja Bell does a better job on Kobe than 90% of the league. That said, if the Lakers can get it together, their big front line has what it takes to give the Suns trouble at times. We've already seen that this matchup can be a good one, but it depends on how well Phil Jackson can rally the troops.
Finally, we have Houston/Utah, which I think is going to be a grind it out battle between the two of the most overlooked teams in the NBA. When it comes down to it, I think Houston is going to be too much defense for the already suspect Jazz offense, but if the Jazz take the series, no one will be surprised, least of all me.
For the second round, all eyes are going to be on San Antonio and Phoenix, but I'm not sure Phoenix is capable of taking three games off the Spurs, who are should be called the Maestros because they are so good at controling tempo. Much more fun to me will be the Houston/Dallas match, featuring two of the best hard nosed, defensive minded coaches in the NBA. Van Gundy and Johnson imbue their teams with a toughness that alot of teams lack. I expect this series to be hard fouht. I'm not sure Houston has what it takes to get it to six or seven, but they might. And whatever games there are will be highly entertaining contests.
Finally, we're going to have Dallas/San Antonio in the matchup that everybody wants to see. Last year's series was one of the best playoff matchups I've ever seen, I can't imagine that this year can be better, but basketball fans around the world are praying.
All in all, I think we are in store for a great couple of months of playoff basketball. Once the seedings are solidified I'll post my formal predictions.