The 2011 NBA playoffs, is just around the corner. It will be the New York Knicks first playoff run after years of dry spell. And the Memphis Grizzlies finally got back to the playoffs after going through a lot of rebuilding. However, they will also have to face the mighty San Antonio Spurs in the first round as their reward which is not so inspiring. And as the Chicago Bulls continues to roll, they will eventually face the inevitable Miami Heat or the Boston Celtics, which will be one of the most intriguing and exciting to watch. Will the defending champions L.A. Lakers make it this time with Andrew Bynum’s questionable knees? Allow me to give my 2011 NBA playoffs first round predictions.
(1)Chicago Bulls (62-20) – (8) Indiana Pacers (37-45)
-With MVP candidate Derrick Rose very determined to take the Bulls back into their championship glory. The Pacers won’t be a hindrance to Chicago’s hope. However, the Pacers won’t just bow down without giving them a good fight. They can match the Bulls’ size and athleticism but with the Bulls offensive prowess, I wonder if there is really a fight going to happen.
(2) Miami Heat (58-24) – (7) Philadelphia 76ers (41-41)
– The 76ers is one of the surprising teams that got into the playoffs. With Andre Iguadala understanding his new role as a team orchestrator, Philadelphia has been winning games more than what people expected. Unfortunately, the magical run stays in the first round. They will have to face the talented Miami Heat which is determined to prove everybody wrong. One team exceeds expectations and the other playing as what they are expected. When they say except the unexpected this is clearly not applicable in this series.
(3) Boston Celtics (56-26) – (6) New York Knicks (42-40)
-This is the most exciting first round series you look forward to. New York parades two superstars in Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, while Boston depends solely on their big three with Rajon Rondo. However, with Shaq’s injury and Jermaine Oneal not yet a hundred percent, Boston definitely misses the services of Kendrick Perkins. However, the Knicks doesn’t have the size to match up either. So it’s “even Steven” for both teams. Will the Knicks jelling as a team affects their series or will Boston’s age come out? I will have to go with Boston on this, but I won’t bet my money on it.
(4) Orlando Magic (52-30) – (5) Atlanta Hawks (44-38)
-The Hawks made a good move in trading Mike Bibby for Kirk Hinrich. They added height and a defensive presence on the back court which is very important in their series with the Orlando Magic. Although it doesn’t resolve their problem down low with Dwight Howard, but they could at least disrupt the Magic’s offense. If there is an upset on the first round then the Hawks could be that team. However, with Orlando’s size and offense and with the Hawks missing an inside presence it’s still unlikely for them to win the series. I still like Atlanta’s chances but Orlando will still come out winning this series.
(1) San Antonio Spurs (61-21) – (8) Memphis Grizzlies (46-36)
– We congratulate the Memphis Grizzlies for clinching their first playoff slot in five years. However, they will have to dig deeper if they want to go through the first round. They signed Shane Battier, who could really help them guard Manu Ginobili in the back court. But without the services of the injured Rudy Gay their offense will surely suffer. The Spurs have all the right buttons to push even with the aging Tim Duncan. We are talking about a team that has been playing together for years and are now reaping the fruits of their labor.
San Antonio (4-0)
(2) Los Angeles Lakers (57-25) – (7) New Orleans Hornets (46-36)
– The defending champions have struggled lately and to top things off their defensive center Andrew Bynum got injured on their last two games of the season. However, we can never question the heart of a champion. This would be Phil Jackson’s last season, and they are more determined now especially with a lot of adversities they have encountered. The New Orleans Hornets won’t be a problem for the Lakers. Especially when their number one scorer David West got injured and their superstar Chris Paul is nursing an injured leg.
Los Angeles (4-0)
(3) Dallas Mavericks (57-25) – (6) Portland Trail Blazers (48-34)
-When you have the Celtics and the Knicks duel in the East we have the Mavericks and the Trail Blazers in the West. Dallas seems to be a consistent powerhouse in the West, and they have a healthy Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd is finding his range beyond the arc. However, Portland has always been the dark horse in this conference and adding up Gerald Wallace to the mix makes it more intriguing. The fact that both teams tied their regular season meeting at 2-2 and with the Mavs consistent playoff slot and inconsistent playoff performance an upset can likely happen.
(4) Oklahoma City Thunders (55-27) – (5) Denver Nuggets (50-32)
-The Thunders won their regular season meeting with the Nuggets with a 3-1 record. And with Kendrick Perkins coming back to form, the Nuggets are going to be in deep trouble. Without Carmelo Anthony and without a legitimate star on the Nuggets’ roster I find it hard to fathom if they could get through the first round. However, I applauded Denver’s fighting spirit for making it all the way to the fifth spot. With the Thunders’ athleticism and depth there won’t be any problem moving on to the second round.
Oklahoma City (4-1)
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