Basketball Prospectus: Unfiltered Everything Else is Fluff.

April 29, 2009

NBA playoffs: my picks

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bradford Doolittle @ 3:34 pm

It suddenly occurred to me that I never went on record here at the site with my playoff picks. That’s a bit of an oversight, I would say. Luckily, my picks are on record in a reputable publication, so the fact that I’m posting these now can’t be dismissed with a, “Yeah, sure you picked the Mavericks.”

However, the aforementioned “reputable publication” also edited out my picks for beyond the first round, an occupational hazard for those who work in that medium. So without too much elaboration, here’s how I saw the playoffs unfolding:

FIRST ROUND

  • Cleveland vs. Detroit: No way Cleveland loses a game in this series. No way. As such, Detroit’s six-year streak of reaching the conference finals is finally at an end. Cavaliers in four.
  • Atlanta vs. Miami: It’s hard to see Miami overcoming Atlanta’s homecourt advantage. A year from now, the growing Heat will have left Atlanta in its dust. Not this time around, though. Atlanta in six.
  • Orlando vs. Philadelphia: I think Philly can steal a game or two just as they did in its first-round matchup last season against Detroit. For a team that is almost exactly average, that’s about as good as the 76ers can hope for. Orlando in five.
  • Boston vs. Chicago: More competitive than it would have been had Garnett been healthy, this is still not going to be the series where Boston is dethroned. The Celtics have the edge in experience, defense and consistency. Boston in five.
  • LA Lakers vs. Utah: The Lakers may be challenged before the finals, but it won’t be in this one. This just hasn’t been Utah’s year. Lakers in five.
  • Portland vs. Houston: The Rockets are cursed in their recent first-round matchups. Portland is too deep, too athletic and is peaking at the right time. Portland in seven.
  • San Antonio vs. Dallas: It’s probably a mistake to count out a Gregg Popovich team this early in the playoffs, but this just seems like a matchup of teams headed in different directions. Because the overall indicators are so close, recent performance hold sway in this case. Mavericks in six.
  • Denver vs. New Orleans: The Nuggets have got to be one of the most unsung two-seeds in recent memory. No one is giving them a shot to make a deep run in the postseason and plenty of pundits are picking the Hornets in this series. The Nuggets aren’t really the second-best team in the West, but they are good enough to win this series, especially with homecourt in their hip pockets. Nuggets in six.

CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS

  • Cleveland vs. Atlanta: No chance for Atlanta, but a second-round appearance is a nice season for the Hawks. (Cavs in four)
  • Boston vs. Orlando: The Kevin Garnett injury tips the scales in what would have been a great series. Could be one anyway. (Magic in six)
  • LA Lakers vs. Portland: Great matchup, but comes one season too soon for Portland. (Lakers in six)
  • Denver vs. Dallas: This is what a high seed can do for a team. (Nuggets in seven)

CONFERENCE FINALS

  • Cleveland vs. Orlando: Not the matchup we expected, but will be plenty of fun anyway. (Cavs in five)
  • LA Lakers vs. Denver: A letdown. (Lakers in four)

NBA FINALS

  • Cleveland vs. LA Lakers: The Cavaliers won only one more game than the Lakers in the regular season, but most numerically-based rankings have the Cavaliers anywhere from four to six games better than the Lakers. This has the potential to be an iconic matchup at the Bird/Magic level. (Cavaliers in six)

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