The NBA playoffs begin Saturday, so with that being said, here are Matt Noonan’s predictions for the first round.
Eastern Conference – First Round Predictions:
(1) Chicago Bulls vs. (8) Indiana Pacers – It is a great story to see the Indiana Pacers back in the NBA playoffs, but the Chicago Bulls are too talented of a team to lose this series. The Bulls finished with the best record in basketball, so expect their winning ways to continue. Chicago win the series, 4-1.
(2) Miami Heat vs. (7) Philadelphia 76ers – Finally, the “Big-3” will get to play in their first playoff game together, but hopefully there won’t be any tears in the locker room, but who knows? Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra should have no problem leading his team past an up and coming 76ers squad coached by the great Doug Collins. Also, expect LeBron James to say to his teammates prior to tip-off, “give me the ball if you want to win at least one series.” James and the Heat will win this series. Miami wins the series, 4-2.
(4) Orlando Magic vs. (5) Atlanta Hawks – Why does it seem that every year these two teams always meet in the playoffs? How much do you want to bet that both the Hawks and Magic have dinner, practice and hang out together too? Would Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy even allow that to happen? I doubt it! Orlando wins the series, 4-2.
Western Conference – First Round Predictions:
(1) San Antonio Spurs vs. (8) Memphis Grizzlies – San Antonio has clearly been one of the better teams all season, but now the age factor is catching up with them, but against the Grizzlies, consider this an easy first round series. San Antonio wins the series, 4-0.
(2) Los Angles Lakers vs. (7) New Orleans Hornets – After winning the 2010 NBA Championship, the Lakers were picked to repeat and face the Boston Celtics again.Boring! However, both teams have struggled, but with Andrew Bynum somewhat banged up and Los Angles’s age becoming a factor, expect the Hornets to challenge the old men, but in the end, the men who wear the purple and gold jerseys should win. Los Angles wins the series, 4-2.
(3) Dallas Mavericks vs. (6) Portland Trail Blazers – Talk about a true toss-up, either team could win this series. The Trail Blazers have had their moments all season, while the Mavericks looked like a pretty good team at times. However, after watching Dirk Nowitzki dance on YouTube, I may have to go with the underdog to win this series. Portland wins the series, 4-3.
(4) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (5) Denver Nuggets – Denver is an absolute mess these days and after trading away half their team to New York, it seems they imitated the Boston Celtics of 2010, who see-sawed their way to the finish line last year. Kevin Durant will shine in this series, as well as lead Oklahoma past Denver, so get excited Thunder fans. Maybe Denver should focus on the Colorado Rockies, who are playing quite well these days. Oklahoma wins the series, 4-2.
Similar to the Boston Bruins, Noontime Sports has provided a few thoughts on the Boston Celtics, as well as their playoff chances. Will they win their 18th NBA title in franchise history? Who knows, but here is what we believe will happen with the Boston Celtics.
Thoughts on the Boston Celtics: Well here comes another playoffs series, whoop-di-doo!
Are you excited? Revved up and ready for a championship run? Who thinks this Boston Celtics team has what it takes to go the distance?
Stop right there. Who truly believes this group of veterans and young guns has what it takes to earn Banner 18?
Unfortunately, I don’t feel the urge to root for this team primarily because every member of this squad, including head coach Doc Rivers and point guard Rajon Rondo haven’t gotten over the Kendrick Perkins departure from February. Instead of coping with it or learning to move on, the Celtics, who were [41-14] at the time of the trade, fell apart and finished their final 27-games with a [15-12] record.
A majority of their efforts were put into grieving over the loss of Perkins, who may or may not have been the true part of “Ubuntu.” Yet, Perkins was part of that starting five, which featured himself, Rondo, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett that never lost a playoff series. They were the ones who were able to boast about beating the Los Angles Lakers in 2008.
Yet, there were also times when the “starting-5” was missing Garnett or Perkins, but again, this was the core group of guys that defined Celtics basketball, especially in the 21st century, but again, Perkins was a key part to their success, despite all of his fouls and frowns.
On Sunday the Celtics begin their quest for Banner 18 without Perkins or the essential member of team “Shrek and Donkey,” (Glen Davis and Nate Robinson).
There are indeed some new faces, such as Carols Arroyo, Jeff Green, Nenad Kristic and Troy Murphy, but is every Green and White supporter excited to see these guys contribute toward bringing Boston yet another championship? I don’t think so.
If you had the chance to catch part IV of ESPN’s “The Association,” which was a documentary series that followed the Celtics all season, the final chapter clearly summed up the fact that this team is not ready to contend for a championship. Doc Rivers and Rajon Rondo again seem dumbfounded by the trade, but Kevin Garnett though hasn’t lost his mojo.
The Celtics are also faced with the daunting task of wondering how much Jermaine O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal will help this club. Can they make a difference or be the catalysts in a possible downfall? Both players signed up as aging veterans who wanted one more shot at redemption or possibly the chance to play in a NBA Finals, but unless these two stars figure out a way to stay healthy, they could possibly go down as the two biggest busts in Celtics lore.
There are a lot of questions surrounding the team, but the only way we’ll find out what this team is made of is when the New York Knicks invade the TD Garden for games 1 and 2 on Sunday and Tuesday. After two games, the Celtics may provide us with some answers or ideas, but again, should we call Las Vegas and consider them a lock to win the title? Nope, please don’t!
Although, if Celtics fans learned anything last year, it is that the regular season can’t truly predict what will happen in the post-season or who is a guaranteed winner. Sure, the Chicago Bulls maybe the best team in basketball, but do they have what it takes to win a NBA championship?
Does Kobe Bryant have enough fuel in his tank to lead his Los Angles Lakers to the finish line or will the Miami Heat’s “Big-3” put aside their difference and win their first of possibly seven titles, according to LeBron James?
The NBA post-season is a long and enduring process, but again, who knows where this Celtics team can go, so just sit back, relax and wait until Sunday evening for some answers.
Prediction: Again, this Celtics team is a true “wild-card.” They could win it all or possibly flop out after round one against the New York Knicks. Doc Rivers is definitely one of the top five sideline generals in the NBA, so as long as he can keep his team motivated or focused, then they’ll advance. If any funny business occurs or if the team doesn’t respond to Rivers, then consider it another year without a championship.
The Celtics will most likely win their first round series against the New York Knicks in six games and then lose to the Miami Heat during the second round of the NBA playoffs.
NBA Finals Prediction: Chicago Bulls vs. San Antonio Spurs, (Bulls win the series in seven games, 4-3).