I have finished previewing each team in the Eastern Conference, predicting which teams will or will not make the playoffs and here is what I have come up with.
1. Miami Heat
4. Philadelphia 76ers
Miami Heat v. Chicago Bulls – In the first round of the playoffs, the Miami Heat will take on the Chicago Bulls, who hopefully have a healthy Derrick Rose. Even with a healthy Rose, I still think the Heat is more superior to the Bulls. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh will be way too much for the Bulls. The Heat will advance.
Boston Celtics v. Atlanta Hawks – A matchup of last year’s first round battle. I think what the Celtics did in the offseason will help them insurmountably. Doc Rivers seems to make things work, and the C’s still have Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. I expect Rajon Rondo to be the unsung MVP of the series though. The Celtics are too much for the Hawks.
Brooklyn Nets v. Indiana Pacers – I might be giving the Nets too much undeserved credit, but I think Joe Johnson, Deron Williams and Brook Lopez will mess nicely during the season. I think it will carry into the playoffs against the Pacers. The Pacers have depth and skill, but I think Lopez and Roy Hibbert will cancel each other out. Joe Johnson v. Paul George will be a fun matchup to watch. The Nets have the obvious advantage of having Williams, and he is clearly better than George Hill. This one goes the distance and to the Nets.
Philadelphia 76ers v. New York Knicks – This could be a very fun series to watch. I think Philadelphia’s defense is superb and we will find out how good Andrew Bynum is, as he will go up against Tyson Chandler. Can the 76ers limit Carmelo Anthony? If so, the 76ers can win this series. If not, I still think the 76ers will win the series. 76ers advance to the second round.
Miami Heat v. Philadelphia 76ers – We saw these two teams play two years ago. While I still feel the Heat will have the advantage, it won’t be by as much anymore. (Andrew) Bynum will be a tough guard for the Heat because they have no one who could guard him. I think Bynum will dominate the interior defenders of Miami. But at the end of day, Philadelphia has no one who can guard (LeBron) James and (Dwyane) Wade. I have the Heat going back to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Boston Celtics v. Brooklyn Nets – I don’t think the Celtics will dominate the Nets, but I think this series will be that close. The intensity that the C’s play with, defensively, will be enough to win this series. Although there will be a lot of good matchups to watch, the Celtics will get the better of the Nets in every one. I have the Celtics advancing.
Eastern Conference Finals:
Miami Heat v. Boston Celtics – For the second year in a row, we will get a great Conference Finals series. I think Boston will be better-equipped this time around. However, this series will come down to one player on each side. For Miami, it’s (LeBron) James. For Boston, it’s Rajon Rondo. Whoever plays better in this series will lead their team to the NBA Finals. Rondo will be an MVP-candidate this season, and even though he may not win it (MVP), James will lead his team back to the NBA Finals for a third straight season.