Who advances to the second round???


Here are my predictions for the playoff matches coming up.

Western conference

1. Lakers vs  8. Thunder

As we all know the Lakers are limping into the playoffs with recent injuries to Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum and probably just lost Sasha Vujacic for the rest of the playoffs.  On the opposite side, the Thunder have had struggles as well losing very important games down the stretch to fall into the dreaded number 8 seed.  To me, the series will come down to the frontcourt and playoff experience, two areas where the Thunder are lacking.  The Lakers simply have too much height there and this is especially true with Bynum expected to return for game 1 and the Thunder lack experience in the playoffs while the Lakers have gone deep the last few seasons.   Lakers win in 5


2. Mavericks vs 7. Spurs

With Tony Parker back and Manu Ginobli going on a tear the last couple of months, this could be a very interesting series.  But everything would have to fall into place for San Antonio to win. The Mavericks are a better team than they were going into last year's playoffs as well. There's no doubt about that. Brendan Haywood's presence at the defensive end, Caron Butler in place of Josh Howard and a fully-in-charge Jason Kidd make it a better team.  Mavericks win in 6


3. Suns vs 6. Blazers

These two teams are on opposite sides of the spectrum.  The Suns have the best offense in the league and go into the series winning 14 out of 16 of their games while the Blazers prefer a slower pace and barely staved off an duel with the Lakers.  With the Blazers riddled with injury and probably losing Brandon Roy for the series, the Suns will be too overwhelming for them.  Suns win in 5


4. Nuggets vs 5. Jazz

Down the stretch, Denver has been struggling, losing Kenyon Martin and their coach and have fallen to the 4th seed.  Over the last couple of months, Utah has been playing pretty good basketball and for some time were in the 2nd seed.  They just lost Andrei Kirilenko for the series and Boozer has not looked to sharp of late.  But to me, it would be difficult to see the Nuggets getting back into a groove again after missing Kmart for so many weeks.  This combined with their sub-par play on the road gives Utah a good chance.  Jazz win in 7


Eastern Conference


1. Cavaliers vs 8. Bulls

The Cavs simply have too much weapons and frontcourt depth for the Bulls to make this competitive.  That and a well rested Lebron James makes this a sweep.  The Bulls would be very lucky to even win a game in this series.  Whatever magic left from last year's series vs the Celtics is long gone.  They should just empty the bench for the next few games and get ready for next year.  Cavaliers win in 4


2. Magic vs 7. Bobcats

The Bobcats dont have anyone in their frontcourt who can compete with Dwight Howard, so this should be a very favorable matchup for the magic, but in a few meetings, the Bobcats have played superb defense on Jameer Nelson and Rashard Lewis.  This series will be a bit of a struggle for the Magic, especially with the Bobcats solid defense but they should still win it anyway.   Magic win in 6


3. Hawks vs 6. Bucks

Losing Andrew Bogut was a huge blow to the Bucks playoff run.  Recently they added John Salmons, but still this team's offense is still very weak.  Without Bogut, the Hawks frontcourt will simply overwhelm them.  Hawks win in 5


4. Celtics vs 5. Heat

The Celtics are just about on the verge of dismantling their team, and rebuilding.  They still have some life in them but they have looked awful down the stretch.  Meanwhile the Heat are on an absolute tear the last few weeks and have been holding teams down defensively.   This series could go either way, but I think the Celtics will squeak by since they have given Miami problems in the regular season.  Celtics win in 7

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