The Playoff Picture And 1st Round Playoff Predictions

The Playoffs are right around the corner, and some movement could happen before the playoffs start. As for teams that are looking to get into the playoffs Memphis is 5 games back of Portland with 15 games remaining on their regular season schedule. The Chicago Bulls are 1 game back of Toronto and they could possibly steal the #8 seed in the East before all said and done.

If the playoffs started today these are the most likely matchup we would be looking at some very good matchups in the East and West and some similar matchups from last year’s playoffs.  I’ll break down the first round of the upcoming playoffs as well as throw in some predictions.

Eastern Conference Playoff Picture:

# 1 Cleveland #8 Toronto

Cleveland has control of the #1 seed in the East by 5.5 games and would be facing up against the Toronto Raptors in the first round. There is no reason to worry about the first round if you’re a Cavs fan, Toronto is well under .500 on the road and the Cavs could sweep the Raptors and get extra rest before round two.

Prediction: Cavs win series 4-0

#2 Orlando #7 Miami

The Magic and Heat is a likely first round matchup. Dwayne Wade and his young Heat have played hard all year and it’s paid off enough to get them into the bottom list of the playoffs. After the Magic went to work in the off season, this is a good first round test for them. We all want to see how Vince Carter will respond playing for a top team, and surely we’ll find out if Orlando is still a contender. Miami will keep the series close, but eventually they’ll fall short and head home.

Prediction: Magic win series 4-2

#3 Atlanta #6 Charlotte

The Bobcats are in the playoffs and they’ve been a surprise out of the East all year. Two of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference that aren’t considered contenders will meet up in the first round. The Hawks have so many different weapons and it’s only a question of playing with playoff intensity. Atlanta has some playoff experience while Charlotte has none at all. Don’t expect the Hawks to sweep the Bobcats because it’s not going to happen. This is going to be the most competitive first round playoff series in the East and could go to seven games. And I’m telling you in advance; don’t sleep on the Charlotte Bobcats.

Prediction: Hawks win series 4-3

#4 Boston #5 Milwaukee

The Celtics are old; I think you knew that right? Milwaukee is a young basketball team with a completely different look from last year. Boston has been unable to beat the power houses of the East all year and I don’t see them moving past the first round this year. The fatigue factor for the big 3 kicked in at the all-star break. The Celtics have no energy off the bench and too many veterans with the starting five. That can be a bad thing come playoff time. It sounds good to have plenty of playoff experience but if you can’t use the experience on the court because of injuries and lack of energy you’re going home. This may be the biggest surprise of the first round in either conference; Boston is making an early round exit.

Prediction: Bucks win series 4-2

Western Conference Playoff Picture:

#1 Los Angeles #8 Portland

The Blazers survived most of this season with several injuries. That hurt them in the regular season and will also hurt them in the playoffs. Hanging on to the #8 seed in the Wild West is hard to do with injuries but they will be facing up against the defending champions Los Angeles Lakers. This isn’t going to be much of a series but Portland should be happy with the type of they had season including all the obstacles in their way.

Prediction: Lakers win series 4-1

#2 Denver #7 Phoenix (Possible Denver/San Antonio Matchup)

Some already believe Denver is strong enough to make it to the finals. This matchup will have high rating, I can assure you. Phoenix cooled off since their hot start at the beginning of the season and Denver has controlled the West on the other side of the all-star break. The Nuggets sit 3 games behind the #1 seed Lakers. Overall Denver would matchup better with Phoenix with their size and ability to stretch the floor. The Nuggets can run with Phoenix on occasion but will for the most part control the tempo.

Prediction: Nuggets win series 4-2

#3 Dallas #6 San Antonio (Possible Dallas/Phoenix matchup)

A classic battle is going to go down in Texas again. This year Dallas added more pieces to the puzzle and made a statement one of the West’s top teams. San Antonio isn’t much to talk about in the West anymore and Dallas will prove that in this series. With the Spurs turning away from their old dominant look I would expect San Antonio to win at least one game max and avoid the sweep.

Prediction: Mavs win series 4-1

#4 Utah #5 Oklahoma City

The Oklahoma City Thunder deserve to go to the playoff, and Kevin Durant deserves to the playoffs. The Thunder have their work cut out for them against Utah. I like this matchup a lot with Deron Williams and Russell Westbrook going at it and Carlos Boozer and Kevin Durant going at it down low. The Thunder lead the season series 3-0 and there’s no question in my mind they can’t beat the Jazz in the playoffs.

Prediction: Thunder win series 4-3

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NBA MVP Race

The MVP talks are heating up and it’s about to be a close race to the finish. The Most Valuable Player award is given to the most talented player that performs at a high level the entire year. The list includes only candidates who have been at the top of their game all year long. Not only playing at their highest potential but also helping their team as the playoffs draw closer.

The given are Kobe Bryant and Lebron James, so why not start with the big two?

Los Angeles Lakers #24

Kobe Bryant is playing at a high level but not the best we have seen if his career. He’s reached the peak of his career, I know you have heard it numerous time and the Lakers have not played consistent basketball compared to last season. Kobe missed 5 games due to several injures which hurt his campaign. He’s not out of the race yet, and the Lakers are still within striking distance for the best record in the NBA to close out the season. Kobe can compete and continue to dominate scoring the basketball but he isn’t the Kobe we are accustomed to seeing this late in the season.

Cleveland Cavaliers #23

Lebron James fills every blank on the stat sheet. He’s scoring 30 points per game, along with 7 rebounds, and 8 assists. Lebron and the Cleveland Cavaliers are the best team in the NBA and the Cavaliers have won both games against the Lakers this season.

Oklahoma City Thunder #35

The Oklahoma City Thunder are the biggest surprise because of Kevin Durant. He left the University of Texas early and now with the Oklahoma City Thunder he has changed this franchise completely. Kevin Durant will be going to the playoffs and if he does not walk away with hardware this year he will in the future. The Thunder and Kevin Durant have plenty of time to build confidence and push it to another level. Who can remember the last game he went home with under 20 points? It’s been awhile. Durant wants to win an NBA championship just like Kobe and Lebron. It’s only a matter of time before his dream comes true. Surely being the MVP over Lebron and Kobe would boost his confident moving forward. Durant is the go to guy in Oklahoma City after him the Thunder have young players to help out somehow I don’t see the talent around him being enough to move Oklahoma City far enough forward. Kevin Durant has played like an MVP candidate and it’s only a question of the talent around him. MVP’s of the league today are outright unstoppable and the most talented player on the team.  Durant brings that type of play to Oklahoma City and extra help from Russell Westbrook, James harden, etc. would put #35 at the top of the list.

Dallas Mavericks #41

Don’t count Dirk Nowitzki out. The Dallas Mavericks are closing in on the second seed in the Western Conference. Since Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood joined the Mavericks this team has really improved and so has Dirk. Dirk is shooting over 50% from the floor and is averaging 23 points per game, 8 rebounds per game and 3 assists. Maybe not quite MVP type numbers, but look at the Dallas Mavericks now with Dirk Nowitzki compared to early in the season and last season. It’s a big difference because the success in Dallas started with Dirk Nowitzki and with new additions everything improved even more.

Denver Nuggets #1

Chauncey Billups’ sharp shooting is maintaining the Nuggets playoff spot as one of the top 3 teams in the Western Conference. Billups scored a career high 39 points against the Lakers this season and is averaging 24.3 points per game and 7 assists per game. Billups is last in line for MVP but he wouldn’t mind to be mentioned on the list for the first time.

As of now the top candidates are:

1) Lebron James

2) Kobe Bryant

3) Dirk Nowitzki

4) Kevin Durant

Other Mentions: Dwayne Wade, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Steve Nash

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NBA Moments: Remembering the Decade

As we bid farewell to 2009 and start a New Year in 2010, plenty of amazing things happened this year and throughout the decade. Here are some of the key highlights and moments of the last ten years in the NBA.

Numerous questions still are unanswered heading into 2010. Is Lebron James the NBA’s biggest star or will Kobe Bryant manage to control part of next decade? Will Lebron seek his first ring in Cleveland, and will Shaquille O’Neal become a 5-time NBA Champion? Can Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic come out on top in the Eastern Conference and make a run for an NBA title?

Lebron James is about to dominate the coming decade whether you want him to or not. He’s watching his options for 2010 very closely. We all know what Lebron wants, and the only thing standing in his way is Kobe Bryant and a supporting cast. Kobe’s time has come and passed in a long and successful career, but he’s not finished yet: 4-time NBA champion, NBA Finals MVP in 2009, 2008 NBA MVP, 11 Time NBA All-Star, and 81 points in one game. If I were Kobe Bryant, I wouldn’t call it quits until my contract expired in Los Angeles and see what offers are available after the end of his run in LA. Odds are after he leaves Hollywood, he is almost certainly retiring.

Although Lebron James and Kobe Bryant are the main topics of the future and past, younger talent like Brandon Jennings, Blake Griffin, and Tyreke Evans are all possible stars of the future. Brandon Jennings has already showcased his bright future as a rookie. Who knows what Blake Griffin will bring to the league and the Los Angeles Clippers? Everyone is eagerly awaiting Blake Griffin’s return, even if he doesn’t show up for the rest of his rookie year.

Of course exciting finishes happened; records were broken and amazing happened. The last 10 years have been hard to keep up with, but without a doubt here are the ten concluding moments of the last decade.

#10: Pacers – Pistons brawl in the Palace of Auburn Hills. (Ron Artest’s defining moment in Indiana)

#9: With the 1st overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select: Lebron James.

#8: Robert Horry retired in 2008, after 16 seasons, and winning 7 NBA titles.

#7: Celtics – Bulls first round playoff series (2009) It was only a first round playoff series, but a series to remember. Derrick Rose scored 36 points in his playoff debut, and Ray Allen had 51 points in Game 6 to tie the series up at 3 games apiece. Boston won the series in 7 games.

#6: In 2007, an NBA official betting on games is first reported. Conclusions are drawn about the outcome of certain games, and whether referees were biased. It is a fact that referees were biased, favoring certain teams on any given night to win a bet. Early this season the truth was revealed about Tim Donaghy. Donaghy ruined the game of basketball for some fans and hurt the NBA’s reputation as a league.

#5: Allen Iverson’s career is renewed in Philadelphia. The possibility of Allen Iverson retiring was eliminated after he re-signed with his former team.

#4: Michael Jordan’s Decade of Dominance came to a disappointing end after playing two seasons for the Washington Wizards.

#3: Kobe Bryant scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors in 2006. Kobe was 28 of 46, and knocked down seven 3-pointers. He played only 42 minutes of the game, but this game undoubtedly represented the best performance of his career during the decade.

#2: The San Antonio Spurs won their fourth NBA title in 2007. The 2007 NBA Champions won three titles this decade. San Antonio is one of the best teams of the last 10 years, even with struggles this season. Tim Duncan and his group is a veteran team, but the Spurs will always be overlooked because of the dominance of the Los Angeles Lakers.

#1: Shaq and Kobe part ways in 2004. The close relationship comes to an end. Together Shaq and Kobe managed to win three straight NBA titles. Arguably the most dominant duo ever, maybe even better than Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen who were in some eyes mind-blowing and un-beatable. A strong ego between Shaq and Kobe held them from accomplishing much, much more.

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2010 NBA All-Star Game Preview

The 2010 NBA All-Star game will be held in the Cowboys Stadium, on Sunday February 14, 2010. Close to 80,000 fans are expected to witness the largest crowd ever to watch a basketball game. Kobe Bryant and Lebron James are  the most popular All-Stars for the 2010 game in Arlington, Texas. Blake Griffin is hoping to play in his first All-Star game as a rookie for the Los Angeles Clippers, while Kobe Bryant is allegedly the Western Conference starting guard for the 12th time in his career. Carmelo Anthony, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Amare Stoudemire and Andrew Bynum are all popular Western Conference picks. Allen Iverson now back with the Philadelphia 76ers will most likely play in the All-Star game. Top stars Kevin Garnett, Dwayne Wade, and Lebron James will be leading the way for the Eastern Conference.

As usual, the Eastern and Western Conference biggest stars are assured a spot in the starting lineup, but as for Jose Calderon, Mike Bibby, Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis, Rasheed Wallace, Manu Ginobili, Brandon Roy, Ron Artest and other contributors, a spot on the bench might already be taken.

A fair prediction of the lineup’s for both conferences  if the voting ended today:

Western Conference: Steve Nash/ Kobe Bryant/ Carmelo Anthony/ Dirk Nowitzki/ Amare Stoudemire

Eastern Conference: Allen Iverson/ Dwayne Wade/ Lebron James/ Kevin Garnett/ Dwight Howard

This year’s All Star game will be watched in over 200 countries on TNT and listened to on ESPN Radio. It’s up to the fans to vote for their favorite players and determine who will play in this year’s competition. The NBA All-Star game has always been an exciting contest, and this year it just got better.

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Christmas Expectations in the NBA

This Christmas, five NBA games will take place from New York to Los Angeles. Plan your day wisely, because there isn’t any time to mess around. Starting at 12 PM ET, Dwayne Wade and the young Miami Heat take on the New York Knicks who have won three straight games, and finishing off the day with two improved Western Conference teams: Denver and Portland (10:30 PM ET.) Don’t forget the three other games in between (Boston/Orlando, Cleveland/LA Lakers, LA Clippers/Phoenix Suns) What more could any NBA fan want on Christmas day? But will each game live up to its highest expectations with an extra special holiday audience?

Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland –Hype Level: 95%

With Shaq headed back to Los Angeles, Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers have expected a spectacular season from the start, but the outcome won’t affect TV ratings. Shaq vs. LA has become a tradition in itself. Lebron James and Kobe Bryant will fight for the biggest stage and each star expects to show that he is the most talented player in the NBA. Cleveland is not a popular pick in this year’s hyped matchup, but Lebron James is capable of changing a scenario with odds against him; and turning this decade around into his favor.

Boston and Orlando –Hype Level: 83%

The top two teams in the East are playing off of winning streaks. Boston has won two straight and Orlando has three straight wins. The Celtics will be spending Christmas in Orlando but that isn’t a problem, with only one loss on the road this season. They are looking for revenge after losing last year in the Eastern Conference semifinals to the Magic.

Denver and Portland – Hype Level: 70%

The last game of the day between the Nuggets and Blazers will keep you awake after a long day of NBA action. Denver heads to Portland on Christmas and is expecting an easy win. The Blazers have several injuries on their roster and Brandon Roy’s performance is key for a Blazer win.

Miami and New York – Hype Level: 54%

I’m giving this game a little more hype than deserved. New York does not deserve a spot on TV. The only reason an audience exists for this early game is to see Dwayne Wade. Wade should have a performance to remember in Madison Square Garden. Miami currently holds the 5th seed in the East, while New York is inching closer to the 8th seed.

Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix — Hype Level: 35%

Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns look to demolish the Clippers without Blake Griffin. Phoenix has surprised everyone giving Steve Nash a shot at as an MVP candidate. The main thing to look out for in Phoenix is the scoreboard. Watch out because Amare Stoudemire, Steve Nash, and the Suns will bring it to the hopeless Clippers.

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Old Refs Likely To Return

David Stern is in the process of returning the old refs return by opening night. If the deal is made,all the NBA officals will be back in action Tuesday, but are required to go through a training camp on Saturday.

A vote will take place on Friday, between the 57 NBA referees. The first deal was rejected in a 43-14 vote and the new deal is expected to solve any remaining problems.  This is a big plus for the NBA, ending the lockout that originally started in September.

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Fantasy Basketball Rankings

Depending on what scoring is used for your fantasy league here is a list of the most talented players, and potential steals in this year’s fantasy draft.

Top 10:

1. Lebron James

2. Chris Paul

3. Dwayne Wade

4. Kobe Bryant

5. Kevin Durant

6. Danny Granger

7. Dirk Nowitzki

8. Dwight Howard

9. Deron Williams

10. Amar’e Stoudemire

Steals:

Rank:                     Player:                                  Projected Pick:

17                           Steve Nash                         17-20

21                           Kevin Garnett                    19-32

32                           ince Carter                          26-35

39                           Derrick Rose                       40-42

41                           OJ Mayo                              30-57

46                           Gilbert Arenas                   37-61

55                           Ron Artest                          50-62

59                           Ben Gordon                       45-67

62                           Josh Howard                      45-72

66                           Jameer Nelson                  51-80

68                           Rasheed Wallace              46-73

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