We are just one day away from the NBA playoffs and that means it’s prediction time here at CelticsHub. So gather around and take note of our bracket breakdowns, while gathering ammo to use against the three of us when our Championship winner gets knocked out in the 1st round. So without further ado, let’s get to the picks:
Let’s start with the hometown team to begin in their opening round matchup with Miami:
Zach Lowe: Celtics in 5
Brian Robb: Celtics in 6
The Heat can challenge Boston, but they don’t have the depth or offensive power to beat the C’s four times in seven games. The C’s size will hurt Miami on both ends–KG should be itching to take it to Michael Beasley–and the C’s will overload the strong side on Wade the same way they did on Manu Ginobili and Carmelo Anthony in recent games. The difference: Miami doesn’t have the secondary offensive pieces to make Boston pay as Denver and San Antonio did.
How far do we think the Celtics can go? Find out after the jump.
Zach’s 1st round analysis continued:
The C’s should also be able to hurt Miami in transition, since the Heat have no one who can keep up with Rajon Rondo. And if Miami decides to defend Rondo with someone other than their point guards (perhaps Wade, even), the C’s should be good enough now to adjust properly and attack the mismatch.
Understand: The five-game prediction isn’t a slap at Miami. Unless you think the series is going the full seven, if you predict the home team will win, a five-gamer is your best bet, according to the stats.
B Robb’s 1st Round Analysis
Nothing has come easy for this team this year, so why would it now? Despite losing 7 of their last 10 games, I have faith that the Green do have another gear to turn on right now. Paul Pierce is rounding back into shape these past couple games, Ray Allen has had a strong 2nd half and everyone else (except Perk) is as healthy as could be hoped for after an 82 game grind.
There’s plenty of turmoil surrounding this roster, much of it warranted. Whether it’s coaches, players, you name it, the dissension is there. Winning is the trump card right now over all that though, and with the playoffs coming to the forefront, the team’s issues take a backseat.
The Heat present some problems. Tony Allen will be pivotal this series in guarding D Wade. Look for TA to play 25-30 minutes, perhaps some at Rondo’s expense, if Pierce/Ray stay out of foul trouble. The C’s must stay disciplined defensively, avoiding all of the shortcuts in their schemes (switching on picks, failure to rotate) that plagued them much of the year. Again, I have the belief the defense will kick in, enough to take care of a subpar Miami supporting cast. It won’t be pretty, but C’s get it done.
Celtics in 6.
1st Round Predictions (Brendan Jackson’s predictions are on the way)
Cleveland v. Chicago:
ZL: Cleveland in four. Someone please ban Joakim Noah and all other athletes from using the phrase “shock the world.”
BR: Cleveland in six. It’s going to be tougher than you think for the Cavs here. Bulls can play D and Cavs have no one to contain Derrick Rose.
Atlanta v. Milwaukee:
ZL: Hawks in five. No Bogut, no chance.
BR: Hawks in five: Atlanta has too much firepower here.
Orlando v. Charlotte.
ZL: Magic in five. The Magic are just too good, all over the court. A sweep wouldn’t surprise me, but I’ll give Charlotte one game because of its stingy D.
BR: Magic in seven. Bobcats are a good matchup for Orlando. Look for a bunch of low scoring defensive struggles, especially if the Magic aren’t hitting their 3′s.
Lakers vs. Thunder:
ZL: Lakers in four. They are going to come roaring out of the gates in round one. But can they sustain it?
BR: Lakers in six. I really want to pick the Thunder here, but I’ll wait for their exit a couple rounds later
Nuggets vs. Jazz.
ZL: Jazz in six. Utah is a better, deeper and more consistent team, and they’ll have a legit shot at the Lakers in round two.
BR: Jazz in six. Utah is my sleeper pick to go to the Finals, or they were anyway until I just found out Kirilenko is out for the first round. Nonetheless, sticking with my gut here.
Suns vs. Blazers.
ZL: Suns in five. The Blazers were just 8-9 overall without Roy, excluding the season finale.
BR: Suns in four. It’s not even that close.
Spurs vs. Mavs:
ZL: Spurs in six. The health of the Spurs’ point guards is a huge, huge worry. DeJuan Blair has at least one 15-10 game in this series.
BR: Spurs in seven. Again, health is a huge factor in this equation, but I can’t help but count out the Spurs blend of talent but of the young and older kind to take out the Mavs here.
• Cavaliers over Celtics, 4-1, in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. Sorry, everyone, but there is nothing to suggest the C’s are much better than a tough second-round out. But I do think this series will be tough. Let the rebuilding process begin.
• NBA Finals: Cavaliers over Lakers in five. The Cavs have the best team, and I’ll take the winner of Cavs-Magic against anyone from the West.
B Robb’s Analysis:
Celtics over Cavs in seven games in Eastern Conference Semifinals. Why? Blatantly blind optimism and homerism that’s why. Plus I think Cavs, are going down next round anyway, so why not take a chance here?
Magic over Celtics in seven games in Eastern Conference Finals. Celtics run out of gas after making a memorable run and Danny Ainge is left to make many tough decisions about the impending offseason.
Magic over Suns in six games. Suns have no one to contain Howard.
There you have it. Feel free to chime in with your own picks in the comments section to see who comes out with the bragging rights in June.