We are now about to begin the NBA Conference finals. We have two intriguing matchups that are not as easy to predict as you might think. All four teams have a reason to think they will be playing in the 2009 Finals. As always before I delve into my analysis, I will allow you to see how I did in the last round. This time I can be proud of my foresight, since I went an incredible 4 for 4.
RESULTS My Pick
CLE/ATL Cavaliers in 4 Cavaliers in 5
BOS/ORL Magic in 7 Magic in 6
I though the Celts were done, they impressed me by taking it to seven; but they were totally gassed for game 7.
LAL/HOU Lakers in 7 Lakers in 7
I had this one, when no one else had. I though the Rockets speed and defense would give the Lakers some trouble.
DEN/DALL Nuggets in 5 Nuggets in 6
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINAL
#1 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. #3 Orlando Magic
top players LeBron James Dwight Howard
Mo Williams Rashard Lewis
season series 1 2
The Cavaliers have been unstoppable in the playoffs. LeBron has really been dominant and the Cavs haven’t been tested in a single game. They could roll through the Magic as well, but if the Magic punch back the Cavs might not be ready. Dwight Howard has to have a big series inside and Courtney Lee needs to put enough defense on LeBron to at least make him think. I feel that the Magic grew up a lot in the Boston series, coming back from 3-2 down to beat Boston on the road. The Mo Williams/Rafer Alston matchup will be crucial in providing secondary options on offense and getting the ball to their best offensive options. Cleveland should have the advantage there, as Williams has been a revelation in Cleveland. I think the Magic play with a lot of pride and extend the Cavs, but in the end LeBron and homecourt for game 7 prove too much. Hey, that’s why you win games in December.
My Pick: Cavaliers in 7
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
#1 Los Angeles Lakers vs. #2 Denver Nuggets
TP Kobe Bryant Chauncey Billups
Pau Gasol Carmelo Anthony
season 3 1
The obvious answer is that LA is better, but that only takes into account the entire season. Over the last 30 regular season games the Nuggets had a better record, and in the playoffs they have definitely been playing better. Chauncey Billups has completely turned around this team from a mental aspect. They are playing with a renewed purpose and George Karl finally is making the right decisions. The Lakers biggest advantage is going to be in frontcourt scoring. Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum have to show up big for the Lakers to win this series. The Nuggets have little on the inside to compete from an offensive perspective, unless you are including Carmelo Anthony. Kobe will have some big games, of course, but that won’t be enough. If his teammates don’t play with energy and defensive intensity, his scoring bursts won’t be enough. As a Baltimorean, it will be interesting to see how Anthony performs in his first really big stage opportunity.
My Pick: Nuggets in 6
I’m going with a Denver/Cleveland finals. Not what TV wants, but I think they can sell LeBron vs. Carmelo.