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2008 NBA Playoff Preview

We cover a general overview below, if you are looking for the individual series matchups scroll to the bottom of the page or click here.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Of course, the playoffs are certainly tough to predict. Look at the statistics and you’ve got to think that it will come down to the Boston Celtics versus the Detroit Pistons for the Eastern Crown. But you never know. The Washington Wizards could be spoilers and never count out the Orlando Magic. They are a dynamic team.

The Atlanta Hawks must beat the Boston Celtics to advance. That’s difficult to imagine since the Celtics are simply a whole class above the Hawks in every defensive and offensive category. Boston should win that one and beat all other clubs to get to the finals.

Then again, you cannot forget the Pistons. They kept opponents to 90.1 PPG, which was second best in the NBA. But their 97.5 PPG is low for a playoff team. They will play the sub-.500 Philadelphia 76ers in the first round. Look for Philly to make a game of it, but for the Pistons to win the series.

Could it be Boston and Detroit or Boston and Philadelphia? Celts and Sixers would be a throw back to another time but Celtics and Pistons is more likely.

The Orlando Magic are the third seed in the East and the top-scoring club in the conference, averaging 104.5 PPG. They play their first round versus Toronto. The Raptors scored 100.2 PPG, which was not as good as the Magic. But they allowed 97.2 PPG, which was less than the Magic’s 99.0 PPG. Look for the Magic to win this one, but not without a fight.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, the fourth seed, meet the Washington Wizards, the fifth seed. The Cavs are depleted and lucky to have LeBron James. The question is can James carry the Cavaliers? Washington has a solid team with depth and is certainly up to the task of beating Cleveland. James is not a team unto himself, although he is an amazing player. This could be a long series.

The two best defensive teams are the Boston Celtics and the Detroit Pistons. But don’t underestimate the Orlando Magic and the Washington Wizards, The Wizards have been especially tough versus the Celts. The second season also comes down to which teams are the healthiest and have the most depth. Boston, Detroit and Orlando are all in that category.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

It’s no secret that the Los Angeles Lakers are stacked, featuring the play of some of the best players in the NBA. Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom are all stars. And don’t forget power forward Pau Gasol. Gasol defends well, with 1.56 BPG, while taking down 8.4 RPG and putting in 18.9 PPG. There’s depth on the Lakers and there are players that can score and defend.

The second-seed New Orleans Hornets were the league’s surprise this year. This is the year that Chris Paul stepped forward and took control of the team and each game. Point guard Paul runs a tight ship and can dish off and score. Upfront, power forward David West is an aggressive two-way force.

For the San Antonio Spurs, the West’s third-seed, shooting guard Manu Ginobili connects on 40% of his shots from the arc, while center Tim Duncan is a dominator in every sense of the word. Point guard Tony Parker is a go-to guy and ably scores and defends.

The Utah Jazz’s power forward Carlos Boozer is a habitual double-double guy. Small forward Andrei Kirilenko has become a better-than-average defender. Both Mehmet Okur and Deron Williams can connect from the three-point arc. These guys make the fourth-seed from the West a viable threat.

The Houston Rockets lost Yao Ming part way through the season but managed to survive and make it into the post-season. Despite fine efforts by Tracy McGrady and Rafer Alston, this fifth-seed club will have it rough making all come to fruition.

The Phoenix Suns acquired Shaquille O’Neal from the Heat to give them some more banging power in the paint. O’Neal, if healthy, could help take this team deep into the post-season. Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire can play both offense and defense.

For the Dallas Mavericks, the West’s seventh-seed, anything short of going to the finals will be a disappointment. Dirk Nowitzki must finally prove that he’s as tough as they come. If he gets pushed around, it will be near impossible for Dallas to get past round one.

The final seeded team in the West is the Denver Nuggets. Can they post one win versus the Lakers? That will not be an easy task for this team. But Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony can be difference makers.

Any of the top three seeds in this conference could be bound for the finals. The Lakers look extremely promising, but so too do the Hornets and Spurs.

FIRST ROUND MATCHUPS
Atlanta/Boston
Cleveland/Washington
Detroit/Philadelphia
Orlando/Toronto
Dallas/New Orleans
Denver/Los Angeles
Houston/Utah
Phoenix/San Antonio

SECOND ROUND MATCHUPS
Boston/Cleveland
Detroit/Orlando
LA Lakers/Utah
New Orleans/San Antonio

CONFERENCE FINAL MATCHUPS
Boston/Detroit
LA Lakers/San Antonio

NBA FINALS MATCHUP
Boston/LA Lakers

 

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