Chicago vs. Indiana: Bulls lead series 3 games to 1.
How we got here: Chicago’s Derrick Rose has continued his MVP caliber play from the regular season, carrying the Chicago offense through out the series averaging 28 points, but 33 points in wins and only 16 points in losses. Derrick Rose did sprain his ankle midway through game four, the only game the Pacers won, but the games have all been down-to-the-wire affairs. Even though the Pacers won a game, the Bulls will still win this series. Bulls in 5
Philadelphia vs. Miami: Heat lead series 3-1.
How we got here: Miami’s LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh have been too much for the 76ers to handle. The trio is averaging nearly 70 points a game, and the Sixers do not have a dynamic scorer to answer with. If you total the points in the first, third, and fourth quarters of each of the first four games, the Sixers have outscored the Heat by 12 points. The problem is, if you total the points scored by both teams in the second quarter, the Heat have outscored the Sixers by more than forty points. It took a last second three by Louis Williams and a missed short range jumper by Lebron James for the Sixers to get one at home. It’s nice that they won’t get swept, but the Heat are going to win this series. Heat in 5.
Boston vs. New York: Celtics win series 4-0
How we got here: The Knicks lost the first two games in Boston by a combined five points. They went on to play with less energy and effort at home, losing by a combined 29 points. They allowed the Celtics to score over 100 points on the Knicks home court. The Celtics had at least two scorers over 20 points in every game, while the Knicks struggled to find other scoring options besides Carmelo Anthony, once Amare Stoudemire hurt his back. Losing New York’s Chauncey Billups to run the point at the beginning of game 1, combined with Stoudemire hurting his back was too much to over come, This team was assembled at the trade deadline and has not had much time together. In the off season they need to tweak their roster to add more big men and input a better defensive scheme.
Atlanta vs. Orlando: Atlanta is up 3-1.
How we got here: Atlanta has allowed Orlando’s Dwight Howard to get his points but they shut down the rest of the Orlando Magic to great effect. Dwight has averaged 33 points and 19 rebounds. Orlando’s Jameer Nelson has averaged 18, but since he scored 28 points in one game that average is distorted; it means the rest of the games he averaged 10 points. The Hawks have had two 20 point scorers in every game except for game two, which they lost. The Hawks have two dynamic scorers, Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford, who can create their own shots at any time. That’s why the Hawks will win this series. Hawks in six.
Memphis vs. San Antonio: Memphis is up 2-1
How we got here: The Memphis Grizzlies “tanked” the last game of the season, not playing some of their starters to ensure they would play the Spurs. This move was widely viewed as dumb, but as they are now up 2-1 and dominating the Spurs in the paint, it can be looked at as a pretty smart move. Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs didn’t play game one due to injury; the Spurs looked lethargic and lost. Ginobili’s return for game two helped energize the Spurs; he scored 17 points and they won. He couldn’t help them enough in game three though, so now the Spurs face a 2-1 hole. The three games have been decided by a combined 12 points, so it will probably be a long series. Grizzlies win in six.
Los Angeles vs. New Orleans: Series tied 2-2
How we got here: Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets has delivered two of the best performances of these young playoffs, defeating last year’s champion Lakers on their own court in Game 1. He put up an astounding stat line of 27 points, 13 assists and 15 rebounds. Paul has had to carry the Hornets for long stretches and it’s hard to believe that he’ll be able to carry the Hornets to four wins against the Lakers onslaught of talented big men. Pau Gasol has struggled with his offense throughout the series, and questions of his toughness are arising again. He seems to be re-asserting himself and that will only help the Lakers make a deep playoff run. Lakers in 7.
Portland vs. Dallas: series tied 2-2
How we got here: Dallas won the first two games, with their big time scorer Dirk Nowitzki scoring over 30 points a game. In their losses, super-sub Jason Terry has averaged 30 points a game. The Mavericks have lost the last two games in Portland, including game four in which they were up by 23 halfway through the third quarter. Portland guard Brandon Roy, who had knee surgery this past off season and had been trying to regain his game all season, turned in a vintage Roy game by scoring 18 points in the fourth quarter of game four and willing Portland to win, tying the series at two. The Mavericks have won their two games by a combined 20 points, while Portland has won by a combined 7 points. Mavericks will fight off their playoff-choking demons, and finally win a close series. Mavericks in seven.
Denver vs. Oklahoma City: Oklahoma up 3-0
How we got here: This series has had two close games and one blowout, with the blowout coming when the Denver Nuggets quite simply couldn’t find the bottom of the net. The two close losses have been more telling. When the Thunder need a basket with under two minutes remaining in a close game, Okalahoma City’s Russell Westbrook or Kevin Durant is taking that shot. The Nuggets play great team basketball, but at the end of the game they are unsure who should take the final shot. Trading Carmelo Anthony for a bunch of solid role-players was a good idea, but Anthony is one of the best end-of-game closers. This gaping flaw is showing up now, as Denver is struggling at the end of games. The Thunder will win this series next game. Thunder in four.