(Some would say that blogging about the playoffs and giving predictions after they've begun is cheating. But to those some who say this, I rebut with two words: Eat Me)
Although I don't have a TV, I've been doing my best to follow the 2007 playoffs as best I can. With what I've seen and the results that have unfolded, I must say that so far the East has been kinda boring, and the West has been pretty stunning.
In the East, there have been 3 series sweeps (Detroit over Orlando, Chicago over Miami and Cleveland over Washington) and 1 near sweep (New Jersey pwning Toronto 3 games to 1). At first glance, one would think that the east is unbelievably lopsided in terms of its skill and talent, but upon further observation, I believe that's not painting a clear enough picture. I honestly think that the Cleveland-Washington series would've gone to 7 games if Washington's top 2 scorers, Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler, were not injured. Also, I think Miami would've fared much, much better if Dwyane Wade were 100% and Shaq not as old, like they were last season. With the current Eastern conference landscape, here's my preditions:
Detroit/Chicago - I think this is gonna be a tough and hyper physical matchup between a Detroit ball club that has skill, experience, and the 'Bad Boys' way about 'em going up against a young but quick and also highly skilled team. With all that said, I think the Detroit starting 5 is better than the Chicago starting 5, and the Detroit bench is much deeper than the Chicago bench. But after the dust settles, I think this is what we'll see:
Detroit in 6.
Cleveland/New Jersey - Let's face it, Toronto's got a lot of work cut out for 'em if they're gonna claw back from a 3-1 deficit against a seasoned New Jersey team. I say that series ends after tomorrow's game, but you can't rule out home court playing a significant role for the Raptors. But still, I say the series wraps up at the very latest in 6 games. Anyways, I think the Cleveland/NJ series is pretty evenly matched. Although Lebron is a beast and nobody on NJ has a chance of stopping him, I don't think Cleveland has enough strong and consistent scorers to be the second option to follow LBJ. As for New Jersey, if all their players can stay healthy, especially Jason Kidd, I think they'll prove to be too much for Cleveland. With that said, my prediction will be a pretty drawn out series, but in the end:
New Jersey in 7.
As for the Western conference series, aside from the Denver Nuggets winning game one of their series against San Antonio, there's only one story line that's really making the waves and turning the heads, and that's the series between Golden State and Dallas. In my opinion, Golden State is absolutely tearing Dallas a new one. For a team that had the best regular season record as well as went all the way to the NBA finals a year prior, they're really choking during this year's playoff run. I think Golden State's regular season record does not even come close to reflecting them as a team, namely the resurgence of Jason Richardson. After an injury filled season, he made a full 180 3/4 the way through the season and has become the marquee player everyone knows that he is. Combining that with the mid-season trade and the coaching genius of Don Nelson to realize that Andris Biedrins is a mad baller, you've got a team that can hang with the best of the west. I think Dallas will give one last push to win game 5, but in the end:
Golden State in 6.
For the rest of the Western Conference:
San Antonio (over Denver) in 6
Phoenix (over LA) in 5
Houston (over Utah) in 7
As for my final predictions as to who will win it all: I say Phoenix will emerge from the West and Detroit will emerge from the East. It'll be a high scoring battle between two great teams, but in the end:
Detroit over Phoenix in 7.