NBA playoff look: Dominant Celtics with strong chance to win Championship

April 18, 2008

This Saturday, the wait is over. The NBA playoffs begin. This year there are many questions. Which team will come out of the strong West? Is this the year of Kobe? Is it time to end a 20+ year drought and bring the NBA Championship back to Boston?

Since Day One, the Eastern Conference has been dominated by the Boston Celtics. The Celtics won 66 games, seven more than any other team. They swept the season series of 17 different teams, including their first round opponent Atlanta Hawks. The Celtics also only lost 5 games to the West, making it likely that they will win the NBA Finals this season.

Three other series in the East will occur in the first round. The second place Detroit Pistons, coming off of their seventh straight 50-win season, will take on the 7th seeded Philadelphia 76ers. The two teams split the season series. In a battle of two of the best young big men in the league, Chris Bosh’s Toronto Raptors will take on Dwight Howard’s Orlando Magic. Finally, for the third straight season, the Cleveland Cavaliers will take on the Washington Wizards in the first round of the playoffs. Cleveland, led by the league’s leading scorer LeBron James, has won each of the last two playoffs.

In the East, Golden State would have been the #4 seed instead of Cleveland. In the West, Golden State is sitting this year’s playoffs out. All eight teams in the Western Conference playoffs have won 50+ games.

The #1 and #8 seed match-up is between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets. Denver has two tremendous scorers and a strong defensive presence in Marcus Camby. What the Lakers have is Kobe Bryant, the man who should be voted MVP. If there’s any team with enough firepower to take down the Lakers, it might be Denver. But can Denver stop Kobe?

The #2 seed and #7 seed match-up is between the New Orleans Hornets and the Dallas Mavericks. The Hornets have Chris Paul, who many think should be MVP. Dallas has not done well since acquiring Jason Kidd at the All-Star break, and Dirk Nowitzki has lacked the killer instinct to win games this season. This match-up may be between two of the better talented teams in the West, but neither may have what it takes to win it all.

The other two match-ups are San Antonio versus Phoenix and Utah versus Houston. San Antonio has defeated Phoenix twice in the last 3 playoffs. Phoenix now has Shaq to contend with the Spurs. Utah against Houston will be a rematch of last year, when Utah won. However, Houston is without Yao Ming this time.

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