2009 NBA Playoff Predictions: First Round

April 17, 2009 in Basketball, NBA by pacejmiller

Here are my predictions for the first round of the 2009 NBA Playoff (set to kick off on Saturday18 April 2009).  This is one of the most intriguing first rounds in years, where almost every lower seed at least has a chance of pulling off the upset (in my opinion anyway).  Each series is first to 4 wins (max of 7 games).

Eastern Conference

1 Cleveland Cavaliers (66-16) vs 8 Detroit Pistons (39-43)

Prediction: Cavs in 5

With the likely MVP Lebron James leading Cleveland to the best record in the NBA, it’s hard to pick against them.  Their confidence is sky high and they’ve played with a swagger (s0me say arrogance) all year.  Detroit, on the other hand, has been in complete disarray since the Allen Iversion trade, looking nothing like the perrenial 50-win team they had been for the last 6 or 7 years.  I was close to calling this series a sweep, but I think the Pistons have too much pride for that to happen, and perhaps might be able to catch the Cavs off-guard in one of the games, but no more than that.

2 Boston Celtics (62-20) vs 7 Chicago Bulls (41-41)

Prediction: Celtics in 6

This is a hard one to call.  Boston hasn’t looked so vulnerable all season, with emotional leader Kevin Garnett possibly out for the entire playoffs.  Conversely, the Bulls have streaked to the 7th seed and with exciting rookie Derrick Rose leading the way, they must be feeling good about their chances.  However, it’s difficult to deny the 21 game gap between the two teams and the fact that the Celtics are the defending champs.  There’s no doubt they’ll be playing their hearts out until KG gets back (if he does), and in any event, their record without KG has still been pretty impressive.

3 Orlando Magic (59-23) vs 6 Philadephia 76ers (41-41)

Prediction: Magic in 6

I was tempted to say Orlando in 4 or 5 because I think they are that much better than the 76ers,  but their play to close out the season hasn’t been particularly inspiring.  However, Philly hasn’t been playing particularly strong lately themselves, so the outcome is a bit up in the air.  On top of that, Orlando has been nursing some injuries, so I don’t think it will be as easy as some think.

4 Atlanta Hawks (47-35) vs 5 Miami Heat (43-39)

Prediction: Heat in 6

Going with gut instinct on this one.  The two teams have similar records though Atlanta has home court advantage – but Miami has Dwayne Wade.  I’m expecting a spectacular series from him and I don’t think anyone on the Hawks can stop him.

Western Conference

1 LA Lakers (65-17) vs 8 Utah Jazz (48-34)

Prediction: Lakers in 4

I want to believe that Utah can pull out a game or two, but I think the Lakers are just too strong and too confident.  Carlos Boozer hasn’t seemed right all season and the Jazz haven’t played well to end the season.  The Lakers will be looking to come out and make a statement in the first round so they can intimidate the other teams they’ll meet later.

2 Denver Nuggets (54-28) vs 7 New Orleans (49-33)

Prediction: Nuggets in 7

There’s only 5 games separating the 2nd and 7th seeds, so I think home court advantage will play a big factor.  I’m think Chris Paul will be sensational but Denver will prevail in the end.

3 San Antonio (54-28) vs 6 Dallas Mavericks (50-32)

Prediction: Mavericks in 6

I feel a little sorry for the Spurs, because they’ll have their hands full without Manu Ginobili and with Duncan only at half-strength.  No doubt Tony Parker will absolutely burn Jason Kidd this series but I don’t think he win this series alone.

4 Portland Trailblazers (54-28) vs Houston Rockets (53-29)

Prediction: Rockets in 6

Even though these Rockets don’t have much playoff experience beyond the first round, they at least have more experience than the Blazers, and I think ultimately that will be a factor.  If Yao has a big series I can’t see Houston losing.  Portland doesn’t have anyone that can stop him, and they have rugged defenders such as Ron Artest and Shane Battier to throw at Brandon Roy.

Pictures of Prague: Part II

April 17, 2009 in Travel by pacejmiller

Here is the second installment of some of my photos from Prague, taken from various spots in the city.  The first part (mainly of Prague Castle) can be found here.

Now looking back at these photos, Prague does seem like a beautiful city, doesn’t it?  However, I stand by my earlier statement that Prague is overrated!

Anyway, here they are.  Hope you enjoy them.

St Wenceslas Square, the first place we visited in Prague

St Wenceslas Square, the first place we visited in Prague

The Statue of St Wenceslas

The Statue of St Wenceslas

The famous Astronomical (Astrological) Clock

The famous Astronomical (Astrological) Clock

I honestly can't remember who this is, but it was taken right next to Charles Bridge

I honestly can't remember who this is, but it was taken right next to Charles Bridge

View of Prague from outside the walls of Prague Castle

View of Prague from outside the walls of Prague Castle

Here's the last one

Here's the last one

I was tempted to post some food pics but they didn’t look so enticing so I decided against it.

Pictures of Prague: Part I

April 17, 2009 in Travel by pacejmiller

My blog has been going haywire the last couple of days over my post about Prague being overrated.  Upon closer inspection I realised that a lot of people were actually looking for pictures of the Golden City.  I suppose this is the time everyone starts booking their vacations?

Anyway, I’ve been a real lazy bum over the photos I took on my huge European adventure.  Every time I think about how many photos there are to go through I shudder. Nevertheless, I decided it was a good time to put up some of my Prague photos, in part to feed the growing demand and in part to push myself to start sorting through the pics.  Plus I’m feeling ill and can’t be focused enough to study.

So here they are.  By the way, the photos were taken with a (digital) Fujfilm FinePix F20 (that’s the extent of my knowledge on cameras).  Significantly reduced in size but otherwise untouched.

Prague Castle – St Vitus Cathedral

Right outside St Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle

Right outside St Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle

A wider shot of St Vitus Cathedral from inside the Castle grounds

A wider shot of St Vitus Cathedral from inside the Castle grounds

st-vitus-inside

Inside St Vitus Cathedral

One of the artworks inside St Vitus

One of the artworks inside St Vitus

Another one

Another one

The stained glass inside St Vitus

The stained glass inside St Vitus

View of Prague Castle from Charles Bridge

View of Prague Castle from Charles Bridge

More to come!