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.