Saturday, April 17, 2010

2010 NBA Playoff Preview - First Round



Cavaliers (61-21)  vs. Bulls (41-41)
SRS: 6.27 (2nd) - -1.83 (18th)
ORTG: 111.2 (6th) - 103.5 (27th)
DRTG: 104.1 (7th) - 105.3 (11th)

PER Matchups
C: Shaquille O'Neal (17.9) - Joakim Noah (17.9)
PF: Antawn Jamison (16.7) - Taj Gibson (13.8)
SF: LeBron James (31.1) - Luol Deng (16.1)
SG: Anthony Parker (9.9) - Kirk Hinrich (11.6)
PG: Mo Williams (16.1) - Derrick Rose (18.6)

The Bulls obviously have no chance. Vinny Del Negro has done a solid job despite a very controversial season, and the team did well to make it this far. I for one am slightly disappointed the Raptors didn't make it, if only because I want to see LeBron average 40-10-10 for a playoff series. Unlike the Raptors, the Bulls are a respectable defensive team (so no legendary series' for LeBron), but they are inccredibly putrid offensively (give the ball to Rose and hope for the best) and have absolutely no chance of beating the Cavs in a 7 game series. Because the Cavs are working Shaquille O'Neal back into the mix, these games will be glorified practice sessions for the Cavs as they get prepared for the Celtics and Magic.

PREDICTION: Cavaliers in 4 games


Magic (59-23) vs. Bobcats (44-38)
SRS: 7.12 (1st) - 1.30 (15th)
ORTG: 111.4 (4th) - 104.4 (24th)
DRTG: 103.3 (3rd) - 102.8 (1st)

PER Matchups
C: Dwight Howard (24.0) - Theo Ratliff (11.0)
PF: Rashard Lewis (14.0) - Boris Diaw (12.8)
SF: Matt Barnes (13.6) - Gerald Wallace (18.3)
SG: Vince Carter (17.1) - Stephen Jackson (15.7)
PG: Jameer Nelson (15.5) - Raymond Felton (15.2)

The Magic have advantages at 4 out of 5 positions, not to mention the deepest bench in the league. The Bobcats might have the best defense in the league, but their offense is not going to overcome Orlando's #3 ranked defense, and as such, they will be lucky to win one game.

PREDICTION: Magic in 4 games


Hawks (53-29) vs. Bucks (46-36)
SRS: 4.44 (7th) - 1.38 (14th)
ORTG: 111.9 (2nd) - 104.9 (23rd)
DRTG: 106.7 (13th) - 103.1 (2nd)

PER Matchups
C: Al Horford (19.4) - Kurt Thomas (9.9)
PF: Josh Smith (21.0) - Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (11.8)
SF: Marvin Williams (13.0) - Carlos Delfino (12.9)
SG: Joe Johnson (19.3) - John Salmons (17.6)
PG: Mike Bibby (12.7) - Brandon Jennings (14.5)

The Hawks should have a relatively easy series (for once),as the Bucks are missing Andrew Bogut (as big of an all-star snub as Josh Smith, btw). Atlanta's offense is just too good, and the Bucks won't have enough of their own to support their still credible defense. You know it's bad when your top player is actually Luke Ridnour (17.7 PER off the bench), but the Hawks even have an answer for him with probable 2010 Sixth Man award winner Jamal Crawford (18.4 PER off the bench). Either way, Atlanta's young and improved frontline should dominate this series.

PREDICTION: Hawks in 4 games


Celtics (50-32) vs. Heat (47-35)
SRS: 3.37 (10th) - 2.00 (13th)
ORTG: 107.7 (15th) - 106.6 (19th)
DRTG: 103.8 (5th) - 104.1 (6th)

PER Matchups
C: Kendrick Perkins (15.0) vs. Jermaine O'Neal (17.9)
PF: Kevin Garnett (19.4) vs. Michael Beasley (16.1)
SF: Paul Pierce (18.2) vs. Quentin Richardson (12.9)
SG: Ray Allen (15.2) vs. Dwyane Wade (28.0)
PG: Rajon Rondo (19.1) vs. Carlos Arroyo (12.3)

This will be a close series as both teams are excellent defensive teams but only average offensively. Many critics are thoroughly roasting Boston right now and predicting a first round exit. I still know better; they're the freakin Celtics! Miami is hardly great shakes themselves as they were floating from 5th to 9th place all season, and would have been the 6th seed if Andrew Bogut didn't get hurt. Dwyane Wade might be the best player in this series, but he will essentially be one man fighting against a great defensive team. O'Neal, Beasley, and Udonis Haslem will be limited by the defense of Perkins, Garnett, and Rasheed Wallace. KG may have lost a step, but it is difficult to imagine him losing his matchup to a one-dimensional black hole (Beasley), and we can probably expect to see a little more Udonis Haslem in this series... Meanwhile, Rondo and Pierce's advantages at their positions should easily make up for the difference between Ray Allen and Dwyane Wade.

Thus it looks like another first round exit for the Heat. Fortunately, with all their cap room, it should be the last one for a long time. Boston on the other hand will continue to fight father time and will need to make some difficult decisions going forward if they wish to remain in contention.

PREDICTION: Celtics in 6 games



Lakers (57-25) vs. Thunder (50-32)
SRS: 4.78 (5th) - 3.55 (9th)
ORTG: 108.8 (11th) - 108.3 (12th)
DRTG: 103.7 (4th) - 104.6 (9th)

PER Matchups
C: Andrew Bynum (20.2) - Nenad Krstic (13.7)
PF: Pau Gasol (22.9) - Jeff Green (13.8)
SF: Ron Artest (12.1) - Kevin Durant (26.2)
SG: Kobe Bryant (21.9) - Thabo Sefolosha (9.8)
PG: Derek Fisher (9.3) - Russell Westbrook (17.8)

Ultimately, Durant and Kobe should cancel each other out. What this series comes down to is the Lakers are just too big up front for the Thunder. LA has three all-star caliber players and Oklahoma only has one, even if he is a top 3 NBA talent right now. Dwyane Wade faces a similar struggle out east, and Durant's road will be even tougher given the quality of his opponent. The Lakers will take this series, but Durant should be able steal a game (or even two) with his offensive prowess.

PREDICTION: Lakers in 5 games


Mavericks (55-27) vs. Spurs (50-32)
SRS: 2.67 (12th) - 5.07 (4th)
ORTG: 109.2 (10th) - 110.0 (9th)
DRTG: 106.3 (12th) - 104.5 (8th)
PER Matchups
C: Erick Dampier (14.0) - Tim Duncan (24.7)
PF: Dirk Nowitzki (22.9) - Antonio McDyess (12.2)
SF: Shawn Marion (14.7) - Richard Jefferson (13.1)
SG: Caron Butler (14.2) - Manu Ginobili (22.5)
PG: Jason Kidd (17.2) - George Hill (14.9)

Going by the numbers, Dallas is not a worthy #2 seed and a prime candidate to be upset by the Spurs. However, the numbers are misleading for both teams, and we're going to have to dig a little deeper.

Dallas started the season with Josh Howard on the shelf, and he was never quite himself this season when healthy. Dallas flipped him at the all-star break for Caron Butler, a move that can be regarded as an upgrade. Butler and Howard combined for only 58 games for Dallas, which means there were 24 games where Dallas was throwing extra minutes at JJ Barea or rookie Rodrigue Beaubois. That hurts Dallas' numbers.

The Spurs, however, are not without thier variables either. Tony Parker missed 26 games and struggled throughout the year with a heel injury. He recently returned as the team's sixth man, a role he could thrive in just as Manu has all these years. The Spurs also made it a point to rest Tim Duncan (and the other Spurs starters) in preperation for the playoffs. Duncan will surely be playing 5-10 more minutes per game in the playoffs, and that certainly affects the Spurs' numbers.

Ultimately, what I think this series will come down to is that the Mavericks have home court advantage, and the Spurs still don't have anyone that can guard Dirk Nowitzki. Dallas on the other hand picked up Brendan Haywood who can match up with Duncan better than Dampier ever could. The Spurs also have some injury concerns (Hill and Parker) and that could play a factor in a long series - not to mention they won't get to torch Jason Kidd as badly as they normally would.

Whatever the case may be, this will easily be the most interesting and competitive playoff series of the first round.

PREDICTION: Mavericks in 7 games


Suns (54-28) vs. Blazers (50-32)
SRS: 4.68 (6th) - 3.18 (11th)
ORTG: 115.3 (1st) - 110.8 (7th)
DRTG: 110.2 (23rd) - 107.1 (15th)

PER Matchups
C: Jarron Collins (3.8) - Marcus Camby (17.0)
PF: Amare Stoudemire (22.6) - LaMarcus Aldridge (18.2)
SF: Grant Hill (14.0) - Nicolas Batum (17.3)
SG: Jason Richardson (16.6) - Rudy Fernandez (13.1)
PG: Steve Nash (21.6) - Andre Miller (18.1)

In a season where the Blazers had their entire season marred by injuries, it only makes sense that their best player (Brandon Roy, 21.3 PER)would tear his meniscus right before the playoffs. With Roy, the Blazers likely would have advanced over these defenseless Suns. Without him, they will struggle to take advantage while also having to deal with the NBA's top offense on the other end. Don't expect to see much of Jarron Collins btw Blazer fans, the majority of the center minutes will go to Channing Frye (15.0 PER). The Suns have a deeper bench and will be running the Blazers into the ground without much opposition (as the Blazers are only an average defensive team themselves, Marcus Camby heroics notwithstanding). I'll say the Blazers steal a game though based on the merits of how bad the Suns are defensively.

PREDICTION: Suns in 5 games


Nuggets (53-29) vs. Jazz (53-29)
SRS: 4.15 (8th) - 5.33 (3rd)
ORTG: 111.8 (3rd) - 110.7 (8th)
DRTG: 107.5 (16th) - 105.0 (10th)

PER Matchups
C: Nene (18.9) - Mehmet Okur (15.6)
PF: Kenyon Martin (13.4) - Carlos Boozer (21.3)
SF: Carmelo Anthony (22.2) - C.J. Miles (10.3)
SG: Arron Afflalo (10.8) - Wesley Matthews (12.3)
PG: Chauncey Billups (20.2) - Deron Williams (20.6)

Here we have yet another playoff series ruined by injury. Andrei Kirilenko (18.2 PER, and the team's best defensive player) will miss the entire first round, and that leaves the Jazz incredibly thin on the wing. The Jazz were destroyed by the Nuggets and Carmelo Anthony (33 ppg on 60 FG%) during the regular season (their only win coming when Melo was out of the lineup), and he should have a field day against Miles, Matthews, Kyle Korver, Othyus Jeffers, the kitchen sink, and whatever else Jerry Sloan can find to throw at him. Utah will need career performances from Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer to take advantage of Denver's average defense if they want to have any hope of overcoming the odds.

PREDICTION: Nuggets in 5 games


For those of you who actually managed to get through all that, go download my playoff roster, which I just uploaded to 2K Share (Xbox 360)! A full breakdown on that will come tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

Did you do a playoff prediction last year?

Would like to see how accurate you are.

Anonymous said...

^Anonymous. He did. But you have to search for it.

Another great write up. Hope this follows.

Rashidi said...

I did. You can view them here:

My predictions then:

Cavaliers > Pistons (4 gms)
Reality: Cavaliers in 4 gms

Bulls > Celtics (6 gms)
Reality: Celtics in 7 gms

Magic > Sixers (5 gms)
Reality: Magic in 6 gms

Heat > Hawks (7 gms)
Reality: Hawks in 7 games

Lakers > Jazz (5 gms)
Reality: Lakers in 5 gms

Nuggets > Hornets (7 gms)
Reality: Nuggets in 5 gms

Mavericks > Spurs (7 gms)
Reality: Mavericks in 5 gms

Blazers > Rockets (7 gms)
Reality: Rockets in 6 games

I picked the series winner 5/8 times. Hawks/Heat was really a toss up and it did go to 7 games.

Rockets pulled out an upset (although knowing what I do now about the negative impact McGrady has on an offense, I probably would have picked Houston).

I also knew the Bulls were up to the task of taking down Boston, though I suppose in the end I underestimated the Celtics' vets and forgot that a rookie PG in Chicago was getting his first experience.

Shelb said...

I agree with all of your predictions except the Nuggets/Jazz. Without Karl and with the Nuggets seemingly lost lately I see the Jazz beating them. Jazz are coming into the playoffs playing their best ball of the year and I think Boozer is going to go on contract year mode against Martin who'll be rusty.

Rashidi said...

Okur just got hurt. While I think he's a key reason why the Jazz are ill-equipped to battle the Nuggets, it would leave the Jazz very short-handed as I'm sure they're not going to turn to Kyrylo Fesenko in the playoffs.

Shelb said...

Yeah, I saw that. Still think the Jazz can pull it off, but that injury really hurt them. Not as sure as I was before but the Nuggets are a team still not playing as well as they should be and are without George Karl who's the reason they didn't blow up years ago.

Should still be a great series. The Western side of the playoffs are going to be entertaining as hell.

Rashidi said...

I don't think they need Karl now because the team is more mature than it was a few years ago.

Most notably, Chauncey Billups is running the show now, not Allen Iverson. Billups is basically a coach himself on the floor which is why I'm not too worried about them.

I don't think they have a prayer against the Lakers in round two with or without Karl though.