Monday, 19 May 2008

NBA Conference Finals Predictions

We're down to the final four teams in the NBA playoffs, and we have some relatively power matchups. Let's cut out the pretext and just get to the predictions.


With Boston and Detroit, we have to the two teams that have been a cut above the rest of the conference all season long. Detroit, of course, are veterans at this Conference Finals thing, having been here for the last 5 seasons. Boston is coming off of a season in which they won 24 games and replaced 60% of their starters, so they're not quite so experienced with the Conference Finals. But no matter, as Boston is the favorite heading into the series.

But there has been a big development for Boston which makes them appear a lot more vulnerable than they looked in the regular season... Ray Allen got really old, really fast. He was a virtual non-factor against Cleveland, even sitting out for the majority of the 4th quarter of Game 7. He wasn't hitting shots, he wasn't getting open looks consistently, and he could not create his own shot. Without him, does Boston have the offense to get past Detroit? Especially with defensive stalwart Tayshaun Prince guarding Paul Pierce?

I do think the importance of Rajon Rondo will be magnified in this series. Against Cleveland, his defensive skills were not as important, because the Cavs obviously do not have a great offensive PG. However, Rondo will be asked to slow down Chauncey Billups, and his success or failure will be a large determinant of this series. As it stands, I'll go with the more talented Billups, and ergo, the Pistons. The Boston that I watched struggle to handle Cleveland does not have the offensive firepower to hang with Detroit.



We have two legitimately great teams in this series, with the Lakers taking on the Spurs. The Lakers have been the most impressive team in the postseason so far, dispatching the Nuggets in 4 and the Jazz in 6. Meanwhile, the Spurs impressively beat Phoenix in 5 games before outlasting the Hornets in 7.

Both teams are extremely well-coached, fundamentally sound, and talented. That's usually means we should have a pretty nice series on our hands. I would guess that Bruce Bowen will start on Kobe Bryant, which will be the key matchup in the series. Though the Lakers certainly have other options on the floor, they still look to Kobe to get the offense going, both with his scoring and drawing of defenders.

When the Spurs have the ball, the key matchup will be how Derek Fisher guards Tony Parker. The Spurs obviously have Duncan and Ginobili, but the key to the offense is Tony Parker hitting his 18-footers. When Parker is hitting the jumpshot (predominately off of the pick & roll and kickouts from Duncan), the Spurs become very, very difficult to stop.

This should be a classic series between two great teams. In this case, I'll go with the proven commodity... seems like the Spurs are on a mission.


What are your thoughts?