While I was only off on 2 series, resident MAMBINO writer BockerKnocker destroyed me in exactly accurate predictions 3 to 1 (neither of us had the appropriate winners or games in 4 series - the Hornets looked like Memphis in the title game, the Knicks looked like Butler in the title game and Memphis George Mason-ed us). I am unapologetic about my picks and, if you read on, obviously I have not learned my lesson.
Chicago (1) vs. Atlanta (5)
Why the Bulls will win in 6
Chicago is the better team, without a doubt. Atlanta should be happy to be here after dusting off Orlando, but I get the sense that they don't feel that way. The Deadbeats look a little more confident than usual. Jamal Crawford and Joe Johnson will explode for a couple of games, but that's it. Too much Rose for the Hawks to make real noise.
Why the Bulls will sweep the Deadbeats, and why this time I'm right
My opinion of the Deadbeats stays the absolute same - the only reason why they won the last series is that they found a bigger team of deadbeats then themselves. It seems to me that the addition of Vince Carter to the squad last year was the death knell of this NBA Finals team. Vinsanity really outdid himself this time - his apathy was so strong and infectious, that he was able to get the entire Magic team, with the exception of Dwight, to not care about anything that happened on the court. The Magic lost the series because they didn't play together, took terrible shots and played without any passion whatsoever. Dwight was being absolutely hounded inside and unlike 2009, no one was there to help him and pick up the slack. Regardless of their series victory, my disdainful opinion of the Deadbeats still stands. I think they will be exposed for the frauds and thieves they are when Chicago dismantles them. Noah will abuse Horford like it was practice in 2007 Gainesville and with the injury to Hinrich, I see no way of any sufficient ball movement on Atlanta's side.
Miami (2) vs. Boston (3)
Why the Boston Celtics will win in 6
I really don't have a lot of logic for this one. Miami is playing better than it has all season, with LeBron, Wade and even Bosh playing to the height of their powers. Chalmers and Bibby are doing enough to fill their roles and Joel Anthony is doing just enough to stay on the court. Miami looks hungry and has a chip on their shoulders about being beaten by Boston all season - in fact, neither LeBron, Bosh or Wade have ever beaten the core of KG, Rondo, Pierce and Ray in the playoffs. They are angry and out for blood.
BUT - the last fact remains true. Despite the changes in personnel, the Celtics have never lost to any of these guys in the playoffs. I fully expect KG to make Bosh his whipping boy, and for another shoot-out between Pierce and Bron. Rondo is playing seemingly back to form and if he plays at that level, he's the key to the series - as Miami has no one to stop him.
Why the Two Cowards and Wade will win in 7
If the Heat finished the regular season with the best record in the league, people still wouldn't take them seriously. This is because too many things affect the outcome of regular season games. The playoffs are obviously a different story. This series in particular will be the first concrete measure we will get on Miami, and fear of failure will push them to new heights. LeBron, Wade, and even Bosh have opened our eyes with their talent, but this series will demonstrate their willingness to go the extra mile. Either way, I'm not gonna be upset when one of these teams goes home.
OKC (4) vs. Memphis (8)
Why the Thunder will end it in 6
This series ends in 6 if, and only if, the Thunder's revamped front line can contain a Zach Barkley and Pau's brother from abusing OKC like they abused the Spurs. Tony Allen and Shane Battier will have some level of success over Westbrook and Durant, but like the Z-Bo/Gasol vs. Serge/Perkins battle, I only expect Tony and Shane to limit, not shut down. The Thunder have proven to me that they can win on the road, and if they can contain that monster front line, especially in the fourth quarter, then this could be over in 6
Why the Grizz could push it to 7
When you play defense, you can win anywhere. Both teams will get dirty and fight to the bitter end. Unfortunately, Durant will not be stopped, and I think Westbrook will overwhelm Mike Conley and Greivis Vazquez in key moments. Either way, Zach Randolph v. the Perkins/Ibaka combo will be the matchup of the entire second round. Trust me.
Lakers (2) vs. Dallas (3)
Why the Lake Show takes it in game 7
The Lakers might not take Dallas seriously for a little while. The Hornets series showed that Kobe and Co. will try to win games being lazy, maybe to save energy for the Finals. However, when this series is tied 2-2, Afro Kobe will come out and unleash some thundering dunks on Brendan Haywood. Dallas needs to retool its roster, and maybe this is the series that finally tells Mark Cuban to do something different.
Why the Lakers could send the Mavs home in 5
When the Lakers aren't dismissive, they are the most dangerous. Looking at their worst losses this season, it seems like most of them are because the team wakes up that morning and thinks "Nice. Milwaukee tonight. I wonder where I'm going to dinner afterwards?". I disagree with Christian - the Lakers are confident, but unlike they were against NOLA, they are wary of a team that tied their record and beat them twice in the regular season.
Against Dallas this season, Pau averaged 20 points on 55% shooting this season, Bynum 16 ppg and 12 rpg on 70% shooting, and Lamar with 15 and 8, on 51% shooting. People can talk all they want about Dallas having "18 fouls to put on the Lakers bigs", but obviously that doesn't have any bearing when they are throwing up a combined 51 a game on you.