EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
#2 MIAMI HEAT vs #4 BOSTON CELTICS
One quick glance tells you that the Heat really should have their way with the Celtics. The Celtics are banged up. Ray Allen shouldn't be out there. Paul Pierce is playing through a bad knee. Avery Bradley is already out and he's one hell of a defender. Yes, Chris Bosh is out and he may not play in this series but from a talent standpoint, the Heat have the total edge.
But there's something about the Eastern Conference this year. Something unusual is going to happen that's going to give the Celtics a shot at this. It could be that Dwyane Wade or LeBron James goes through an unbelievable slump. Or maybe someone's going to get suspended after a flagrant foul. Or God forbid, someone might even get hurt. Or, heck, for some reason, Kevin Garnett's game suddenly becomes even MORE 2004.
Even then, I'm going to say that, yes, something will give the Heat a scare. But I think that little something is going to give the series a 50/50 feeling. Won't be surprised if it goes either way but I'm going to make the safe pick here. Tough to go against a team that has two of the best five players in the game.
PREDICTION: Miami in 6.
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
#1 SAN ANTONIO SPURS vs #2 OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
The Spurs continue to play on that level but are they due for a letdown? The Thunder themselves have only lost one game.
The Thunder don't have that personnel that take advantage of the Spurs. They're not going to post up the Spurs' frontline. But let's see the Spurs try and stop Kevin Durant. Obviously, Russell Westbrook and James Harden are going to be a handful, too, and the Spurs will try to contain them all... but let's see if Serge Ibaka can make those midrange jumpers because he's likely going to get them.
Tony Parker is going to be a problem, especially against Westbrook, who can be overzealous on D. Tim Duncan's experience and guile can also throw off a weak one-on-one defender and pogo stick Ibaka. And the Spurs are obviously a nightmare match-up for anybody; their ball movement is so crisp plus Manu Ginobili hasn't played his best. We'll have to watch the match-ups and rotations as this series goes along.
Both teams have such offensive wizardry that they'll have a hard time stopping each other. But I'm going to stick with the team that seems to have less problems scoring no matter what line-up is out there. However, I think the margin between the teams is THAT miniscule because some superstar play is going to cancel out fantastic team play.
I also realize that I'm going against my original pick from before the season started. But who would've thought San Antonio would have such a dominant regular season? How stupid was I? This is a shortened season. Guess who won the last shortened season in 1999?
And stop calling the Spurs boring; they really have been one of the more fun teams to watch in the last few years. This really is going to be one hell of a Western Conference Final.
PREDICTION: San Antonio in 7.