NBA Playoffs: Second Round Breakdown
The first round of the 2010 NBA Playoffs is now over, and the second round is underway. In the Eastern Conferences, the top four seeds made through, but in the West, the San Antonio Spurs, the seventh seed, knocked off the second-seeded Dallas Mavericks. The fifth-seeded Utah Jazz also pulled a mild upset in taking down the Denver Nuggets.
(1) Cleveland Cavaliers vs (4) Boston Celtics
This may be a closer series than people initially expected. Before the playoffs started, It looked like the Celtics were ready to roll over to whoever they faced in round 1, but they ended up looking dominant against the Miami Heat – the team with the best record in the NBA post all-star break (21-8). The Cavs already won game 1, and I doubt Boston has a serious chance of winning the series, but Rajon Rondo could take them deep. Kevin Garnett is not the player he was two years ago, which is why this is now Rondo’s team. Rondo, with Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and KG are still a very solid core, but they are simply not elite. LeBron and Co. will be too much considering that Boston is no longer a great defensive team, but I see this as a six game series. The veteran Celtics should be able to scrape for a few home wins before the Cavs close it out.
(2) Orlando Magic vs (3) Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta looked lifeless in the first round against one of the worst teams in the playoffs – the Milwaukee Bucks. The Hawks should have won that series in five games, but instead they were down 3-2 and facing elimination. It is hard to see the Hawks playing tough against an exponentially more talented team in round 2, but stranger things have happened. I think the Hawks will wake up and take Orlando to seven games.
Well-rested Orlando swept the Charlotte Bobcats in the first round while playing very mediocre basketball. Orlando is a deep and talented team, but they need Dwight Howard focused and out of foul trouble. Howard’s foul trouble has started to become more of a media frenzy than anything else, but it is something to be watched. Regardless, Orlando should take this series.
(1) LA Lakers vs (5) Utah Jazz
The LA Lakers will win this series. They just got through a remarkable difficult series with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and that has served as a wake up call. The Lakers are too physical inside for the Jazz – a team that does not play tough defense. Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom should have a great series against Utah. Not to mention, there is not a perimeter defender on the Utah roster that will shut down Kobe Bryant.
The Jazz played impressively against the Denver Nuggets in round 1, but I don’t see them stacking up against the Lakers. They will probably take a game or two, but Carlos Boozer and Paul Milsap will have their hands full.
(3) Phoenix Suns vs (7) San Antonio Spurs
This is one of the more intriguing match ups of the second round. Phoenix and San Antonio have a lengthy rivalry in the playoffs, but this year, the Spurs are a bit of a surprise team, as they never played elite basketball in the regular season. They are just now getting healthy with Tony Parker coming back, and it looks like the Spurs are a rejuvenated championship contender.
The Phoenix Suns do not match up well with the Spurs – or any team that plays solid defense. The Suns knocked off the ailing Portland Trailblazers in the first round, but they are facing a much different animal in the Spurs. San Antonio took down the Dallas Mavericks – a team that looked like a championship contender – in the first round, and they did so in six impressive games. The Spurs know how to advance in the playoffs, and the Sun will most likely not stop them.