NBA Conference Finals Previews
By Guest Blogger Geoff Nelowet:
Chicago Bulls vs. Miami Heat (Bulls lead 1-0):
After handling their second round opponents without much worry, both of these teams came into this series with their confidence at an all-time high. If you watched, that translated into one heck-of-a-game last night. Besides just being great entertainment, last night told me everything I needed to know about this series. The reason the Bulls were so successful last night was their air-tight man to man defense. They held the scorching-hot Heat to only 82 points by forcing James and Wade into taking more difficult shots than they have been seeing so far in the playoffs. When they had opportunities, the Heat got easy buckets by forcing turnovers and getting out in transition. They do this better than anyone in the league, but not last night. Derrick Rose showed in game 1 that the carousel of defenders Miami plans on sending at him could end up being completely irrelevant; he’s going to be dominant regardless. I think we should all grab our popcorn and enjoy the rest of this series, which has a high likelihood of seeing its way to seven games. If the Bulls can continue to play great team defense as they did last night, they will outlast the Heat. But if Miami can get their transition offense going, it’s like a locomotive with no brakes. When it’s all said and done, the MVP will have the last word in Chicago.
Prediction: Bulls in 7
Dallas Mavericks vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Now, the matchup we’ve all been waiting for… wait what? Mavericks vs. Thunder? If you didn’t see this coming don’t be ashamed because you surely are not alone. Most saw the Lakers meeting the Spurs at this point, but instead we are presented with a series that may end up being more exciting than that hypothetical classic anyway. We’ve got Dirk Nowitzki and his ever-hungry teammates facing off against the dynamic duo of Westbrook and Durant. The Mavs will be well rested and focused after sweeping the Lakers and are playing game 1 at home, a place they haven’t lost in during these playoffs. The Thunder have plenty of momentum and excitement after defeating the Grizzlies in 7, but does this team have the maturity to keep their deepest run into the postseason going? The Thunder will have to find a way to slow down Nowitzki, just like Dallas will need to find a way to hinder Durant’s efforts. Westbrook will be facing his toughest defensive matchup yet, as he will mostly be guarded by Jason Kidd who was responsible for shutting Kobe down in the Conference Semi’s. Top to bottom the Mavericks are just too deep for the Thunder to hang with at this point, and where well-rested legs meet experience you have a recipe for success.
Prediction: Dallas in 6