By Jason Wojciechowski on May 4, 2009 at 2:15 AM
First, how did my Round 1 predictions go?
- Predicted: Boston in five. Actual: Boston in seven. Chicago played much better than I thought they would, or than probably anyone thought they would. It ended up being one of the best playoff series ever, and even Game 7, while of course a let down after a stellar first five of six games, was pretty close down to the wire, with Chicago at one point being down by just three with about four minutes to play.
- Predicted: Cleveland in four. Actual: Cleveland in four. I can't congratulate myself too much on this one. Too obvious.
- Predicted: Philly in seven. Actual: Orlando in six. I tried to give myself an out on this one, talking about the injured Magic players and how the series could change if they played. Both guys played, though, and Orlando withstood a Dwight Howard suspension to take it.
- Predicted: Atlanta in six. Actual: Atlanta in seven. I'm proud of this one. Dwyane Wade could only carry a mediocre roster so far, and they gave Atlanta a fight, but the Hawks are an emerging squad with good young talent, and they were not to be denied this year. This is the only series in the East in which the team with the best player (Pierce or Allen or Rondo, LeBron, Dwight, Wade) did not win. Sometimes the full roster really does matter.
- Predicted: Lakers in five. Actual: Lakers in five. I do know my Lakers, don't I?
- Predicted: Nuggets in six. Actual: Nuggets in five. New Orleans the team no one wants to play? Denver's the unstable team you can't count on? Things have changed. The Hornets are a one-man squad and the Nuggets have General Chauncey.
- Predicted: Spurs in five. Actual: Mavs in five. My biggest miss. Did anyone see this coming? But what does it mean? Is Dallas dangerous again, or are the Spurs just done? I think it's more of the latter than the former.
- Predicted: Houston in seven. Actual: Houston in six. This series seemed to be relegated to NBA TV almost every game, so I saw almost none of it. I thus have no comment except a brief pat on the back.
So I called six of the eight series, and in five of those six, I was within one game of the final tally. I'm not a master prognosticator, but I think I did ok here. On to the second round, then.
Denver v. Dallas. Denver has already won game one, so you'll just have to trust me that I was going to take Denver in six from the start. I'm again told that you can't trust Denver, but I don't buy that anymore. Carmelo's a pretty steady player, Chauncey's very steady, and the Nuggets get nightly burst from The Birdman and Nene. Kenyon Martin also presents a serious challenge for Dirk Nowitzki.
Lakers v. Rockets. This is the matchup everyone says the Lakers wanted, rather than having to face Portland. I agree, although I think the ultimate outcome would have been the same. I don't want to overlook the Rockets, but I just don't think they can stay with L.A. Lakers in five.
Cleveland v. Atlanta. As happy as I am that the Hawks advanced, can they do anything to stop the steamroller that is the Cavs? I don't think so. I think they'll keep Game Three close and ride their crowd to victory (Atlanta is the new Golden State), but that's all. Cavs in five.
Orlando v. Boston. Boston is already hobbled, missing their #1 and #4 bigs. Add that to exhaustion, at least physical and likely mental (Pierce's unclutchness, Rondo's close calls with suspension) and you get a recipe for disaster against a good and seemingly healthy Orlando team. Dwight will be rested for Game One, too. You can't count Boston out because Rafer Alston isn't stopping Rondo from getting to the cup and the Celtics have three major advantages in any close game (Ray Allen, Jesus Shuttlesworth, and Ray Allen), but still, I think Orlando will be too much. Magic in seven, but without the extreme drama of the Chicago series. I think only two of the seven games will come down to a final possession (contrasted with five of the seven in the first round).