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2009 NBA Playoffs Preview
It is that time of year again when it all comes down to just 16 teams in contention for the NBA title!
Coming into this yearís NBA playoffs there has only been talk of two teams really competing for the NBA title with Kobe Bryantís Los Angeles Lakers out West and leading MVP candidate LeBron Jamesí Cleveland Cavaliers in the East.
Although both these teams will be the two teams left standing in the NBA finals this season in my opinion, there are definitely some teams in the both the Western and Eastern conference that can make some waves in the post season.
Here is a breakdown of every NBA team headed to the playoffs this season:
The Jazz are coming into the playoffs after having somewhat a down season that has been absolutely plagued with injuries to their stars. At one point during the season the Jazz looked like they had overcome their injuries to their superstars Deron Williams and most notably Carlos Boozer with the emergence of backup forward Paul Milsap coming in and making Jazz fans almost completely forget about Boozer, but even though they play exceptionally well in Salt Lake City the Jazz are a terrible road team and that will be their eventual downfall. Not only canít the Jazz win on the road against the best teams in the NBA, but they are matched up with the number one seed Los Angeles Lakers in the first round and will almost certainly be heading home early.
Los Angeles Lakers
There has been no team better in the West or in NBA in my opinion this season than the Los Angeles Lakers. Not only do I believe that the Lakers will just cruise through their Western conference opponents with a healthy Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant as driven as ever, but I think that no matter who they may face in the NBA finals the Lakers will once again be NBA champions!
San Antonio Spurs
Every single season, no matter what their roster looks like the San Antonio Spurs always seem to be playoff bound. This year in no exception, but Tim Duncanís squad will have a tough road ahead this time around without Manu Ginobili in the lineup. Ginobili has been battling injuries all season long and now will miss the playoffs because of it. Without Ginobili the Spurs are still one of the best teams in the West, but they lack the scoring punch that Manu brings which will result in an early exit for the Greg Popovichís boys.
Every since the Mavs lost to the Golden State Warriors a few years back in the first round of the playoffs they have just never recovered. The Mavs always turn out to be a playoff team, but can never close the deal going all the way back to losing in the finals to the Miami Heat. This year is no different as the Mavs have struggled just to get this far. Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry are playing great, but with all the great teams in the West this season I donít see the Mavs even getting past the first round.
Portland Trailblazers ďThe Dark Horse of the West!Ē
The Lakers will be the team to come out of the West in my opinion, but I believe they will have to go through a very good Blazers squad to do it. Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge have completely turned this team around with the guidance of Coach of the Year candidate Nate McMillan. Greg Oden may not be the dominant center that everyone in Portland hoped he would be, but he is still a great defensive player and has not held the Blazers back this season. If any team is going to take down Kobe and company it will be the Blazers!
Last year it was the Pau Gasol going to the Lakers, this year it was Chauncey Billups going to the Nuggets. There has been no better trade in the teamís history than sending Allen Iverson to Detroit for Billups. The team has done a complete turn around and actually found an identity on defense. I still believe they lack the ability to make it far in the playoffs, but in a few years they could definitely be a force to be reckoned with. They will probably make it to the second round, but no further.
It is all about defense and the Rockets have plenty of that! No McGrady, no problem! They may be missing their leading scorer and game changer in T-Mac, but with Artest, Yao and Battier the Rockets could make some waves in the West. They donít put up big numbers, but they make up for it on defense. It could be Houstonís time to make it out of the first round.
New Orleans Hornets
Chris Paul is the man! The guy is like Magic Johnson reborn! Paul can do virtually anything on the court; the problem is that at point during the playoffs this MVP caliber point guard will start to wear down from doing too much. David West is a nice compliment to Paul, but this team just doesnít have enough to make a run at a title just yet. Injury problems and lack of consistency will be the Hornets downfall this postseason.
The Orlando Magic is good, the defending champion Boston Celtics are great, but the Cavs are on a mission! The combination of Mo Williams and LeBron James has been amazing to watch and the result has been 66 wins, home court throughout the playoffs and quite possibly an NBA championship in Cleveland. This team will be extremely tough to beat before the finals.
The defending champs still look very dominant on the defensive end, but with Kevin Garnettís health in serious question I donít see the Celtics repeating this season. KGís knee has been bugging him ever since the All Star break and I think the injury is worse than Boston lets on. The Celtics will probably get to the Eastern conference finals as long as they can get past the Magic and donít meet the Cavs before East finals.
Dwight Howard has been an absolute monster in the middle this season and now is officially the best center in the league, but with Hedo Turkoglu at a 100% and no Jameer Nelson the Magic will not make it as far as once prediction. Orlando is the third best team in the East and that doesnít look like it will change until next season.
Miami Heat ďThe Dark Horse in the East!Ē
The Blazers are the ones to look out for in the West and Dwyane Wadeís Heat are the ones to keep your eye on in the East. No other player, besides LeBron James, has been more dominant this season than D-Wade. This guy is better than ever and looking to prove that he is one of the best players ever to play the game. The Heat are a good team this season with Wade playing the way he is and the team starting to come together again, but they are not a great team just yet. I see them getting past the first round, but no further.
One and done. The Bulls may have made a big time upgrade at point guard with Derrick Rose who looks to be the Rookie of the Year, but it will not result in advancing in the playoffs for the Bulls just yet. Two or three years down the road the Bulls will be a force in the East again, but this season they will just be a stepping stone for another team in the East.
The Sixers are another one and done team in the East. This is another team like the Bulls that doesnít have a promising young core of players, but they are going nowhere this season. Philly did make an impressive run in last yearís playoffs, but the East is more competitive this season.
I really like the Hawks. They have a great assortment of young players lead by Joe Johnson, but they are still not good enough to be a contender in the East. They may have taken the Celtics to the limit last season in the playoffs, but they probably wonít get past the first round this time around.
Talk about a team on the decline. To start the season they get rid of arguably their best player and born leader Chauncey Billups for an aging scoring machine in Allen Iverson. It went all downhill from there. Every season for the past decade or so the Pistons have been the best team in the East, but with all their players getting nothing but older and frustrated in Detroit the Pistons are no longer a superpower in the East. The Cavs will wipe the floor with them in the first round.
All and all we are in for a very entertaining postseason! Although there is plenty of potential for upsets in both conferences I see a Lakers and Cavs NBA Finals on the horizon with Kobe Bryant finally getting the ring without Shaq!
Dark Horse Teams: Miami Heat and Portland Trailblazers
Western Conference Champ: Los Angeles Lakers
Eastern Conference Champ: Cleveland Cavaliers
NBA Champ: Los Angeles Lakers
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