This took quite a bit of thought but here it is.
#1 Chicago Bulls v. Indiana Pacers
I see this being a short series with Bulls winning in five games. The Bulls lead the league in defensive efficiency which will come in handy since the Pacers average about 99.8 points per game, a higher amount than the Bulls. The Bulls however hold their opponents to 91 points per game. Indiana on the other hand despite averaging more points per game offensively give up on average 101.1 points per game on the defensive end.
My Pick: The Bulls are going to win the series in five games as before mentioned. Indiana’s no push over but I think the lack the offensive firepower to keep up with the Bulls and the defensive ability to stop them.
#2 Miami Heat v. #7 Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers are much improved team. They have depth and speed and defense. However the Heat have them outranked in about every statistical category. Points per game scored, points per game allowed, offensive and defensive efficiency, rebounds per game, and blocks per game. If it’s something you do on a basketball court it’s almost certain that the Heat can do it better. I love what Doug Collins has done for this team but the 76ers seem outclassed, outmanned, and outgunned in every sort of way.
My Pick: The Heat are going to win this thing in five games. I think the 76ers are going to give it their all but it won’t be enough. As Philadelphia develops in the future I think they’ll be exciting to watch but they’re not going anywhere this year.
#3 Boston Celtics v. #6 New York Knicks
An old school rivalry comes back to life as the aging Celtics take on the offensively potent Knicks. This series is going to be a battle of the Celtics defense and the Knicks offense. These are the most important factors in the series because the Celtics seem lost on defense without Kendrick Perkins who they traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Knicks coached by Mike D’Antoni never played much defense to begin with. They rely heavily on Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire for most of their scoring. I think the Knicks have a chance because they have two guys who can get their own shot at any time. Chauncey Billups for the Knicks is also not to be counted out. He’s a great point guard who is great at finding the open man or taking good shots of his own. This is definitely the most interesting series in the first round for the Eastern Conference.
My Pick: Despite everything I just said about New York I’m going to pick Boston. Boston has been to the top of the playoff mountain before . . . and they’ve come back victorious. The Celtics have more experience together than the Knicks who have just been playing together since the all star break. I’ll take Boston in a hard fought six game series.
#4 Orlando Magic v. #5 Atlanta Hawks
Same song different verse? The Magic swept the Hawks last season. They even had the biggest margin of victory in a sweep of a playoff team in NBA history winning by an average of 25 points over the series. This of course led to the firing of former head coach Mike Woodson. Now the Hawks are back but things are not the same. The Magic still have Jameer and Dwight but have an almost entirely different lineup than last year with Hedo Turkogolu, Jason Richardson, and Gilbert Arenas added to their ranks. The Hawks are different too. They have a new head coach in Larry Drew and they have the recently acquired Kirk Hinrich playing point guard. In my opinion Kirk is an upgrade from Mike Bibby because he is a much better defender and a more consistent shooter. These are not the same two teams though I suppose the Hawks stayed more or less the same by comparison.
My Pick: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. In short, the Hawks are insane. They’re going to lose to Orlando again but, this year they won’t get swept. I think they can win two games in this series. They did win the season series 3-1. I just look at Dwight Howard and I think the guy is absolutely dialed. I take the Magic in six games.
Edit: Finished this on Friday afternoon and forgot to hit the publish button and saved it as a draft. My bad.