Steve Alexander

Playoff Preview

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Round 1 Playoff Notebook

Friday, April 23, 2010


With Round 1 of the playoffs well underway, but far from over, now seemed like as good a time as ever to post a Playoffs Notebook column. Look for a new and improved Mock Draft in the near future as well. And check me out on Twitter if you haven't yet. Sometimes I get fired up and probably post too much for some of your liking, which is something I'm working on. In any case, enjoy the playoffs, and I'll tell My Morning Jacket you said hello when I see them play tonight in Atlanta.

East

No. 1 Cavaliers vs. No. 8 Bulls - Cavs lead 2-1, Game 4 @ Chicago Sunday

Kirk Hinrich hit 9-of-12 shots and 4-of-4 3-pointers, and added five boards and five assists in Game 3, while Derrick Rose 31, Luol Deng had 20 and stud Joakim Noah added another double-double in the win. Noah famously blasted the city of Cleveland, saying "I never heard anyone say I'm going to Cleveland on vacation," which is kind of funny. The Cavs couldn't have played worse, yet still nearly came back and won the game late. LeBron has been his usual unbelievable self in this one, but hasn't gotten much help from his big guys – especially Shaquille O'Neal. Shaq was awful on Thursday, while they also missed too many free throws as a team. The Game 3 win was nice for the Bulls, but I still see no way they win this series. Not a chance. LeBron says the Cavs need to play small ball due to Shaq's slide, and he's probably right. And Shaq's probably not happy with being dissed, but then again, LeBron didn't need to even say it, as the whole world watched it happen on national television.

Side note on LeBron – He's already played 22,000 career minutes, which is more than half as many as Michael Jordan played in his career. In other words, he's not going to be around forever, so make sure you don't sleep on watching him while you can (Thanks @SteveKaysNBA for the stat).

Original Prediction: Cavs 4-1 – Sticking with it.

No. 2 Magic vs. No. 7 Bobcats - Magic lead 2-1, Game 3 @ Charlotte Sunday

Raymond Felton and Boris Diaw have been no-shows for the Cats, while Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson have carried the load in a pair of losses in Orlando. Dwight Howard has blocked a million shots in the two games, but has been in serious foul trouble as well, keeping him from doing much offensively. This series still has sweep written all over it, although I wouldn't be surprised to see the Cats win a game if Felton ever shows up and outplays Jameer Nelson.

Original Prediction: Magic 4-1 – Sounds about right, if Magic don't sweep.

No. 3 Hawks vs. No. 6 Bucks - Hawks lead 2-0, Game 3 @ Milwaukee Saturday

As expected, the loss of Andrew Bogut (elbow) is going to make it tough on the Bucks. They were manhandled in the two Atlanta games and NBA TV's Steve Smith has already said the Hawks will sweep the Bucks. Josh Smith's numbers are off the charts and he's playing like a man possessed now that he doesn't take stupid shots anymore. Joe Johnson, Mike Bibby, Al Horford and Marvin Williams have stuck to the game plan and the Hawks should take at least one of two in Milwaukee on Saturday and Monday. John Salmons and Brandon Jennings have been non-factors thus far, struggling with a swarming Hawks defense. And thanks to my buddy @Hawksvoice for the Game 2 hookup.

Original Prediction: Hawks 4-2 – If I had a do-over I'd say Hawks 4-1.

No. 4 Celtics vs. No. 5 Heat - Celtics lead 2-0, Game 3 @ Miami Friday

From the original column: The Celtics seem to always find a way turn it on when it matters, and the banged up Heat couldn't even get out of the first round last year, losing to the Hawks. Dwyane Wade's a great player, but he still needs a lot more help.

This has turned out to be especially true, as Wade continues to try to do it all by himself. Kevin Garnett was suspended for Game 2 after trying to behead Quentin Richardson, who really can't stand the Celtics, and vice versa, but they didn't need him in a massive blowout. Jermaine O'Neal has hit just 4-of-24 shots in the two games, but promises he'll show up for Game 3. I'll believe it when I see it, and as long as Rajon Rondo continues to apply devastating full-court pressure to the Heat's inadequate point guards, Miami will be lucky to win a game.

Side notes: I think there's a very good chance Wade stays with the Heat, as they'll be a top player in free agency this summer. I also don't know how long Michael Beasley will be around, as Wade might be just as sick of playing with him, as he is answering questions about why Beasley's still not 'getting it.'

Original Prediction: Celtics 4-2 – I'd go with 4-0 if I had it to do over again.

Continue reading for the Western Conference.


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Steve "Dr. A" Alexander is the senior editor for the NBA for Rotoworld.com and a contributor to NBCSports.com. The 2014-15 NBA season marks his 13th year of covering fantasy hoops for Rotoworld. Follow him on Twitter - @Docktora.
Email :Steve Alexander



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