John Lewis Hawk gives the wrap-up for the first round of the 2009 NBA Playoffs and what can be expected in the next round.
Welcome to the first edition of the NBA Report. This is going to be The Outhouse's place to check out all things involving the NBA.
To catch you up, here's how the first round of the playoffs went:
Cleveland Cavaliers (1) Vs. Detroit Pistons (8)
This was a slaughter. In only four games, the Cavs beat the Pistons by a margin of at least 11 points. However, the Cavs were not without help as the Pistons did very little to try and stop Lebron James and the Cavs.
Boston Celtics (2) Vs. Chicago Bulls (7)
This was a shocker for me. The Bulls showed up to play in every game except one and gave the reigning champions a run for their position. Both teams played excellent ball with a wide variety of players getting involved and contributing big-time. At the end, this was a series where there was four games with seven overtimes all together and with the victor winning by, at most, three points in five of those seven games. The Celitcs' experience and toughness helped propel them into the next round.
Orlando Magic (3) Vs. Philadelphia 76ers (6)
The 76ers were able to give the Magic some trouble as they won two games but the Magic are moving on. There's two reasons why: Dwight Howard's talent and Stan Van Gundy's skills as a coach.
Atlanta Hawks (4) Vs. Miami Heat (5)
Earlier today, the first round of the playoffs ended with the fourth seed Atlantla Hawks beating the fifth seed Miami Heat 91-78 in the seventh game of their match-up.
Los Angeles Lakers (1) Vs. Utah Jazz (8)
In another place, the Jazz would've gave the Lakers hell. However, that didn't happen. The Jazz's lack of a road skills made them lose in only five games.
Denver Nuggets (2) Vs. New Orleans Hornets (7)
Another team that was a shell of it's former self is the Hornets. They only managed to win one game before the Nuggets moved on to the next round.
San Antonio Spurs (3) Vs. Dallas Mavericks (6)
With one of their stars out for the season and another barely in the games, the Spurs were no match for the fully-loaded Mavericks and it only took five games to prove it.
Portland Trailblazers (4) Vs. Houston Rockets (5)
Much like the Bulls/Celtics game, this was a bout of experience going against youth with the more experienced Rockets squad winning in six games. Also, the combined efforts of Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla could not stop Yao Ming.
The Losers -
Detroit Pistons: As someone who's a fan of the Pistons, their series against the Cavs was embarassing. The Cavs may have the best record this season, but they certainly did not need all of their skills to beat the other team. The Pistons were too busy beating themselves.
I imagine that this season and the series will be blamed on Allen Iverson. While he was not a team player and contributed very little, there's no excuse for Richard Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace, and Tayshaun Prince's playing. This team needs to focus on the future and start working on up-and-coming guys like Rodney Stuckey and Will Bynum to build the next era of Pistons.
Chicago Bulls - They're on the right track but they need to make sure that their almost-defeat of the Celtics doesn't go to their heads. The Celtics were missing their star and key defensive player Kevin Garnett and an important bench player in Leon Powe. A 100% healthy Celtics team would've defeated the Bulls much easier and that's something they need to keep in mind. The Bulls have proven to be a worthy team for next season's playoffs but it will probably be against a team with no missing players.
Philadelphia 76ers - Honestly, I don't know enough to give them a proper evaluation but therein lies the problem. Andre Igoudala's a second-rate star player, Thaddeus Young's couple seasons off, Elton Brand's been a non-factor and may continue to be so, and the rest of the team's lacking except for Andre Miller. They could become a factor next season with the right coach and offseason development.
Miami Heat - The answer is simple: Develop AROUND Dwyane Wade. Only Lebron James and Kobe Bryant are better players than Wade but the difference between those two and Wade is that they both have solid support backing them. That's what the Heat and Wade need. In this offseason, they need to look for their Mo Williams or Pau Gasol to support Wade. I suggest Carlos Boozer from the Jazz or the Toronto Raptors' Chris Bosh.
Utah Jazz - They're one of the best home teams but their road games are bad. In the past, the Jazz were known for their toughness and that's what they need to develop especially with their bigs. I'm predicting next season is going to be huge for this team.
New Orleans Hornets - There was a lot of talk after they almost traded Tyson Chandler to the Oklahoma City Thunder that there were going to be changes but the changes never came. In a matter of two seasons, this team has peaked and is going downhill fast. Those drastic changes need to come.
San Antonio Spurs - Much like the Pistons, this team's not as good as they once were. Development of Roger Mason Jr. and Matt Bonner will help but they need some more alternatives too as both starters and bench players are getting up there in age.
Portland Trailblazers - Another young team that just needs more development especially when it comes to Greg Oden.
Predictions for Round Two-
Cleveland Cavaliers (1) Vs. Atlanta Hawks (4)
Cavaliers are going to roll through this match-up just not as effective as they did with the Pistons. The Hawks will probably win a game or two but it's unlikely that we'll see a repeat of last season with them almost beating the better team.
Results: 4-1 in favor of Cavs
Boston Celtics (2) Vs. Orlando Magic (3)
This could be a very good match-up even if Kevin Garnett gets involved. The Magic are thisclose to being a threat to any team and the Celtics are only solid some of the time. However, there's been more development with non-stars players on the Celtics team than the Magic.
Results: 4-2 in favor of Celtics (if Garnett plays), 4-3 in favor of Celtics (if Garnett doesn't play)
Los Angeles Lakers (1) Vs. Houston Rockets (5)
I would love to see my second favorite team in the NBA, the Rockets, beat the better team but I don't see it happening. If they're lucky, the Rockets will sweep their home games.
Results: 4-1 in favor of Lakers
Denver Nuggets (2) Vs. Dallas Mavericks (6)
To put it simply, the Nuggets are a more well-rounded team. The Mavs could pose a threat but not much of one. Also, the Nuggets won the game today.
Results: 4-1 in favor of Nuggets
That's it for now so I'll see you when it's time for the conference finals.
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