A look at Round 2 of the NBA Playoffs
Vail, CO Colorado
The NBA Playoffs are in full swing, and after just one round, we’ve already seen several crazy events, including a few NBA records.
Dallas bounced San Antonio in the first round for the first time since 2000 with a 4-1 series victory. Orlando closed out feisty Philadelphia on the road in Game 6 with “Superman” Dwight Howard on the bench serving a suspension. Atlanta and Miami played one of the most lopsided close series in NBA history, going to seven games despite an average margin of victory of 20 points per game.
The Denver Nuggets recorded the largest average point differential in any playoff series in NBA history, outscoring New Orleans by 24.2 points per game, including a Game 3 loss by two points. And Chicago and Boston played more overtime games (four) and overtime periods (seven) than any other teams in any series in NBA history.
As we move into the second round, NBA fans can only hope the madness continues.
No. 1 Cleveland vs. No. 4 Atlanta
As expected, the Cavaliers easily took care of Detroit in four games in Round 1, and get Atlanta, which won Game 7 at home against Miami. While Atlanta was impressive in their victory over the Heat, neither team played very well during the course of the series, and there will be a giant increase in talent of the opposition in Round 2. The Hawks don’t stand much of a chance of stealing a game on the Cavs’ court, let alone preventing Cleveland from winning on the road. The only thing that could have made this series interesting would have been if Miami had advanced and we had a Dwyane Wade vs. LeBron James matchup.
Cleveland in five.
No. 2 Boston vs. No. 3 Orlando
While this second round matchup has been projected for much of the second half of the season, it will take on a slightly different look than was expected with the absence of Boston’s Kevin Garnett. With Garnett in a suit and tie in Round 1, the Celtics struggled mightily against the Bulls, going to seven games before closing the series on their home floor. Expect those struggles to be magnified against Orlando, as the former Defensive Player of the Year Garnett will not be able to match up against reigning defensive player of the year Dwight Howard. Despite Orlando’s sluggish start in Round 1 against Philadelphia, the Magic looked very good closing the series on the road in Game 6 without their best player. The Celtics should manage to win at least a game or two, but KG’s absence will be too great to overcome.
Orlando in six.
No. 1 Los Angeles vs. No. 5 Houston
The West’s top seed had little trouble cruising past Utah in Round 1, losing just one game on the road by two points before taking games 4 and 5 to silence the Jazz. Houston meanwhile, blew out Portland on the road in Game 1 and managed to hold home court for the remainder of the series, winning in six games. Most experts have the Lakers as the clear favorite, particularly because they went 4-0 against Houston in the regular season. Still, the Lakers failed to blow Utah out in any of their four first-round victories, never winning by more than 14 points. The Lakers’ inability to push moderate leads out of reach could allow Houston to win a game or two, but if L.A. takes Game 3 or 4 on the road, it should be able to close the series in Game 5.
Los Angeles in five.
No. 2 Denver vs. No. 6 Dallas
This matchup involves possibly the NBA’s most impressive first-round teams, keyed largely by their high-scoring benches. The Nuggets, highlighted by a record-breaking 58-point victory in New Orleans in Game 4, torched the Hornets in Round 1, never allowing more than 95 points in a game and scoring less than 107 points just once. The Mavericks beat the Spurs, the NBA’s best team for the last decade, twice on the road en route to a five game series victory. With Denver’s prowess at home (36-8 including playoffs and 13 consecutive victories), Dallas can’t afford to lose one of its own home games, and will need to be fortunate to take one on the road. As Denver won the regular season series, 4-0, this one could end quickly, but I expect Dallas to win at least one game at home. Whether in Game 5 or Game 7, Denver will end up closing this one out at home.
Denver in five.
Davey Dechant is a senior at Battle Mountain High School. Before heading off to attend Northwestern University in the fall, he will likely be watching a lot of the NBA Playoffs.