From my standings layout, here’s how the 2013 Playoffs will shape out.
The Heat will easily get through the Sixers. No one with the Sixers can guard LeBron James. Atlanta won’t have an answer for Derrick Rose and the Bulls will beat the depleted Hawks. The Pacers will beat the Celtics because they are younger and faster and they want it more than the Celtics, who have the most NBA Titles in organized basketball. The matchup between Manhattan and Brooklyn can go either way. I’m thinking a suspect call will narrowly give the win to Brooklyn. Derrick Rose can’t carry the entire Bulls squad and he’ll tire out and lose to the Heat, who just have too many weapons. The Pacers against the Nets will be an awesome series. I’m giving it to the Nets because they have a better point guard. Joe Johnson will negate Paul George, David West and Kris Humphries will negate each other and Gerald Wallace will cancel out Danny Granger. No one will be able to account for/defend Deron Williams. If the Nets could find some way to hold off LeBron James, they might be able to win the Eastern Conference Championship. But I dobut it. The Nets aren’t as deep as the Heat, and so Miami repeats as Eastern Conference Champions.
Memphis lost one of its offensive talents in O.J. Mayo and so they won’t be able to outgun Kevin Durant and the Thunder. The Spurs are too seasoned and composed to lose to the still up-and-coming Nuggets. Denver doesn’t have the offensive firepower it used to. The Lakers will defeat Minnesota because Pau and Kevin Love will cancel each other out, but Steve Nash will out work Rubio and Kobe will overcome Brandon Roy. The Clippers and Mavericks will be a fantastic first-round series. I’m guessing this one goes to seven. I give this round to the Clippers because they are deeper and have more offensive threats. Remember, the Mavericks don’t have Jason Kidd or Jason Terry anymore. I don’t think O.J. Mayo and Chris Kaman, who is injury-prone, can make up for that scoring loss. Last year the Thunder spanked the Spurs to get the NBA Finals. I suspect it will happen again this year. Like the New York-based rivalry, I think Battle L.A. will go to seven games and the refs will give it to the Clippers. Jodie Meeks and Antwain Jamison are solid additions to the Laker bench, but they are no match for the Clipper bench of Lamar Odom, Jamal Crawford and Grant Hill. The key to a Clipper victory here is containing Dwight Howard and/or Steve Nash. I can’t give the Clippers a Western Conference win over the Thunder though, because I’m not sure they have an answer for Kevin Durant. The Clippers best two perimeter defenders - Grant Hill and Matt Barnes - are too short to defend Durant. And so, we have a repeat of last year’s NBA Finals.