With the NBA season is officially over, everyone is excited to watch and see who will take this year’s crown. Will it be the defending champs? Or will King James try to snatch the crown away from the Celtics? Maybe Kobe will avenge their loss and hoping to retake the lost glory of the Lakers franchise. Who knows? But one thing’s for sure, 16 teams will battle it out until the very end and the only thing we can do now is to analyze what can each of these team do to win and advance to the next round. This will give you some ideas what the need in order to win.
First stop is the Eastern Conference:
(1) Cleveland Cavaliers v.s. (8) Detroit Pistons
The Cavs got the best record in the league behind only one win to the Lakers thus owning the home-court advantage throughout the Playoffs. First round the’ve got to face the Pistons and these are some pointers that they need in order to advance to the second round.
1. Steady Defense
This year the Cavs leads the points allowed per game with 91.35 ppg. LeBron as you may now is not only an offensive player, he can also be your though defender averaging 1.69 SPG and 1.15 BPG and with their version of twin towers (Ilgauskas and Wallace), they sure are the best when it comes to defense.
2. King James
Who else can you trust to lead this team? None other than LeBron James himself. James averaged 28.4 PPG, 7.6 RPG and 7.2 APG. The Detroit will be finding a hard time guarding this guy, I mean who in the NBA can guard James well? None of I know can shut his game up. He is also the one whose favored the most to win the MVP award, continue to led his team and never dissappoint the fans and they hope that he will stay in this franchise for long and if they want it better give this guy the ball and the ring.
3. Home-court Advantage
Too bad they have to lose their last game at their home, that’s right their home, against the Sixers, you read that right none other than the Sixers. Beside them the only one who beat the Cavs in their home is none other than the Lakers, so give them the credit that they also have the best home record of 39-2. I’m sure it will be a huge advantage for them especially against the Detroit.
Player’s Watchlist: Rodney Stuckey
Stuckey is a young guard for the much experienced Pistons team, but he play great for his team that he was able to take the starting role as their point guard, if the Cavs successfuly defend Rip and Sheed then they have to look out for this young guy whom can be explosive anytime on the court.
Weakness: To be honest, I can’t think of their weakness, I mean their offense is good and their defense in pretty impressive too. I guess if you see through it, they just need to make sure that the bench will provide them extra offense and defense and lastly they need to concentrate and they should not be that overconfident just because they have the best record in the NBA.
The Pistons however have a chance to win eventhough their opponent are the much favored to win in this round. So let’s check what this team needs to do in order to win some games and try to force game seven.
1. Execute the old plays with Hamilton and Sheed.
They should execute plays for Hamilton well knowing that no one in the Cavs can race with Hamilton except for Mo Williams and LeBron, but they know that there’s a height difference with Mo and LeBron may not be able to perform in offense well if the Cavs will always match him to Rip. So they just need to make good screens for Rip to deliver those baskets and also they need to secure shots for Rasheed may it be inside or in the perimeter.
2. Team Defense
Detroit is known for their steady defense and I think they will need a lot of defense to try and stop LeBron from penetrating or make sudden jumpshots.
Player’s Watchlist: Delonte West
Other than LeBron and Mo Williams, they should also look out for Delonte West. He’s one of those guys who will give the Cavs the extra offense needed and also the staggering defense outside.
Weakness: I think their weakness is the lack of bench depth. With Iverson on the injured list, they need a lot coming from guys such as Maxiell, Afflalo, Amir Johnson and Walter Herrmann.
(2) Boston Celtics v.s. (7) Chicago Bulls
The Defending Champs falls to the second spot after some disappointments that came this season. But still they are the defending champions and they will find a way to reclaim the crown.
1. Defending Champs
They have to play like a champion and you don’t have to question them if they will. They still got the some great players like Pierce, Allen, Rondo, Marbury and Garnett who is injured by the way…
2. Do the D!
They are the third in the league in points allowed, but they will have a hard time with Garnett out for the playoffs. They just need to work out their defense without their defending defensive player.
3. The bench are ready!
They are really ready, Tony Allen is back and after aquiring Marbury and Moore late in the season, the Celtics are ready to erase those doubts that their bench need some work.
Player’s Watchlist: Tyrus Thomas
Bulls got enough firepower and Boston got to find a way to stop them but too bad they have a player such as Thomas who is so far the most athletic guy in Bulls roster. Either the Celtics stop him from getting those lob passes or force him to pass the ball away since he can also shoot it from a distance.
Weakness: The only thing that will bother this team is playing without their vocal leader and defender, Kevin Garnett. They just have to find a way to replace Garnett, and it will likely be no problem if Leon Powe will continue to be healthy and Glen Davis continue to play good basketball.
The Bulls, however, are hoping to make an upset trying to beat the Celtics and they can do it, here’s some points to look at…
1. Rose is the heart & soul
Derrick Rose will continue to lead the rising Bulls to victory no doubt, Rose started to play like a veteran near the end of the season earning a spot in the playoffs and beating teams like Bucks, Pacers, Nets and Bobcats who also if you remember try to at least get the eight spot. I’m sure Coach Vinny will rely on his rookie guard and the rest of the team to beat the defending champs.
2. Connect 3’s
They have some players who can shoot it like Gordon, Hinrich and Salmons. They will have no problem if they connect most of their shots outside.
3. Don’t give 2nd chance points
Having Perkins for the Celtics is a trouble for the Bulls especially that they don’t have a matchup with the 280 pounds of Perkins. Noah is only at 232 lbs., Miller is at 261 lbs. and Tyrus is in 215 pounds. So they need to work on that defensive boards.
Player’s Watchlist: Glen Davis
Former teammates battling it out in our watchlist, if the Bulls got Tyrus then the Celtics have his former teammate at LSU, Glen Davis. Glen Davis can provide the Bulls some rough action inside the post area but what the Bulls should be aware of most is his outside shooting. At first I was surprised that he can shoot some threes and the Bulls should find a way to contain him and the rest of the gang.
Weakness: Bulls still missing the services of Luol Deng and they also need to work on their defense if they want to match up against the powerhouse of the Celtics.
(3) Orlando Magic v.s. (6) Philadelphia 76ers
Superman Dwight Howard and the Magic face-off AI9 and the Sixers in the first round of elimintation. Orlando had been steady all throughout the season and this year some say that they can go all the way to the Eastern Finals or even the Finals itself if they continue to play well.
1. Dominate the inside
You can rely on Howard on that. He’s been dominating the inside with his post up moves and powerful dunks. Howard’s been efficient with his field goal percentage since joining the Magic and it’s all thanks to his mentor none other than the great Patrick Ewing.
2. Fire ’em up!
Another option for the Magic, if you can’t pass it to Dwight then shoot that three! Their starters are amazing, besides Dwight as their center they have Alston, Lee, Turkoglu and Lewis and these four guys can shoot the three anytime needed. They also have Redick and Pietrus who can also shoot from time to time.
3. Force the Sixers to shoot outside
The Sixers don’t really have the player who can shoot it well from the ark. The only player they have that is over the 40% mark is Donyell Marshall with 45.5% but only played 25 games this season. Next to him are Ivey and Young who both have percentage under 34% and since Iguodala is much more effective as a slasher and not a shooter it will be a big problem for the Sixers since this team (Magic) is much more comfortable shooting three.
Player’s Watchlist: Thaddeus Young
Young is a major factor for the Sixers. He play good basketball, can play on any position given and can shoot the ball outside. I think the Magic should find a way to stop this guy from running and getting offensive rebounds.
Weakness: Injury is the problem for them. With Nelson out for the remainder of the season and Turkoglu is still suffering with his injury that happened in the last game of the season and also Lewis with some minor injury with his foot, they should find a way to replace the loss points if ever Lewis and turkoglu can’t play well. They have to trust guys such as Lee, Redick and Pietrus to deliever points for them.
The Sixers, however, still have a chance in this one. Eventhough Elton Brand have some injury problems and have not seen some quality time in the court. They turn to the players who they know can put points and play good defense.
1. Rotate the ball
In order not to get blocked by Howard that easy, the Sixers have to look for the best option thus rotate the ball well. They have a steady playmaker in Miller who can shoot the ball midcourt and Iguodala who can slash it all the way without hesitations.
2. Contest every shots
They know that the Magic will try to shoot the three or feed Howard the ball, so all they have to do is to contest every shots and stay composed in order not to give the Magic easy shots.
3. Andre duo
Andre Miller and Andre Iguodala is their primary option, if these two guys don’t play well I think they will have a high chance losing and vise versa.
Player’s Watchlist: Courtney Lee
Lee clearly have shown potential, being a great defender and a good scorer both inside and outside the court. The Sixers should find a way also to stop this rookie shooter if they want the game close.
Weakness: Like what I’ve mention, their main problem is the three point. But I guess they don’t need much of that for they have the speed to force fastbreaks and score easily. And also their bench lack some players who can provide quality minutes. Lou Williams is the only sixth man they need I guess.
(4) Atlanta Hawks v.s. (5) Miami Heat
Since acquiring Mike Bibby last season, the Hawks have fought their way to the top and it’s a good thing for them claiming the fourth spot in the East. hey, it’s still a comfortable place rather than being under the standings…
1. High octane offense
You’ve seen how Bibby play and he still plays like before. He has been their distributor and a profecient scorer and they’ll gonna need it against Wade and the Heat. And don’t forget Joe Johnson that eventhough he doesn’t have the fame like LeBron, Kobe or Wade, he still shoots the ball very well.
2. Bibby must play good
I’ve watched some games that Bibby played good and they won with a huge margin and there are times that Bibby will have a rough night resulting to a loss. So I think they should give him the ball early on and see if he’s stroking it or not.
3. Secure Home games
If you look at their standings their home games are impessive with 31-10 but when you look at the away games it’s the opposite with only 16 wins and 25 loss. So if they want to outdone the Heat, they must win all of their home games especially that they have the home court advantage over their opponent.
Player’s Watchlist: Michael Beasley
Beasley being a rookie for the Heat can bring toughness inside and outside the court. He’s much more stable as a player coming off the bench rather than as a starter since he had the tendency to get early foul trouble. But once he’s in his game, it will be hard to stop him.
Weakness: The problem with the Hawks is their big guys, they only have Horford, Pachulia and Jones that played if not all of the games but most of it and it will be a lot of trouble to deal with Jermaine O’neal and Haslem of the Heat if these three will have an early exit.
The Miami Heat wowed most of us after winning only 15 games last season and now claiming the fifth spot in the East and it’s all thanks to a much more healthier Wade and their new coach.
1. D-Wade Comeback
Having Wade this season and missing only two games has been a huge factor for the Heat. He leads the league in scoring and 8th in assists and he’s been their primary guy both offensively and defensively so I guess there’s nothing wrong if you need Wade he’ll always be on his A game.
Heat needs Wade but most of all Wade needs his teamates backing him up. They’ve got good balance on their roster with O’neal and Haslem as their primary inside threats, Wade, Moon and Beasley as the explosive players and Quinn and Cook as their shooters this team will definitely fight for that second round spot.
Player’s Watchlist: Marvin Williams
Williams is improving his game for the Hawks. He is effective to shoot the ball midcourt and get those second chance points, he’ll be a perfect match-up for Beasley and Moon for they have almost the same size and capability.
Weakness: Wade will be an important presence especially for their young guards such as Chalmers, Quinn and Cook who will be dealing with some veteran guards of the Hawks like Bibby, Johnson, Evans and Murry. So that is one of the problem that they need to look at.
Next is the Western Conference first round match-ups:
(1) Los Angeles Lakers v.s. (8) Utah Jazz
The Lakers are the only team in the West that reached over 60 wins and considered as the favorite to win the West title and try to win it all this as they have failed last season. We know they are strong so let’s look what they need in order to secure those w’s.
1. Kobe, Gasol and Bynum trio
With Andrew Bynum back in the roster, they will have no problem inside the court and when these three play well the Lakers will have no problem winning games that easy.
This is the key to all the wins, if you play good defense then you can produce good points. With Kobe hussling every open opportunity to grab the ball away from the opponent, they can easily hurdle up and score fastbreaks.
Player’s Watchlist: Ronnie Brewer
He’s been good with the Jazz. He creates opportunities to slash into defenders and connect with those alley-oops. If ever Kobe will be defending him, I think it will give Brewer a rough night every single game.
Weakness: The problem is who will they put on to Deron Williams? Fisher can’t handle all the pressure, even if he’s much more experinced guard than Williams, he doesn’t have the speed plus with Williams trying to ankle break every defender, Fisher will need a lot of help from Farmar and the rest of the squads.
The Jazz hold on to the last spot after losing most of the games ending the season, but they still have a chance and they are a strong team to battle with. So let’s look at their advantages as well as the disadvantages.
1. Deron, Boozer and Okur trio
Hey, they have also their own trio to match-up with the Lakers. These three players will be the major ones for Coach Sloan if they want this series close. Deron is clearly one of the best point guards today, Boozer’s game is always on top and Okur is an excellent shooter considering him as their center. It’s all up to them to lead this team to victory.
2. Do good in the perimeter
They have plenty of shooters with them. One of them is Okur who averages nearly 45% and you have Korver who’s in 39% mark and overall their team averages 35% outside. So it will be a big help to shoot those outside shots.
3. Control the game
Dealing with the Lakers is a tough assignment especially come playoffs. Good thing you have a loyal and veteran coach under Jerry Sloan (though never won a single title with the Jazz) can still give you a good game to watch. If they want to win over the Lakers, they need to control the tempo, never loose focus and try and stop Kobe.
Player’s Watchlist: Trevor Ariza
Ariza is the explosive guy off the bench, he runs with the ball well and he delievers fastbreaks in a flash. So they better watch this guy out, he can score anytime wanted.
Weakness: The away games is their problem. They have the worst away record in the eight teams that qualified in the playoffs for West, second in all behind Chicago. They really need a lot of focus especially the Lakers’ fans have been so loyal over the years.
(2) Denver Nuggets v.s. (7) New Orleans Hornets
The Nuggets have troubles whenever playoffs comes. They are always eliminated in the first round since Anthony joined them in 2003. But now that they seem to be much more stronger and composed team, they are ready to overcome the first round facing the Hornets.
This team must focus in order to win. They should forget bad memories of playoffs and play like where they are playing the whole season long. With Billups and Melo on their side, they should be able to do it.
2. Let the birdman do his thing
Chris Andersen is their main defensive threat and they are gonna need a lot of those high flying swats in order to keep the game close.
Player’s Watchlist: James Posey
Posey knows what’s it like come playoffs especially winning championships (2006 with Miami and 2008 with Boston). He’s a threat outside and is a good player off the bench.
Weakness: If they lose focus, they’re done. Martin have some disciplinary problem and Smith and Andersen can be a pain in the team for sometimes but they now that it’s playoffs and they should control their emotions and concentrate on the game.
The Hornets however have a chance with Paul leading them, they should not worry too much…
1. CP3 all the way
Chris Paul is their leader no doubt. I think that if he can play well every game and lead this team to the second round, there will be no problem.
2. Team Chemistry
They should not rely on Paul alone. They have some good players like West who can shoot the ball midrange, Chandler who can connect those alley-oops all the time and Stojakovic who is always license to shoot the ball beyond the ark.
Player’s Watchlist: Chris Andersen
They should be aware of Andersen. He is a good defender and an explosive forward. They should watch him out besides Anthony and the gang.
(3) San Antonio Spurs v.s. (6) Dallas Mavericks
The Spurs have been steady entering the playoffs. They can always be the NBA champion whenever they are that serious. They are really tough to deal with.
1. Control the inside
They have Duncan to utilize inside. He is great in low post as well as in pick and pops. And if Duncan is in the bench, they can always rely on Gooden and Thomas to secure the inside and grab rebounds.
2. Shoot the 3’s
The Spurs are one of the best teams when it comes to three point teritory. They have Mason, Finley, Bonner and Bowen who have beyond 40% mark. If they can’t be stop outside, no doubt, they will win.
Player’s Watchlist: JJ Barea
Barea had been great with the Mavs, as a back-up guard for Kidd he can give you the speed and the enough offense to keep the game close. Who else can he learn all of it but none other than Kidd himself.
Weakness: It such a loss that Manu won’t be able to join them until the end. It’s his first time not to play in the playoffs when the Spurs are in it. Still they are a strong team and they have been playing most of the games without him due to earlier injuries so they can still do it.
The Mavericks are a steady team too. They are once again in the playoffs with a balanced roster. They have the veterans and the young guns under a notable coach, Rick Carlisle.
1. Trust the veterans
They have Kidd and Nowitzki with them that will keep this team composed. They also have their 6th man wonder, Jason Terry. And though George and Stackhouse is still injured, their pressence is still important to the team.
2. Go with the 3’s
You have to battle with Spurs in this one. They have shooters like Dirk, Terry, Barea and Howard whose in the 35% mark and Kidd in nearly 41%. So if needed they should trust these shooters.
3. Match Duncan
Dampier is the best option for them to guard Duncan. He should not be on foul trouble most of their games or else it will be pain inside.
Player’s Watchlist: Roger Mason, Jr.
He is a huge threat outside and also during crunch times. You can’t doubt his shooting skills because if you thought that he will have a rough night just because he’s 2-8 in first half, well you’re wrong. He can recover easily and give you those awesome three points.
Weakness: They lack bigs, that’s it. They only have Dampier and Bass to try and stop Duncan, Gooden and Thomas. Dirk and Singleton can be the ones inside but who will guard Bonner? Player rotation is the key to success for them.
(4) Portland Trail Blazers v.s. (5) Houston Rockets
The Blazers enter the playoffs after a long time. With Roy leading them, they have been solid all season long. But how can they overcome Yao and the Rockets?
1. High energy
Most of their palyers are very young. They should be albe to utilize this very well. Run fastbreaks, defend well and force turnovers is the key.
2. They need the crowd
Their fans have been incredible. It will be a huge help for them especially that they have the home-court advantage against the Rockets.
3. The European players
They have Sergio Rodriguez and Rudy Fernandez from Spain and Nicolas Batum from France. Rodriguez is a good ball handler and an excellent shooter, Fernandez have full of energy and experience eventhough he’s very young and Batum is good defensively and can get those rebounds.
Player’s Watchlist: Aaron Brooks
This young guard has the speed of the devil and the hands of a shooter. Well most of the time he can shoot it. They must not let their guard down against Brooks.
Weakness: Playing in the playoffs for the first time will be tough especially facing the Rockets. It is good that they have the advantage in home. Also, they should keep Oden from foul trouble because they need him to contain Yao Ming.
The Rockets is a strong team no doubt. Even playing without McGrady, they still have the enough offense to fight the Blazers.
1. Strong defense
They have Artest who is known for his steady defense, they also have Battier who is an excellent perimeter defender and Yao who is 7 foot 6 monster inside. They must contain Roy and stop his penetrations.
2. Use Yao well
He will be an important player for them, he has the size advantage and he continue to improve his low post moves and follow through. It will be hard for the Blazers guarding him.
Player’s Watchlist: Rudy Fernandez
He’s just a very hardworking player whose trying to adapt the game of NBA. He’s good in three point shots, good defender and a very athletic guard. He’s dangerous all in all.
Weakness: Playing without T-Mac will be a problem, good thing they still have Battier and Artest to cope up all the loss points that McGrady might do.
Who knows who will be this year’s NBA champions? Will there be another upset like the one with Dallas and Golden State back then? Can LeBron lead the Cavs to the promised land before expiring his contract in 2010? Can the Celtics defend their title without KG? Or will Kobe win this time both MVP of the season and playoffs? No one knows unless you stay tuned and watch all of this year’s playoffs.