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NBA Playoff Preview: The Year of the THUNDER?

by Troy Fite

I can’t remember the last time I was so excited about a sports team that I actually had high hopes about going into a postseason.  There have been plenty of expectations that I’ve had before on my sports teams (like all of those national title game losses with my OU football teams), but my emotional ties to the Thunder are almost palpable.  I would love to pick them to win it all, but my head just won’t let me.  It’s a little too soon to say that they will win it all this year.  Don’t get me wrong, they could.  They have the championship makeup of a winning team in the NBA, but I still think that it’s too soon to say that would happen. So instead I will be giving you who I think will win and why.

Let’s start in the not-too-difficult-to-predict Eastern Conference.  If there’s a person who thinks that the Indiana Pacers, the 8 seed, will make it a competitive series against the top-seeded Chicago Bulls, that individual should never watch sports again.  This was the easiest pick in the entire playoff bracket for me.  The Bulls defense is simply too good for the Pacers.

The next matchup is the Heat vs 76ers.  The Heat seem to have gelled toward the end of the year but to me, Miami is still the biggest wild card in the entire field.  The Heat really didn’t play as a team all year because it was pretty much D-Wade and Lebron carrying them the entire season.  Chris Bosh is a joke to me.  He’s the guy who puts up 25 points and 12 rebounds against teams like the Timberwolves but when he plays a team like the Celtics, he folds like a Bob Stoops National title contender (still bitter over all of those losses).  But now they have seemingly found a way to play together and that could mean gloom and doom for the rest of the teams in the playoffs.  What Doug Collins has done with this 76ers team is great but there just isn’t enough firepower on that team to take the Heat past 5 games.

This takes us to the most intriguing matchup in the first round in the East of Celtics vs Knicks.  Let’s get one thing out of the way.  The Celtics have been worse than an average ball club since the All-Star break.  In their last 21 games of the regular season they had a 10-11 record.  The infamous Kendrick Perkins trade that Danny Ainge coordinated has not only made them worse defensively, but also cohesively. Continue reading NBA Playoff Preview: The Year of the THUNDER?