I'm finally moving on from the regular-season portion of my early predictions (those last two posts took waaay too long) and delving into some early playoff picks. Remember, this is sort of like a season preview except we're more than a quarter of the way into this thing.
(1) Boston Celtics defeat (8) Toronto Raptors
(2) Orlando Magic def. (7) Philadelphia 76ers
(3) Cleveland Cavaliers def. (6) Chicago Bulls
(4) Atlanta Hawks def. (5) Miami Heat. If this first-round rematch occurs, expect the same result: four Atlanta victories.
(1) Los Angeles Lakers def. (8) New Orleans Hornets
(2) San Antonio Spurs def. (7) Phoenix Suns. Wouldn't it be funny to see these two teams hook up again after all their recent playoff battles (2003, '05, '07, '08--all won by the Spurs)?
(3) Portland Trail Blazers def. (6) Utah Jazz
(4) Denver Nuggets def. (5) Dallas Mavericks. These teams met in the second round in '09.
(1) Boston Celtics def. (4) Atlanta Hawks
(2) Orlando Magic def. (3) Cleveland Cavaliers. Rematch of Eastern finals.
(1) Los Angeles Lakers def. (4) Denver Nuggets. Rematch of Western finals.
(2) San Antonio Spurs def. (3) Portland Trail Blazers
(2) Orlando Magic def. (1) Boston Celtics. This one is basically a coin flip for me, but it seems Boston has a more injury-prone team, so I gave the edge to the Magic. Orlando beat Boston in the 2nd round last season, but Garnett did not play in that series.
(1) Los Angeles Lakers def. (2) San Antonio Spurs. Battle of the top franchises of the decade.
Los Angeles Lakers def. Orlando Magic. I wouldn't be surprised to see a rematch of either of the last two Finals (L.A. vs. either Orlando or Boston). Hollywood repeats its title.