Friday, April 16, 2010

Bulls vs. Cavs: 2010 1st Round Series Preview; Playoff Predictions!

By Sean Mackey

This is what we've all been waiting for. The 2010 NBA playoffs are here! There's some great opening round match ups this year and there's sure to be some upsets. The thing that's great about the NBA playoffs is that they're the most efficient of any sport. You have to win 4 out of 7 games. It's hard to argue who was the better team overall after someone wins 4 games in a series. Although a lot of naysayers will argue that the NCAA Tournament is the most fun to watch, it's hardly the most efficient, same with the NFL Playoffs. Two years ago the New England Patriots went undefeated the entire season, but lost in the Super Bowl. Had there been a best of 7 series, the Patriots would have probably won. No wonder Tom Brady boycotted the Pro Bowl, I'd be mad too. It would be terrible to be perfect and then lose the ONE deciding game that makes you a champion. The UK Wildcats had 5 NBA caliber players this season. They lost just 2 games throughout the year but ended up losing to West Virginia in the tournament. I'd like to argue UK would have won the whole thing this year had there been a best of seven series, or even 3 of 5. However, an NCAA tournament with best of 5 or 7 series would be terribly time consuming and stretch 3 months long. The NBA Playoffs take about 2 months to get through but their fun to watch nonetheless.

The Chicago Bulls will begin their opening round series against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday afternoon. While the Bulls are pegged by many to lose the series within 5 games, I still feel that anything is possible. The Dallas Mavericks meltdown of 2007 proved that upsets can happen. The Bulls tied the season series with the Cavs 2-2. The first win was by 1 point with a fully healthy Cavs team and a hobbled Bulls one. The 2nd win was last week while LeBron was resting. The two Cavs victories were by a combined 21 points which isn't much. Cleveland will now have Shaq and LeBron activated and also have a legit PF and former all-star in Antwan Jamison to work with. The Cavs really have no reason to lose any series this year but I have a feeling that the Orlando Magic will be able to handle them. Orlando just has too many good shooters and the best center in the world. LeBron is the Cleveland Cavaliers. They proved this last week that they can't beat anyone without him. Regardless, the Cavs have way more depth than the Bulls and that's what will eventually topple this Chicago team. Had the Bulls kept Salmons and Thomas, this series would be a whole lot more complicated. While Flip Murray and Hakim Warrick are nice pieces, they're really not 2nd and 3rd guys off the bench. Let's take a look at the depth of each roster.

Chicago Bulls 2010 playoff roster

C - Noah/Miller/Richard
PF - Gibson/Warrick
SF - Deng/Johnson/Alexander/Kurz
SG - Hinrich/Murray/Brown
PG - Rose/Pargo/Law

Cleveland Cavaliers 2010 playoff roster

C - O'Neal/Ilgauskas
PF - Jamison/Varejao/Williams/Powe
SF - James/Hickson/Moon/Green
SG - Parker/West
PG - Williams/Gibson/Telfair

As you can see the Cavs have a lot more weapons than the Bulls. Hinrich and Gibson are both going to have to turn it up to 11 if they want to have any chance of winning this thing. Deng and Johnson are taking on the the toughest task in the basketball world, guarding LeBron James. In the Bulls first win against the Cavs this season, Chicago was somehow able to make LeBron James a jump shooter and while he's one of the best at that, he wasn't hitting contested shots. I'm hoping that VDN will trust James Johnson a little more this series and let him guard LeBron some. He's proven throughout the year that he's capable of playing defense so it'll be interesting to see if he's played a whole lot although my gut tells me he won't be. The Bulls anchor stars Rose and Noah will have to be spectacular this series if they want any chance of stealing some games. Look for the Cavs to get Noah and Gibson in foul trouble early, but also look for Derrick Rose to score 25-30 points a night. Will it be enough? Probably not but anything can happen.

Sean's prediction: Cavs over Bulls 4-2

Below you see a playoff bracket of sorts along with my predictions of who will win them. Andrew over at is having a contest. Head on over to his site, register and post your playoff bracket in the "contest" section for a chance to win a Derrick Rose t-shirt and a basketball encyclopedia. Good luck to the Bulls and follow our twitter feed at for up to the minute updates during the upcoming playoff games.


Eastern Conference

1st Round
(1) Cavs over (8) Bulls (4-2)
(2) Magic over (7) Bobcats (4-1)
(3) Hawks over (6) Bucks (4-1)
(4) Celtics over (5) Heat (4-2)

2nd Round
(1) Cavs over (5) Celtics (4-1)
(2) Magic over (3) Hawks (4-1)

Eastern Conference Finals
(2) Magic over (1 ) Cavs (4-3)

Western Conference
1st Round
(1) Lakers over (8) Thunder (4-2)
(2) Mavericks over (7) Spurs (4-1)
(3) Suns over (6) Blazers (4-0)
(4) Nuggets over (5) Jazz (4-3)

2nd Round
(1) Lakers over (5) Nuggets (4-2)
(3) Suns over (2) Mavericks (4-2)

Western Conference Finals
(1) Lakers over (3) Suns (4-2)

Finals: Magic over Lakers 4-3
2010 NBA Champion: Orlando Magic