Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Cleveland Cavs To Crush the Detroit Pistons

LeBron James is a fast learner.

Last year, the Cavs superstar couldn't handle the truth.

Ever the student though, James saw first hand just how important home court advantage is in the playoffs.

Sometimes we don't like the way we learn lessons. But the point is that as long as something is learned, then losing isn't all bad.

Quite clearly, James was adamant that if there was going to be any series deciding games to be played this year, then they were going to be played in front of his adoring fans.

So he went out and made the Cavs virtually impenetrable at home, going 39-1 at the Q this season. If Cleveland beats Philadelphia tonight, they will have posted the same record the 1986 NBA champions Boston Celtics did.

The lone blemish was a stinker though and one that James won't forget anytime soon. The Lakers were playing the last of a six-game Eastern road swing with the Cavs the final stop. Kobe Bryant was feeling awful. He'd vomited prior to the game and shouldn't have been playing. Instead he came out and delivered a big win ensuring a sweep against the Cavs.

LeBron struggled, he shot just 5-for-20 from the field and finished with 16 points. Kobe only scored 19 but he "out-matured" Kobe.

Despite that one slip up, the Cavs have turned the Q into a graveyard for everyone else. The Pistons have not enjoyed facing LeBron in the playoffs and they are less equipped to face them this year than they were in the past, when they were a solid, cohesive unit.

That all changed when Pistons GM Joe Dumars traded away Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson.

To say the move backfired on Dumars is an understatement.

Iverson at the Pistons has been a complete failure. To be fair though, after taking Darko Millic second in the 2003 draft, it was only Dumars second blip and expect him to pull off a shrewd move in the Summer to compensate for it.

Summer is the time for golf clubs and the Pistons will get plenty of use out of them this year.

Cleveland in four.

Miami Heat To Burn the Atlanta Hawks In Round One

The NBA playoff picture won't be fully decided for a few more hours, but there are some first round matchups that are already locked in.

The first one we're going to look at is the No. 4 seed Atlanta Hawks against the No. 5 seed Miami Heat.

The Hawks will be hosting the first round of a playoff series on home court for the first time since 1997, but like last year, they are only going to last one round.

Apart from LeBron James, Dwyane Wade is the single most destructive player in the East and while Joe Johnson is a solid player himself, he cannot carry the Hawks in the way that Wade can carry the Heat.

Atlanta simply don't have anybody capable of stopping Flash. Wade has been outstanding this year and has shown how dangerous he is when he stays healthy. He'll win the NBA scoring title and we'll probably finish in the top 3 voting for the MVP.

The only concern with Wade is his health. He'll play heavy minutes and his style of play means that he spends a lot of time at the free throw line. Most importantly though, Wade realizes that there are times when he simply has to take over and carry his team. It's not an ideal way to try to win a championship, but it will certainly be enough to get past the Hawks.

Atlanta will look to veteran Mike Bibby to take on a heavier scoring load, but Bibby is only serviceable these days, not deadly. Young center Al Horford has shown signs of improvement but he is limited offensively, enough so that the old legs of Jermaine O'Neal will be able to match up with him easily enough.

Joe Johnson showed against the Celtics in last seasons first round that he is an intelligent playoff basketballer by scoring a lot of high-percentage baskets, but he needs to explode like Wade can if the Hawks are going to progress beyond the first round.

They won't, Heat in five.