Saturday, May 05, 2007

NBA Playoff Impressions: The East Semis Are Set.

Nets 98, Raptors 97 - New Jersey pulls off the upset in six games that damn near everyone was expecting: no one really looked to this Toronto team to advance past veterans like Kidd, Carter, and Jefferson, despite their utter lack of a post presence. Despite that, this was the one Eastern series that provoked any sort of excitement or close play, and Game Six was the same way: won a Richard Jefferson shot with eight seconds left in the game. Enjoy it while you still can, Jersey fans.

Now, let's have a look at the Eastern semifinals and make some blissfully uninformed picks:

Bulls vs. Pistons -- competitive series, to be sure. The way Ben Gordon and Luol Deng have come on so far is nothing short of incredible to watch. However, that was a decrepit Miami team on the court (despite my thought that the Heat would win in six), and it showed. This is the first real test, and while they'll give the Pistons a really good workout, this series will be over in six games, in Detroit's favor -- due to experience, and the way they spread the points around to all five starters, plus Antonio McDyess.

Nets vs. Cavaliers -- If there is anything I have harped on more and more with these recaps, it has been the Cavaliers' miserable attempts at defense. Despite sweeping a Wizards team that is a shadow of itself without Caron Butler or Gilbert Arenas, none of those four Cavs wins were what anyone would call dominating. Antawn Jamison was repeatedly allowed to score 30+ points in those four games. The Nets lack a post game, but unless Zydrunas Ilgauskas somehow makes them pay for not having an inside defender and LeBron James has another performance like last year against Detroit in the semis, I'm giving this series to playoff experience. Nets in five, but I would love to be wrong.

(Photo: NBAE/Getty Images/Jesse D. Garrabranth)

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