ORLANDO, FL - APRIL 18: A view of the arena before the Charlotte Bobcats take on the Orlando Magic in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Amway Arena on April 18, 2010 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
The NBA Playoffs are finally upon us and all of the people at Fear the Sword are ready to deliver their playoff predictions to you.
In the comments section you'll have to share yours with us and give us any insights about potential upsets or just give us your picks in general. We'll take a look back at this in late June to see how we did but since many of the picks are going to be the same it's likely that at least a couple people will nail it all.
Please make sure to list the exact number of games you think the Finals will go because if we have multiple people tying we'll go with a tiebreaker.
Check out everyone's predictions after the jump.
Finals: Oklahoma City over Miami in 6
Finals: Oklahoma City over Chicago in 6
Chicago's Key Asset: Bench
I'd argue that both Chicago's bench could take on Philly's starting five and win in seven. They're that good and, in this bracket in the East, it's key. Both Atlanta and Boston are dealing with injuries and aren't particularly deep to begin with, so Chicago will be able to make quick work of either on the strength of their bench, hopefully allowing Rose to get the rest he needs for the final showdown with Miami. While the Heat made quick work of the Bulls last year with a fully healthy MVP Derrick Rose, that was before their bench has glued to what it is today. With Chicago's bench firing on all cylinders, and Miami's being bogged down with guys like Eddy Curry. I think that's enough to give Chicago the edge in what I think will be a very close, very fun conference finals between the two. That said...
Chicago's Biggest Liability: Derrick Rose's Health
It's been a problem all year, but it's going to be an even bigger issue in the playoffs. If Rose isn't healthy, the Bulls can't beat the Heat in seven. End of story. While they'll be able to get past the 76ers with no problems and squeak out a victory against the Celtics/Hawks without Rose, they absolutely need Derrick Rose in the game, at 100%, if they want to get past Miami in the Conference Finals. If nothing else, they need a healthy Rose to tie up LeBron on defense. If Rose has to sit, or isn't at the top of his game and LeBron is free to harass a backcourt of John Lucas III and Rip Hamilton, the Bulls are doomed.
Oklahoma City's Key Asset: A Cooler Westbrook
I'm not saying that Westbrook is a better player than Durant, not at all. However, I think the lessons that Russell Westbrook learned late last postseason he will be invaluable to OKC this go around. After being criticized endlessly for his shot selection, his perceived desire to not pass to Durant and spastic play, Russ has calmed down this season. His shot selection has improved. His play with Durant is more fluid. He's learned to distribute rather than take crazy shots or ill-advised drives through the lane. He's an all around better player and OKC is better off because of it. With Durant in the zone, Westbrook focused and on point and a healthy Harden, the West is OKC's for the taking. Oh yea, wait a minute...
Oklahoma City's Biggest Liability: James Harden's Head
James Harden is coming off a concussion from getting absolutely rocked by Ron Artest's elbow. Yes, I know his name is now Metta World Peace, but trust me, that was Ron Artest's elbow. Concussions suck and, even if he's deemed to be 100%, it can still impact Harden's play. Unfortunately for OKC, Harden's had to dig the team our from more than a few holes this season when Durant and Westbrook took awhile to heat up and get going. If Harden's not able to do that, OKC's going to have a hard journey ahead of them, especially since they're going to have to go through the defending champs, the Lakers and either Memphis, the Clippers or San Antonio to get there. Sorry Utah and Denver fans, but I don't think it's happening for either team this year.
Why the Thunder over the Bulls?
I don't think Derrick Rose is going to make it past both Miami and OKC. Face it, as long as Chicago's dreams of a championship go through LeBron James, they're going to have problems. While I think Chicago has enough in them to make it past Miami, it's going to come at a cost. LeBron can abuse Rose in ways few in this league can. Even if Rose goes into that series 100%, with the kind of nagging injuries he's had all season, he's not coming out of it 100%. And then he'd have to go through another elite PG in Russell Westbrook. His path to the rim has to go through both Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins. Speaking of which, Boozer has to deal with the two of them as well. Harden's going to be covered by old man Rip Hamilton. Oh yea, and then there's Kevin Durant. While Chicago can win the East with what they have, I think they're going to have a hard time going up against whoever comes out of the West. Chicago starts off strong ant home, but never recovers from their trip to OKC.
Finals: Miami over San Antonio in 7
John Hollinger (ESPN)
Finals: San Antonio over Miami in 6
**Picks from the other four members of FTS should be up soon as I didn't get the email out to them until yesterday afternoon. Keep an eye out for them to be up later today, hopefully.