If you would have told me on April 27th that by May 10th the Chicago Bulls would be chillin' on Pier 5 taking part in #TilapiaThursday, I would have hit you with the #schmick (pictured left).
If you would have also told me that on April 28th, Derrick Rose would have a near triple double and then blow out his ACL AND Joakim Noah would get knocked out for the rest of the playoffs with a severely sprained ankle, I would have hit you with a brick.
And if you would have told me that the Bulls would hold the Sixers to under 40% shooting for four consecutive games and LOSE three out of those four, I would have walked away. But, as it stands, that is exactly what happened leaving myself and Bulls fans every where dazed and confused. I have more to say about the Bulls, but that might have to get said another day. As it stands, the Sixers punched their ticket to the second round of the playoffs to face the player known as the Big Ticket and his comrades in Boston.
Boston struggled to put Atlanta away but eventually did. The funny thing is that if Atlanta had taken care of business in game 2 of this series, things may have played out differently. Rajon Rondo was suspended for that game which meant Jeff Teague and the Hawks should have had a field day, but Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett had other plans. It was a hard fought series but the Hawks simply don't have what it takes to seriously compete for an NBA Championship. On the other hand, things seem to be lining up in the Celtics' favor.
I was a little surprised that the Knicks also got one for pride after the way Miami dominated them for the first three games of the series. Of course, it took 41 points from Carmelo Anthony and hilarious end-game play calling from Erik Spoelstra to get the Knicks their lone victory in the series. Game one of this series was about as dominating a performance as you can get by one team over another when Miami smashed the Knicks 100-67. They toyed with the Knicks for the most part. The only area of concern is the fact that they allowed an inferior opponent to beat them in what should have been a simple closeout game. I don't forsee too many problems for them in the second round, but it will be in stark contrast to the highlight show that this round was for the Heat.
Here are the second round matchups in the Eastern Conference (season series breakdown in parenthesis):
2 Miami Heat (MIA won 3-1)
3 Indiana Pacers
4 Boston Celtics (PHI won 2-1)
8 Philadelphia 76ers
Miami should beat the Pacers in five games. If they sweep the Pacers, I wouldn't be surprised and but if they lost more than one game I would be definitely surprised and if they lost the series I would laugh hysterically. Indiana has much better role players, but Miami has LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. When any two out of those three have it going they're tough to beat and if three out of three are rolling then forget about it. Indiana's lead guys are Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert and David West. Case closed.
Philadelphia handled Boston in two out of their three regular season matchups but the tables will definitely be turned in this playoff matchup. Philadelphia capitalized on a few things in their series against Chicago that are stacked against them in a series with Boston. For one, Boston has one of the best point guards in the NBA at the helm in Rajon Rondo which will require Jrue Holiday to have to expend energy on the defensive end. Boston also has quite a few options to go to for scoring in addition to having Rondo to set the table for his team. And Philadelphia can forget about enjoying a free throw advantage against Boston. Without Derrick Rose, Chicago lacked a dynamic slasher who could get to the basket and draw fouls. Boston has Paul Pierce and again has Rondo who can get his teammates in position to score and draw fouls on Philadelphia. Defense is going to be stifling in this series as both teams are excellent defensive ball clubs, however the Celtics' weapons will trump anything the Sixers can throw at them. The Celtics will move on in five.
Thus setting the stage for a rematch in the Eastern Conference Finals of one of last year's East Semi-Finals matchups with the Celtics taking on the Heat.
The second round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs starts tomorrow when Philadelphia travels to Boston for game 1 of their semi-final series. Game 1 of the Indiana-Miami series is on Sunday.