My hockey picks are doing okay, but I'm not as well versed on the teams as I am in basketball. NBA is one of my loves and I think I'll have better luck here.
LAKERS OVER JAZZ (5 games): The Lakers were clearly the best team in the West this year. Utah has been horrible over the last couple of weeks and there are rumblings that their free agents have their bags already packed. Salt Lake City is just so tough a place to play that I think Utah will squeak out one win. But the Lakers take it back to Staples to finish it.
BLAZERS OVER ROCKETS (7 games): This could be a great series. I'm siding with Portland just because of the overall talent level. But there are some great matchups here. Ron Artest will guard Brandon Roy a bit. I'd like to see how Greg Oden and Yao Ming hold up. Rip City vs Rose City. I just don't think that Houston has the horses to advance.
SPURS OVER MAVERICKS (5 games): This is a dream matchup for San Antonio. They play the Mavs well and it means they don't have to face the Hornets.
NUGGETS OVER HORNETS (7 games): I want to pick the Hornets here. Badly. But I can't trust them for anything. The postseason is just so physical and N'Awlins has had so much trouble keeping guys healthy. Of course, this means I trust Denver ... which I don't. But I do trust Chauncey Billups and the fact that the Nuggets have been playing well over the last month.
CAVALIERS OVER PISTONS (4 games): I don't see any way that Detroit hangs with Cleveland. The Pistons have dragged all season long and this should be the end of the road for the Pistons as we knew them. Cleveland gets a first round bye.
HAWKS OVER HEAT (6 games): I hesitate about it being six games (that means Atlanta clinches in Miami). I love what Dwyane Wade has done this season, but he is going to have to carry this team in this series. Joe Johnson has quietly had a fantastic season and Atlanta just has a better team around him. Wade will drop our jaws, per usual. I just don't think it will be enough.
MAGIC OVER SIXERS (5 games): I love Orlando and think they could topple Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals. But first thing's first. Philly has struggled down the stretch and look like a bad mismatch against the Magic. I think this one goes away quickly.
CELTICS OVER BULLS (6 games): People are counting Boston out due to Kevin Garnett being done for the playoffs. This is still a decent team without him. Decent enough to beat Chicago. That being said, Chicago will bring some heat on the C's and will leave 'em bloodied and battered.
Yes, I picked all the favorites. So what? They are favorites for a reason. The No. 4 vs No. 5 series are all golden and I love the Nuggets-Hornets battle. But all this should be an appetizer before we get to a course where we could see Lakers-Blazers, Spurs-Nuggets, Magic-Celtics and Cavaliers-Heat.