May 16, 2010

The final fours

by Dan Bilicki In: Basketball, Ice Hockey

I can’t remember the last time that both the NBA conference finals and the NHL conference finals have started on the same day. It seems because the NBA’s second round was shorter than expected with three sweeps and the NHL’s second round seriously dragged, we’re getting a nice syncing up of post-seasons. You can also figure that ice hockey wouldn’t usually be dumb enough to pass up a Saturday night’s worth of action, but — surprisingly — they made the wrong call.

So, with the tip offs and puck drops starting on Sunday, why not give out a few predictions.

Lakers over Suns in six.
As timeless as Grant Hill is and as media-savvy Jared Dudley is, neither are truly capable of stopping Kobe Bryant. Sure, Derek Fisher may not be able to stop Steve Nash, but Kobe is a far better volume scorer … Pau Gasol vs. Amare Stoudemire may be a wash, but throw Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum into the big-man mix and the Lakers have a huge advantage … The Sun may be able to run and score against the Lakers, but L.A. is adaptable enough to play that sort of game or change the tempo themselves.

Celtics over Magic in seven.
Orlando has looked unstoppable this post-season and will be very tough to stop. But the Celtics are the perfect type of tough team that can really beat up on them. Foul Vince Carter enough and he’s sure to pack it in sooner or later … Dwight Howard will have to really step it up to take out the Celtics. Kevin Garnett is the type of dirty player that can get under his skin and possibly put in foul trouble … The best way that the Magic can get past this series is if they shoot the lights out from three. If that doesn’t happen, the Celts improbable run to the finals will come to fruition.

Blackhawks over Sharks in six.
This isn’t the San Jose Sharks of yesteryear. No, those Sharks would have drowned by now. The Olympics apparently hardened Joe Thornton and his linemates, but the same can be said for the Blackhawks, who have even more Olympians … The edge has to go to the Blackhawks, who have a much better defence core, but this series will be a hard fought one.

Canadiens over Flyers in seven.
Only in the NHL could you ever get a conference finals series where the No. 7 actually has home-court advantage … The Habs, surprisingly, have the bets goalie left in the playoffs and Jaroslav Halak should be the difference in this series … Even with Chris Pronger in front of him, can Michael Leighton really guide a team to the Cup finals? I don’t think so. The Habs incredible run continues.

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