Just in case you still have no idea what big, dramatic changes can happen once your backs are on the wall, go ahead and ask the Phoenix Suns and the Orlando Magic.
A few days ago, their respective rivals, the LA Lakers and the Boston Celtics were being hailed already as the eventual foes in the NBA Finals–a revival of their storied rivalry. Phoenix, which was down 0-2 in their series, and Orlando, aiming for the impossible with a 0-3 ditch, were already being dismissed as footnotes to what was shaping up as the second face-off between the Lakers and the Celtics in the league’s grandest stage in the 21st century.
Well, the Suns and Lakers just proved all speculations against them premature.
As of this writing, the Suns have tied their series against the Lakers at two games apiece. The Magic, on the other hand, are attempting a first in NBA history–a comeback from a 0-3 deficit. And with two straight wins already, Stan Van Gundy’s crew are robbing the Celtics their prized momentum. Phoenix, on the other hand, may have finally found their rhythm against the defending champs, and they’re expecting one win at home, steal one game on the road, and try to seal the deal for them.
But, lest we forget, big dramatic changes can also sway on LA and Boston’s side.
If it were that LA and Boston were just pushover teams in the league, then we can go ahead and underestimate them. If it were that LA and Boston did not earn their way to the playoffs convincingly, then we can just forget about their bid for a Finals appearance. If it were that LA and Boston were not vanquishing their respective foes in championship caliber fashion, then let’s give Phoenix and Orlando their tickets to their first-ever meeting in early June.
That is, if it were the case.
Boston will be playing Orlando at the TD Bankworth Garden. If that does not mean anything to you, maybe “homecourt advantage” rings a bell. LA has the same ace card as well over Phoenix. The only problem is that Boston’s homecourt advantage is just one game. If this one slips away from their hand, then they have a big problem–a game seven at Orlando’s home base. Boston would rather be staying in their hotels at home, rather than boarding the next flight to Florida. LA still has two games at home to spare, something that they will be surely defending with their lives.
Don’t expect anything to come easy for these four teams, especially at this point in the Conference Finals.
What has unfolded over the weekend at the NBA Playoffs has pushed me to look back at our fearless forecasts and see which of them still holds.
Lakers vs. Thunder [prediction: Lakers in 5]
This one’s not anymore true, as the Thunder has pushed it so far to a six-game duel. If LA takes the next two games, then the other half of our forecast holds.
Jazz vs. Nuggets [prediction: Nuggets in 6]
Not anymore, it ain’t six games. The undermanned Jazz is in command at 3-1. Denver will have to push for the ultimate jugular by winning the last three games. And if they don’t, our prediction’s busted for this match altogether.
Suns vs. Blazers [prediction: Portland in 7]
With the series tied at 2 games apiece, the only way this prediction fails is if Phoenix aces their next two assignments–assignments that Brandon Roy could foil. His return mixes up all factors into the playoffs, and our forecast might just come through.
Spurs vs. Mavs [prediction: Mavs in 6]
This is the only prediction that I am utterly glad and delighted to be wrong. I’m a big Spurs fan, but at first I really thought the Mavs would be tougher this time around, especially if you look at how last year’s playoff match between them ended. But things have turned out entirely different than our forecasts. Definitely, it won’t be just six games anymore, as the Spurs are ahead 3-1. Dallas will have to win the next three straight games, or their off-season summer officially starts.
Cavaliers vs. Bulls [prediction: Cavaliers in 5]
One more win by the Cavs and our prediction will fully come true. Derrick Rose better pull out his best tricks up from his sleeves, or else their journey ends on the road at Cleveland.
Celtics vs. Heat [prediction: Celtics in 6]
Since they have gone 3-0 already, even before D-Wade took over earlier in their game four atrocity and winning one for the Heat, the Boston Celtics are coming back home for a chance to go for the kill. Unless Miami robs one on the road, the series will end at five games in Boston, for Boston.
Hawks vs. Bucks [prediction: Hawks in 4]
Well, there’ll be no sweep victory for the Hawks in this first round obstacle, as the Bucks bounce back to stay alive in the series. The Hawks are still favored to win this round, but not without facing the fear of the deer.
Magic vs. Bobcats [prediction: Magic in 5]
Definitely, after going up 3-0, Magic will win this series, as no team has bounced back from a 0-3 deficit to win the series. But they will have to fight some more to prove that they did not just fluked their way to the playoffs. One game will at least give them a playoff win, and prove our prediction true.
Since our predictions are two-part (who wins, and in how many games), we’re quite sure that Orlando and Boston are going into the next round. One more set of duels and we’ll get to see how our forecasts went for the first round of the 2010 NBA Playoffs.