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Doc's 2005 NBA Playoffs Predictions by Jeremy Martin
The NBA playoffs are upon us and this is the point at which the long professional hoops season gets exciting. Eight teams from each conference made the postseason and there are definitely some interesting matchups on the board. Doc's will examine two playoff matchups - one from the West and one from the East - and give our predictions on who will come out ahead.
San Antonio Spurs/Denver Nuggets
Series Price: San Antonio -500/Denver +400
We love the Spurs here at this relatively cheap price. Denver is the team that no one wanted to face in the first round. This squad has won 25 of its last 29 games. The Nuggets are the hottest team in the NBA heading into the playoffs.
The Spurs are banged up right now. Tim Duncan has been a regular on the injured list and he will not be 100 percent to start this series. Devin Brown will likely miss the rest of the playoffs with an ailing back. Brent Barry missed the season finale against Minnesota and he is likely to play in the series opener, although he too will likely be less than 100 percent. The outlook for Rasho Nesterovic is not as peachy. The reserve center has missed six games with a sprained left ankle and he is listed as doubtful for the opener. This will put even more emphasis on the injury to Duncan as the team will be thin on depth at that position.
The Spurs, however, are the most complete team in the NBA and we feel they will overcome these injury issues and take the series. The scheduling is favorable for San Antonio as they have two days of rest after each of the first two games of the series. This will give them ample time to heal the bumps and bruises.
The Spurs are absolutely dominant at home, where they have only lost three games out of 41 played there this season. San Antonio plays suffocating defense at the SBC Center as it allows only 84 points per game at home. This is a full four points under the Spurs overall defensive points per game average for the season (home and away). It will be hard for the Nuggets to wrestle away home-court advantage and as long as San Antonio gets the job done at home they will not have much to worry about in this series.
Denver's defense hasn't been that good. They give up almost ten points more than the Spurs on average for the season and in recent games they have surrendered more than 100 points in eight straight games and 115 or more in their final three. The Nuggets have also dropped two of the last three to close out the season.
The Nuggets have their own injury problems as they have several players on the injured list, including Marcus Camby, who is listed as probable for Sunday's game. Camby's health will be a main priority for the Nuggets is they hope to counter Duncan.
Chicago Bulls/Washington Wizards
Series Price: Chicago -145/Washington +125
This is another battle of offense versus defense and we will once again go with the old cliché, "defense wins championships." The Wizards give up more than 100 points per game on the season while the Bulls allow only 93. They are even better at home defensively where they have put together a 27-14 record on the season. They led the league in holding opponents to 42.2 shooting from the field.
Chicago will be without two if its key players, Luol Deng and Eddy Curry, but we feel that they will continue to play well and do the things they have done to be successful all season.
The Wizards have not been a great road team this season as they have put together a 16-25 record away from the MCI Center. This team has been very streaky. They finished off the season on a two-game slide (the first loss determined that this series would start in Chicago instead of Washington). In between that they won four straight on the heels of a five-game slide. Before that losing streak they had won four in a row. Get the picture?
The Bulls are entering the playoffs hot as they have won 15 of their last 19. Chicago has had to deal with multiple injuries and they have worked through them and continued to be successful. This team practices strong fundamental basketball and that is a credit to Coach Scott Skiles.
The Bulls have been hot at home, where they have won seven of the last nine. We do not know how long this series will go but we think it will be tough for the Wizards to steal one away in Chicago on the road. The Bulls also have the third best road record in the Eastern Conference this season at 20-21. They did, however, lose twice in Washington. This team set a franchise record by holding 26 straight opponents under 100 points in December and January.
Washington has a talented team but we think they need another year before they are ready to advance past the first round of the playoffs. Chicago seems to be ready to take that next step now.
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