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Everybody, Your Time Is Up

NBA Season

That's it folks. No KG, no Kobe, no bull from here on out. As we enter the first round of the playoffs, some matchups will upend favorites, making great seasons not so great. If anything, these 2005 playoffs have a lot of top teams with very little playoff experience and that will make for some interesting games. So without further ado...

Eastern Conference
The entire season has been a team two race. But lately the Bulls have inserted themselves as a team to be reckoned with. It's still all Detroit and Miami, but at least one of the semi bracket games will be interesting.

Miami vs New Jersey
Does it really matter who Miami plays? No. Shaq rolls and the rest of the team follows his lead. Against New Jersey, Miami will have to make sure to play their game. Jason Kidd is a master of finding a team's weakness and exploiting it.
Key: Diesel's health. Bet on him to be able to play and contribute at a high level.
Result: Heat 4-1.

Detroit vs Philadelphia
Look for the Pistons to play it straight up and stay home against everybody and force AI to do it all himself. The Pistons will once again show everybody what a team can do.
Key: How many times does Philly make it above 75 pts? Once if they're lucky.
Result: Pistons 4-0.

Boston vs Indiana
Boston is the number three seed this year, but for some reason or other expect them to choke against a team like Indiana that has a lot of wile and experience to push this series out.
Key: Where's Paul Pierce? If he shows he's the type of dominant player he's been in the past, Boston rolls. But no, Antoine Walker and Rickey Davis tag-team to deny the perennial allstar a chance at the second round. Yes, I know that they're all on the same team; sortof...
Result: Pacers 4-3. Upset #1.

Chicago vs Washington
In ways, this is toughest series to call. Chicago has caught fire after a horrendous start while the Bullets, I like Bullets better than Wizards, have been consistently enigmatic the entire season. Key: The guards. Kirk Heinrik, Ben Gordon and Chris Duhon are young but know what team means, while Larry Hughes and Gilbert Arenas always want to make "Sportscenter" highlights. Take brains over flash anytime.
Result: Bulls 4-2.

Western Conference
Out West, it's more about matchups. All the teams are tough, especially when you consider that the two top teams only split their games with upcoming first round opponents. But as always happens in a series, the cream rises to the top. And it will once again this year.

Phoenix vs Memphis
Phoenix has the guns and the game against a like-minded team. This one to be a little closer than one might think but Nash, Stoudemire, Matrix and company should roll. It's a question of what you do as a defense to stop these guys. We've been talking about it all year and nobody's been able to answer.
Key: Memphis gets 20+ pts from Pao Gasol? Probably not. Another case of a team in search of a star.
Result: Suns win 4-2.

San Antonio vs Denver
This is another matchup of a heavyweight who will be challenged. Denver has prove a lot, but a few slipups toward the end of the season kept them as the #7 seed. Now it's time to pay for that momentary lapse in what has otherwise been an amazing season. This should be a good one and if there's any chance the Spurs go down, it's been in years like this, when Duncan has been gimpy and the team chemistry has suffered as a result.
Key: Duncan's health. He will be knocked around by Nene and company but what better way to get into the playoff mood.
Result: Spurs 4-2.

Seattle vs Sacramento
Two teams that love to run and shoot the three. Unfortunately both the Sonics and Kings have been slowed by injuries. And lately, Seattle has just caved going through a six game loosing streak.
Key: Who's healthy? For Seattle, they're all back. But for Sactown, it's a ?. At least Peja will probably play and the team overall should have enough playoff experience to sneak by.
Result: Kings 4-3. Upset #2.

Dallas vs Houston
Dallas has impressed me thoughout the year as a team that finally sees what it takes to go all the way. But so has Houston. This is a clash of styles and tempos, but home court counts, right? And we all know Dallas has home court. Sadly, this probably won't be the Year of the Yao. But it's starting to at least become a possibility.
Keys: Who can guard McGrady? Who can guard Dirk? What a task for each team.
Result: Mavericks 4-3.