Cavaliers predicted in four or fewer over Bulls

Apr 16 2010 - 5:41pm

EASTERN CONFERENCE:

1. CLEVELAND vs. 8. CHICAGO

Season series: 2-2.

Key stat: Toronto's 8-18 finish that detoured the Bulls from the lottery.

As Cinderellas, the Bulls' clock looks as if it's at 11:59, finishing 10-14 as hot-tempered former GM John Paxson, now a VP who -- thankfully -- doesn't talk to the media, angrily confronted Dead Coach Walking Vinny Del Negro.

Last spring the Bulls took Boston seven games, then let Ben Gordon, who'd have been fabulous with happening Derrick Rose, leave.

Who, us, management issues?

Prediction: Cleveland in four or fewer.

Saturday at Cleveland 3 p.m. ET

Monday at Cleveland 8 p.m. ET

Tuesday at Chicago 7 p.m. ET

April 25 at Chicago 3:30 p.m. ET

April 27 at Cleveland TBD-x

April 29 at Chicago TBD-x

May 1 at Cleveland TBD-x

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2. ORLANDO vs. 7. CHARLOTTE

Season series: Magic, 3-1.

Key stats: Orlando's 33-8 finish makes it the NBA's hottest team.

The Magic's unmatched inside-outside game features Dwight Howard and the shooters who made 841 three-pointers -- 98 more than No. 2 New York.

With Howard No. 1 in rebounds and blocks, again, they held opponents to an NBA-low 43.8 percent shooting.

It makes up for all their wiggy stuff like Vince Carter averaging 8.8 points in January and Matt Barnes averaging an incident a week in March.

Prediction: Orlando in six.

Sunday at Orlando 5:30 p.m. ET

Wednesday at Orlando 7 p.m. ET

April 24 at Charlotte 2 p.m. ET

April 26 at Charlotte TBD

April 28 at Orlando TBD-x

April 30 at Charlotte TBD-x

May 2 at Orlando TBD-x

NBA PLAYOFFS: Boston vs. Miami

Celtics look better on paper, but everyone's aware of their struggles.

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3. ATLANTA vs. 6 MILWAUKEE

Season series: Hawks, 2-1.

Key stat: The Bucks finished 27-11 to the Hawks' 19-13 but lost star center/comeback player of year front-runner Andrew Bogut.

The Hawks still aren't ready for prime time, leveling off again after their 33-17 start with their one-dimensional "Iso-Joe" offense, isolating Joe Johnson.

With Bogut, it wouldn't have been a shocker if the no-name Bucks (Carlos Delfino? Luc Richard Mbah a Moute?) had beaten the Hawks.

Prediction: Without Bogut, the Bucks finished 4-2 but get serious. Atlanta in five.

Saturday Atlanta 5:30 p.m. ET

Tuesday at Atlanta 7 p.m. ET

April 24 at Milwaukee 7 p.m. ET

April 26 at Milwaukee TBD

April 28 at Atlanta TBD-x

April 30 at Milwaukee TBD-x

May 2 at Atlanta TBD-x

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4. BOSTON vs. 5. MIAMI

Season series: Celtics, 3-0

Key stat: Miami finished 18-4, Boston 27-27.

Personnel-wise, the bigger, deeper Celtics are a mismatch for the Heat on paper but that's meaningless as Kendrick Perkins noted recently, adding, "Look at us."

In denial, Boston management and fans criticized their overachieving players' effort level. Coach Doc Rivers is now considering resigning, a sign he knows this is all they have left.

Now everyone's anxious to see just how much that is, starting with them.

Prediction: Rivers lives to coach a few more days. Boston in six.

Saturday at Boston 8 p.m. ET

Tuesday at Boston 8 p.m. ET

April 23 at Miami 7 p.m. ET

April 25 at Miami 1 p.m. ET

April 27 Miami at Boston TBD-x

April 29 Boston at Miami TBD-x

May 1 Miami at Boston TBD-x

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x-If necessary

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