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NBA Playoff Preview: Are Kobe and LeBron on a Collision Course?

Posted on April 16, 2010 by Dean Hybl
Los Angeles Lakers vs Cleveland Caviliers in Los Angeles

Will this be the year when LeBron James and Kobe Bryant meet in the NBA Finals?

After a season in which several new faces and teams made some noise, most still anticipate the NBA Playoffs to be a showcase for the top stars in the league.

With LeBron James now only weeks away from decision day regarding his future, the Cleveland Cavaliers will enter the 2010 playoffs as the favorites in the Eastern Conference. However, there are a number of tough challengers ready to follow the lead of the Orlando magic from a year ago and crash the playoff party.

Kobe Bryant and the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers are the favorites in the Western Conference, but with every team in the Western Playoffs having at least 50 victories, it could be a tough road back to the championship for the Lakers.

Eastern Conference:

With a 61-21 record, the Cavaliers enter the playoff with the best record in the NBA. The key for the Cavs will not necessarily be the play of superstar LeBron James, but whether his supporting cast can play at a high level throughout the playoffs. Center Shaquille O’Neal was brought to Cleveland to help James win a title, but he played in only 53 games and his availability for the playoffs is in question.

The defending conference champion Orlando magic went 59-23 and appear to be as strong, if not stronger, than a year ago. They won’t surprise anyone this time around, but with Dwight Howard, Vince Carter and a quality supporting cast, the Magic are a formidable opponent.

Who Will Win the NBA Title?

  • Cleveland Cavaliers (37%, 15 Votes)
  • Los Angeles Lakers (37%, 15 Votes)
  • Boston Celtics (12%, 5 Votes)
  • Atlanta Hawks (5%, 2 Votes)
  • Orlando Magic (5%, 2 Votes)
  • Dallas Mavericks (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Utah Jazz (2%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 41

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The Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics are the only other teams in the conference seemingly capable of reaching the finals. The Hawks went 53-29 and have a lot of quality talent. However, they appear to be just a little below the Cavs and Magic and will likely fall to Orlando in the conference semifinals.

The Celtics still have lots of talent, but age is catching up to the team and their 50-32 record illustrates a significant decline after consecutive 60+ victory seasons.

Conference Final Prediction: Cavaliers over Magic in six games.

Western Conference:

Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks could crash the playoff party.

Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks could crash the playoff party.

The Lakers will be looking for their third straight conference championship. With a 57-25 record they still have the best record in the conference, but they lost seven of their final 11 games, so the question is whether they were just resting for the playoffs or if they are a team in decline.

Los Angeles may have received a break when the Oklahoma City Thunder fell to the eighth spot in the conference. Kevin Durant is a superstar, but OKC is not a playoff tested team and the Lakers should be able to withstand their talent to move on.

The remainder of the conference is a crap shoot as all six teams have a legitimate chance to reach the conference finals.

The Nuggets and Jazz facing off in the opening round is a really tough matchup for both teams. The winner could give LA trouble, but if that series is as hard fought as expected, the Lakers could be facing a worn down team.

The Suns may have gotten the worst first round matchup when they ended up with the Spurs. San Antonio appears to be healthy and despite being the sixth seed could very easily upset the Suns.

Dallas finished second in the conference with a 55-27 record and should defeat Portland in the opening round. They then will also have a tough battle against the survivor of the Jazz-Nuggets series.

Conference Final Prediction: Dallas over Los Angeles in six games.

NBA Finals Prediction: It would be very easy to pick the Cavaliers and Lakers to face off in the finals. Like Magic vs. Bird or Chamberlain vs. Russell, LeBron vs. Kobe is the matchup most folks crave for the NBA Finals.

However, LA has struggled enough in recent weeks and has enough injuries that it seems possible that they could fall before the finals.

I believe that LeBron James and the Cavaliers have the best team in the league and will play with a sense of urgency.

For that reason, I predict that the Cleveland Cavaliers will defeat the Dallas Mavericks in seven games.

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