This postseason is set to be as competitive and is as highly anticipated as any that we can remember. Therefore, the Celticsblog Staff thought long and hard on some playoff predictions, not just for the Celtics but for the rest of the league. We'll keep this going throughout the playoffs, ultimately determining which of us actually knows what we're talking about....
The Picks in Summary
There are only three picks for the Western Conference as we split the vote on the Spurs / Suns Series
After the jump you'll find the breakdowns in detail, with commentary from all of us.
Consensus Pick: Celtics in 4
Picking the Celtics [# of games]
Indeed Proceed (IP):  Ummmm....
Edgar:  One loss in Atlanta will make this team even hungrier, focused and dangerous.
Redz:  After a regular season sweep I see no reason we can't expect the Green to make quick work of Atlanta.
Steve W (SW):  If the boys from Beantown come out with the mentality that they have all season and simply play their brand of basketball, they will win this series. Because they are a far better basketball team than the Atlanta Hawks.
Roy Hobbs (RH):  The Celts are 3-0 against Atlanta this year, with an average margin of victory of 14.33 points. Enough said.
wdleehi (wd):  My only question is how much venom will fly if the Celtics lose any games against the Hawks (let alone if they lose 2).
Donoghus (Don):  I just don't see Atlanta winning a game here. They really haven't come close to beating us this season and they have absolutely no depth. Fun young athletic team to watch but they're not a threat in the playoffs.
Green17 (G17):  8pm on Sunday can't come soon enough. This one needs extra predictions - Scal scores in each game. Powe averages a Double-Double. BBD does something hilarious. Sam does his "dance." Posey gives extra big playoff hugs. Celts in 4, winning 'em all by >10.
Po also participated - only this pick as he's too superstitious [read: forgot the deadline] to pick any team other than the Celtics.
Consensus Pick: Magic in 5
Picking the Magic [# of games]
RH:  I don't see how the Raptors are going to slow down both Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu. It's just not going to happen. The Raptors don't have the interior defense to make this one even competitive.
wd:  Toronto has just not been good this second half of the year.
Redz:  I have it stuck in my head that both of these teams are soft. Toronto's softer and will go down hard to Orlando. Howard will have his playoff day in the sun. Just don't call him Superman anymore please.
Don:  Toronto's soft and its going to show here. Howard will kill them down low and I expect Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu will each have nice series.
SW:  I'm not necessarily any more sold on the Raps overall than Dons, wdleehi and Roy seem to be, but with that said, I'm wary of overlooking the factor that could throw a big-time wrench into the proceedings here: Point guard play. If there has been one particular knock on the Magic all year, it has been the lack of consistency and leadership at the point. Ultimately, of the two teams in this series, one has Howard and Turkoglu, and the other doesn't, so I'm sticking with that team. But I'm not as willing to count Toronto all the way out.
G17:  Potentially a compelling series if the Raps can do enough to limit Dwight while staying close to the Magic's shooters. I don't think they can pull it off in the end though.
Edgar:  One win at home its all Toronto can manage in this one. Dwight will make Bosh look bad, but this series will be all about Calderon, and he's not enough.
Picking the Raptors [# of games]
IP:  The Orlando Magic are the better team, but they aren't ready. Jameer Nelson isn't ready and that will make the difference. Sam Mitchell's savvy sense of style prevails along with Calderon's MVP performance for the first round.
Consensus Pick: Pistons in 5
Picking the Pistons [# of games]
Edgar:  Detroit had showed their experience and how a former champion team set the ritm before a playoff series, Philys talent is young and marginal, they're miles away from ex champions level. With Boston's series one of the easiest to predict, No chance for an upset.
wd:  I think the 76ers are scrappy. The play hard. I think the Pistons will overlook the 76er enough to lose one game.
RH:  The only hope I have of seeing a Celtics playoff game in person this year is if the Sixers and Celts somehow meet in the Conference Finals, so I'm tempted to pick the Sixers. They're as hot as anybody right now, and they've actually got a decent team that plays hard. That being said, the talent just isn't there.
Don:  I think this is going to be a hard faught series where Philly is going to be able to steal a couple of games before Detroit gets serious and takes them out. The athleticism of Philly is going to cause some fits for Detroit. I'm almost tempted to go upset here.
G17:  I'd love to see the 76ers knock DEE-troit out in the first round, but the Pistons are too annoying for that to actually happen.
Redz:  'd love to pick with my heart on this one and see the Pistons cancel out early from their ECF date with the Celtics (I'm sure we won't be offended), but I just can't see it. The Sixers have had a great run this season, while the Pistons saw the writing on the wall and put it in cruise control knowing they couldn't catch Boston. Detroit will be able turn the "On" switch up and beat the Sixers in 5.
SW:  In many regards, I see this series being hard fought in a way similar to that of the 2005 World Series -- not a pretty differential of games at the end of the series (the White Sox swept Houston that year) but several games that are contested tooth-and-nail all the way down to the wire. In essence, a 'closer' series than it sounds. The Pistons' playoff experience and all-around superiority to the Sixers will give them the wherewithal to close these games, but Philly will make them close -- even if they don't win many.
IP:  Philly is scrappy but Detroit won't exit in the first round for anything. They could be playing the 97 Bulls and they wouldn't lose in the first round of the playoffs. The same pride that made them lose focus in the Cleveland series when they were frustrated will eliminate any chance of the Sixers upsetting the Pistons.
Edgar:  People...I LOVE how you hate Detroit...but I will still think this will be a sweep
Consensus Pick: Wizards in 6
Picking the Wizards [# of games]
IP : This series is going to be the most intense in the east, mostly because LeBron James took the Cavs without Caron Butler OR Gilbert Arenas in 2007 in 4 games. In 2006 it was close, but Cleveland pulled it out 4-2. Third time is the charm for Washington, because not only will the Wizards' three best players be healthy, they'll be hungrier.
Edgar:  Historically there isn't a King capable of ruling over 10 Wizards, and this King is all alone. I will take 5 Merlins over 1 Arthur every single day of the year.
Don:  A healthy Washington beats a banged up and underachieving Cavs squad. Unless Lebron gets all the calls in the world and the NBA wills the Cavs to victory, Washington takes this series.
G17:  The Cavs are brutal. The Wiz roll, BronBron can only do so much.
SW : Excerpted from a potential conversation between Roy Hobbs and Steve Weinman... RH: "Logic says the Wizards. They're hotter, hungrier, and more talented. The Cavs have Lebron, though. Cavs in 7."
SW: "Logic says the Wizards. They're hotter, hungrier, and more talented. The Cavs have Lebron, though. Wiz in 6." Won't be a shock at all if this shakes out to be as unpredictable a series as we see this round. Which is why you can have the exact same set of rationale...and two completely different conclusions.
Picking the Cavs [# of games]
wd:  Wizard fans can talk about how the Wizards are inside the Celtics head, but Lebron is deeply in the Wizards head the past two years in the playoffs. I can not pick against Lebron and the Cavs unless there is a great defense on the other side (Boston/Detroit)
RH:  Logic says the Wizards. They're hotter, hungrier, and more talented. The Cavs have Lebron, though.
Redz:  Cleveland is playing just above .500 since their trade deadline bonanza shakeup. Ben Wallace looks thoroughly spent. Lebron has a bad back...I still say Lebron has enough strength left in that back to carry the weight of a game Wiz attack. Cavaliers spare the Celtics the dirty job of beating down Washington in the next round and win in 7. Lebron averages 38 a game. Should be a fun series. Here's hoping the Cavs inevitable catastrophic injury (Z going down again?) can wait until round 2.
Consensus Pick: Lakers in 5
Picking the Lakers [# of games]
RH:  How else are we going to paste the Lakers in the Finals, unless they win the earlier rounds?
Don:  Too good to drop this one.
IP:  Sentimentally, I want AI to win, because I've always been an Iverson fan, but I'm already picking the Rockets for sentimental value.
G17:  I'm rooting hard for the upset, but the Nuggets just really aren't that good, and there is no way Kobe goes out in the first round.
SW:  Like 'em or not, this is a fantastic Lakers squad. They are better than the Nugs in every facet of the game.
Edgar:  Hey, at least I hope they get really tired doing it.
Picking the Nuggets...well, kind of [# of games]
wd:  The simple reason for this pick is I have my own set of rules and value. And one of the important rule and value is that I never pick the Lakers. In the end, the only thing I probably get right in this prediction is the number of games I selected.
Redz:  Sentimental Finals matchup be damned. Lakers be damned.
Consensus Pick: Mavs in 6
Picking the Mavs [# of games]
Don:  Dallas seems to finally be getting their act together and I think between Dirk, Kidd, Howard, and a healthy Stackhouse, they will attack New Orleans in multiple ways.
Redz:  Do the Mavs have some redemption in their belly? Can the prodigal MVP Chris Paul step up in his first playoffs? Another whale of a matchup in the West. Mavs steal Game 1 in New Orleans and hang in from there.
IP:  We're going to have 10 years to see how awesome Chris Paul is, but only 2-3 at most from Jason Kidd. Lets see some good ol fashioned redemption for Jason Kidd, Dirk Nowitzki and Mark Cuban.
SW:  Inexperienced playoff team + heating up Dallas team that has to have some sort of psycho-redemption complex going given the events of the last two years + Jason Kidd realizing that it's the postseason and he no longer has to play with Vince Carter or for Lawrence Frank = Loads of upset potential.
Edgar:  See u next year CP3, this is NOT your year.
Picking the Hornets [# of games]
RH:  This is CP3's year, and he's going to impose his will on Jason Kidd and the Mavs. I think Dirk comes up big in this series, but it's just not enough.
wd:  Paul will abuse Kidd and Terry.
G17:  think Kidd is a tremendous liability defensively and no one else on the Mavs is going to stop Chris Paul.
Consensus Pick: None We know this much -- It will definitely be Phoenix or San Antonio, and it will likely take seven. But this motley crew was split down the middle too much to agree on much beyond that.
Picking the Spurs [# of games]
wd:  The most important player the Suns lost in this matchup isn't in Miami. He is in SA.
Redz:  I do believe they'll have to come from behind again in this series, but they'll figure it out.
Don:  I think it might just come down to homecourt.
IP:  Playoff Picking Rule #1: Never, ever bet against Tim Duncan in the first round. He's never lost in the first round. I know the Suns might be the best team in the West on paper, and maybe Shaq was the missing link the Suns needed to get past the Spurs. Thats fine, you bet your money on the favorite Suns, but its fools gold. Tim Duncan isn't dead or retired and until one of those two things happen, him losing in the first round is something I will believe when I see.
Picking the Suns [# of games]
RH:  This is why the Suns made the Shaq trade, right? I have a soft spot for the Big Fella, and Steve Nash is one of my favorite non-Celtics. My head tells me Spurs, but my heart tells me Suns.
G17:  I'm going out on a limb. The Spurs are done. Nash gets his revenge for last year and the Big Cactus plays a huge role.
SW:  The sad part for me is that my feelings mirror IP's just about to a tee. I never fathomed that I'd ever have to come close to pushing myself away from the Duncan Spurs so early in the playoffs. But the question marks surrounding the Spurs' supporting cast are greater than ever this year, and Phoenix has really clicked on just about every cylinder imaginable over the last month and a half.
Edgar:  Shaq is Shaq, and he will show that, especially in this first round ......while he still has gas in the tank. San Antonio's cycle is soon to be over and done.
Consensus Pick: Jazz in 6
Picking the Jazz [# of games]
RH:  To me, the Jazz are the scariest team in the playoffs. The Rockets had their run, and now it's time for them to sink back into mediocrity.
Don:  Hard fought series last year, and that was with Yao playing. I think Houston has overachieved this season, but the road finally ends here. Despite their road woes, I think Utah is able to attack Houston down low, and Boozer and Okur come up big.
Redz:  I can't get it out of my head that the Rockets are paper lions. I know it's not fair to take a sampling based on games vs the Celtics, but who said I needed to be fair? Are their rules here? The Jazz put on a great exhibition of half court basketball against the Celtics, and the Rockets were run ragged by the C's as their marathon winning streak was ingloriously terminated. Paper Lions go up in flames (or is it down in flames?).
SW:  It remains my contention as well that the Jazz are the better basketball team and that they will be able to be one out on the road when they need it. But I don't think they'll cruise, especially against a Rockets team that has shown such an ability to fend off adversity all season.
G17:  I'm not a believer in the Rockets. I think their streak was as much of a fluke as the Jazz's road woes. I can't even see this being close really, which certainly dooms me to be wrong.
Edgar:  There's simply no way that Houston can match against Utah's defense, especially there's no way Houston steals a game against Utah at home against one of the best local teams in the league.
Picking the Rockets [# of games]
wd:  Utah is a great team at home. Terrible on the road. If they were just .500 (or as close as you can get), they would either be tied with the Lakers or one game ahead of them. Since the Rockets are the home team, I will pick them. Just because the deciding game is not in Utah.
IP:  Sentimental pick. I've stated before that the Rockets are my Western Binky, and this is just too perfect a storm for Tracy McGrady.