1. Cleveland Cavaliers vs 8. Detroit Pistons
This was, essentially, something to occupy the Cavs in preparation for the second round. Now, the Cavaliers aren't the team of destiny, but the aged Pistons have clearly fallen off the map this year. The Cavs didn't allow the Pistons to crack 85 points scored in a single game in their 4 game sweep. Every victory was won by double digits, solidifying LeBron James' MVP season.
Respect to the Pistons backcourt players[Stuckey, Hamilton, Bynum] for not giving up on their season and scoring for their team in the hopes of a victory, but clearly, Detriot's time has passed and they were swept with ease.
4. Atlanta Hawks vs 5. Miami Heat
Two teams that finished off the season with completely different stories. The Hawks started off hot but coasted at the 4th seed for most of the season, and the Heat shot up into 5th place with the acquisition of Jermaine O'Neal.
This series wasn't as much of a dogfight as most of the 6 and 7 game series were this year, but it was a back and forth affair where they would both come out and get a double digit victory. But, the Hawks came out on fire in game 7 and put Dwyane Wade's Heat out of comission.
3. Orlando Magic vs 6. Philadelphia 76'ers
I thought this series was underrated. This series was a dogfight until game 6, where I think that the Sixers thought they had an easy win, but weren't expecting the Magic to come out in full force. They had a excellent chance to force a game 7, but most[including me] were already looking forward to a game 7 in orlando with all the marbles on the line for the Magic.
Philly is also a young team with a bunch of potential that could propel them to elite status within a couple of years, especially with a healthy Elton Brand next year, they can possibly grab homecourt in the first round, with the Celtics not getting any younger.
2. Boston Celtics vs 7. Chicago Bulls
One of the greatest first round series of all time. Mad respect to the Bulls for not backing down against the champs and giving them a serious run for their money until the final couple of minutes of the game 7. Ben Gordon has really proven himself as a big time performer and scorer, and I think everyone will agree when I say that the Bulls have loads of hidden potential. Some might say that if the Celtics had KG that it would have been a completely different series, but the Celtics are still an elite team without him, and it should not take away from the valiant effort that the Bulls put up.
Neither team had a glaring edge in this series, and this series is what playoff basketball is all about, neither team willing to give an inch, and the Celtics managed to prevail with their smart play and timely scoring/defense. Should be up there with the classics.
1. Los Angeles Lakers vs 8. Utah Jazz
Clearly not as easy of a matchup as Cavs-Pistons, but the Lakers still won this in 5, even though many experts thought this would go 6. The Lakers had a tough matchup, playing against a team that had a top 4 seed at a point in the season, and the Jazz are probably one of the top teams in the league at home, shown when they won their single game at home in Salt Lake City.
The Jazz proved to not be a cakewalk, and they exposed some of the Lakers' weakness, like holding leads and consitent defense, but their relentless hard play as a team helped keep the Lakers in gear as they moved to the second round.
Nice to see Andrew back, even though he looked rusty, getting into foul trouble and such, but the Lakers still have a great amount of confidence in their Baby Beast.
4. Portland Trailblazers vs 5. Houston Rockets
Mild upset. This was a good matchup, but I thought that the Blazers would prove to be just too talented for the Rockets to handle. Boy, was I wrong. Yao and Artest stepped up big time in a defensive series, and the Rockets managed to prevail in 6.
The Blazers may be a tad disappointed, but they are another young team who will be in the playoffs for many years to come, and they will most likely be in the second round next year.
3. San Antonio Spurs vs 6. Dallas Mavericks
I'm not used to this. The Spurs getting eliminated in the first round? In only 5 games? Much respect to the Mavs for being able to beat a dynasty in the Spurs, even without Manu Ginobili. With Josh Howard back in full force and averaging 18.8 PPG, the scoring trio of Dirk, Josh, and Terry, combined with their leadership at Point Guard, the Mavs can pull off an upset and make it to the WCF.
However, for the Spurs, like the Pistons, their time has passed. Tim Duncan is in the twilight of his career, Manu isn't getting any younger, and he's still injury prone, so even with Tony Parker in his prime, unless the Spurs get younger and more athletic, they're doomed until they get bad enough to pick up lottery picks.
2. Denver Nuggets vs 7. New Orleans Hornets
I'm honestly surprised that the Hornets won a game, and I'm more surprised at the play of the Nuggets. They are not playing around. The Hornets high in points in a game was 95, and that was their single win in game 3 at home. The next game, avenging their loss, the Nuggets came out and beat the Hornets 121-63, telling the world that they mean business and are ready for a championship.
On the Hornets side, they really need to get another piece for CP3, even though David West, an all-star should be enough, he doesn't contribute enough on defense, and apparently refuses to play center for his team. I look for them to be very active in the off-season, because they don't want a disgruntled Chris Paul causing a ruckus for a trade after getting embarassed in this series.