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Eastern Conference: Second Round Locks?

If you’re an NBA fan, you’ve probably been inundated the entire season with sports news networks proclaiming that this is LeBron James’ year to win his – and his Cleveland Cavaliers’ – first title. In reality, there are very few willing to bet against LeBron. His Cavs are the proverbial 21 on the blackjack table that is the Eastern Conference.

After defeating a punch-drunk and ready-to-vacation Detroit Pistons team handily in the first two games of the playoffs, the Cavs, who hold the leagues best record, look to be in prime position to sweep the downtrodden once-glorious team from the Motor City and meet up with either the Atlanta Hawks or the Miami Heat in the second round.

Miami had an up and down season, only showing flash when Olympic gold medalist and perennial MVP contender Dwayne Wade played up to his full potential. And giving up home court advantage to the hungry Hawks, a betting man would fix his Round Two bracket with the Cavaliers and the Hawks.

The Celtics, thanks to a Ray Allen’s (aka Jesus!) game winner, have tied the baby Bulls of Chicago 1-1 as they head into the house that Jordan built to play game three. Without Garnett, the ballers from Boston have to rely on previously unproven pieces of the puzzle to make things fit, such as stellar play from the likes of Rondo and Leon “don’t call me ‘POW’” Powe. However, it’s widely accepted that you never bet against a champion, so with that, look for the Celtics to break the steely, young hearts of the Bulls and walk into the second round against either Orlando or Philly.

The Magic, who have the difficult task of playing the Philadelphia 76ers, don’t seem prepared to take one on the chin for the good of their advancement. They gave a lackluster performance at home in game one, and unless they squeak by with a game two victory, you can pencil in Philly for Round Two. But not so fast, betters! Are you willing to go against Dwight “the new Superman” Howard? I didn’t think so. Look forward to a Round Two matchup between the Celtics and Magic.

Between the two matchups here, the Cavaliers seem to be in perfect position to embarrass the Hawks. Although the Hawks proved last year that they’re capable of playing against talent, they’re no match for the Cavs with home court advantage. Look for the Cleveland team to annihilate the Hawks in a max of six games.

The poor, battle-worn, injured Celtics of Boston are the polar opposite of the Cavs this year – the team they beat in the Eastern Conference Finals last year to face off against the LA Lakers for the NBA Championship. Without Kevin Garnett, the Celts aren’t standing a Kilt’s chance in winter against Dwight Howard and the Magic. Even though the Celtics will have the home floor, Big Baby Davis and Paul “The Truth” Pierce can’t win four games. The Magic should win in a seventh game thriller – but I’d go easy on the spreads here. These teams, even without Garnett, are evenly matched points-wise.

The NBA isn’t a craps shoot this year; some teams are simply better than others. The Eastern Conference Finals should be a great matchup – going the full seven – with the Cavs edging out the Magic at home to face the winner in the Western Conference.

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