Commentary

NBA playoffs: Predictions and dreams

Updated: April 15, 2011, 1:57 PM ET
By Rick Reilly | ESPN.com

Derrick RoseAlbert Pena/Icon SMIDerrick Rose, the second-year Chicago Bulls guard, has his eyes set on an NBA Championship.

These are happy days.

For one thing, I get to type the phrase "Barry Bonds, convicted felon" the rest of my life.

For two, I'm quite sure I'll never need to spell the name Charl Schwartzel again.

For three, I can chart exactly how the NBA playoffs are going to go down. I'm about to make your bookie drink Natty Lights until Christmas. You're welcome.

FIRST ROUND

New Orleans Hornets vs. Los Angeles Lakers -- Forget it. Without David West, even Chris Paul on a "Limitless" pill can't win two games in this series. Lakers in 5, and Paul calls Student Movers the next day.

Did I dream that? In a gesture of reconciliation toward national gay and lesbian rights groups, Kobe wears Nike Rainbow Dunks.

Denver Nuggets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder -- The Thunder, everybody's cool new kid in class, is about to get a wedgie in front of the whole playground. Since the Nuggets traded Melo on Feb. 21, they've been the third-winningest team in the league (.720). They have double-kick-start Tar Heel point guards who can drive, score or feed to six other scorers. Who you gonna guard on the last shot? Nuggets in 7, proving George Karl should've been Coach of the Year.

Did I dream that? So many points are scored at Oklahoma City Arena in Game 2, everybody gets eight tacos.

Did I dream that? Manu Ginobili flops so bad in Game 5 he gets a yellow card.

Memphis Grizzlies vs. San Antonio Spurs -- Never pick a team with Zach Randolph on it. He has an extra punk chromosome. What's remarkable is that Memphis coach Lionel Hollins looked like a guy TRYING to lose so he could play the Spurs in the first round. Hollins is like Phil Mickelson with two drivers. He thinks too much. Spurs in 6.

Did I dream that? Manu Ginobili flops so bad in Game 5 he gets a yellow card.

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Dallas Mavericks -- What do Oasis, Winona Ryder and the Mavericks have in common? They're massive underachievers. When Dallas loses this one, it'll be four first-round punch-outs in the last five playoffs. Portland in 7, and let's see if anybody in Dallas has the nerve to call out Mark Cuban, cyberbully.

Did I dream that? In attempting to break an attendance record, Cuban gets arrested by the Dallas Fire Department for using Jerry Jones' temporary Super Bowl seats.

Indiana Pacers vs. Chicago Bulls -- Indiana relies on Roy Hibbert. Chicago relies on Derrick Rose. Roy Hibbert leaves his feet and you can almost get a magazine under his shoes. Derrick Rose leaves his feet, makes a ham-and-cheese omelette, and still gets the hoop. Derrick Rose is the most thrilling player in the NBA and this is a very delicious era in the NBA. Chicago in 4.

Did I dream that? An angry Michael Jordan announces his comeback at halftime of Game 2, spurred by Rose not saying hello to him during warm-ups.

Philadelphia 76ers vs. Miami Heat -- The Heat are fueled by emotion more than any other team in the league. The world will be watching them in this series. Every time the Heat have been written off, they've gathered themselves. They've won eight of their last 10 and are rolling -- for now. Miami in 5, and then it gets nasty.

Did I dream that? At the Philadelphia Four Seasons, Gloria James' car is retrieved in record time.

Atlanta Hawks vs. Orlando Magic -- Two odd teams. Orlando shoots jumpers even though it has Dwight Howard. Atlanta shoots jumpers even though it has Josh Smith. Atlanta is the quittingest team in the league. Orlando in 6.

Did I dream that? At halftime of Game 4, Howard balances 18 Taipei gymnasts on his shoulders.

New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics -- Boston is the John McCain of these playoffs. Great story, good ideas, too old. If New York had just one more big, it could win this, but it insisted on Chauncey Billups instead. Plus, Rajon Rondo is a god. Boston in 6, Southies throw wicked rager.

Did I dream that? Knicks guard Landry Fields has five steals in the game, two of them from Carmelo Anthony.

CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS

Denver vs. San Antonio -- The Spurs were a great dynasty, but they are collapsing from within. Their center cannot hold. Tim Duncan will be 35 by this series and wearing down, bone on bone, spitting sawdust, tilting as he walks. The New Nuggets, growing stronger with every week they're together, take the No. 1 offense in the NBA and make it better. Denver's Psychology Today centerfold J.R. Smith can either be a disaster or a miracle in this series, but here he parts the seas. Denver in 7, David Stern pukes.

Did I dream that? Carmelo's request to be traded back is denied.

Portland vs. Los Angeles -- Yes, Portland is long, but have you seen the Lakers? It's like trying to shoot in the Muir Woods. Their two 7-footers make Brandon Roy weep for Greg Oden. Look out -- the Lakers are getting better as the playoffs get deeper, as usual. Lakers in 5.

Did I dream that? Lakers forward Lamar Odom takes time during Game 2 to quickly smooch fiancée reality-star Khloe Kardashian, only to realize it's actually Blazers forward Luke Babbitt.

Orlando vs. Chicago -- Chicago was 10 games better than the Magic in the regular season. Granted, this isn't the regular season, which is the point. Rose gets more hell-bent in the playoffs. And do you really want to bet on a team that reserves a significant role for Gilbert Arenas? Chicago in 6.

Did I dream that? In Game 3, Rose scores 42 points, 11 of them after being Tasered by Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy.

Boston vs. Miami -- The showcase series of the playoffs. So many stars, some are in the third row. Rondo locks up Dwyane Wade, but LeBron, making up for the hot mess he put on in the 2010 playoffs, averages 38 and 8 and three new dance moves a night. Boston might've won this if it'd known Shaq was going to be the first superstar to retire and still show up for games. Miami in 7.

Did I dream that? Kevin Garnett bangs his forehead on the stanchion afterward.

CONFERENCE FINALS

Denver vs. Los Angeles -- This one is as one-sided as The Falkland Islands War. The Nuggets are toast from two seven-game series and the Lakers still haven't been pushed to a sixth game. Lakers in 5.

Did I dream that? Phil Jackson, on the brink of retiring, loses his cool afterward, barking, "Do you realize I'm going for my fourth three-peat? That means I'll have had four times as many three-peats as Coach of the Year Awards! Nice going, writers. You morons could screw up a Cuban election."

Miami vs. Chicago -- With home-court advantage, the Bulls weather the wave after wave of attacks on Rose. Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer dominate the Heat's weakness in the paint. Pat Riley is so upset he actually gets a gray hair. Bulls in 7. Bye, bye Superfriends.

Did I dream that? To mock LeBron James' continued failures with buzzer-beaters, thousands of Cleveland fans attend Game 5 and hold up a giant "The Frozen One" banner.

FINALS

Los Angeles vs. Chicago -- The Lakers fall apart like a Jenga tower. Andrew Bynum's legs give out. Kobe's shoulder gives out. Pau Gasol's knee gives out. Rose is so quick and full of energy against the Lakers, he looks like a squirrel trapped inside an assisted living home. Bulls in 6, Rose in full bloom.

Don't need to dream that.


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Rick Reilly is the 11-time National Sportswriter of the Year. He contributes essays and commentary to "SportsCenter" and ESPN/ABC golf and tennis coverage. He's also the host of "Homecoming," ESPN's unique, one-hour interview show set in the hometowns of legendary athletes. For more Rick, check out the archive.


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Columnist, ESPN.com