NBA Playoffs: Eastern Conference Matchups

76ers-Bulls

Philadelphia needs to push the tempo and score easy baskets in transition. They shoot well from mid-range, but their playmakers need to penetrate and get to the free throw line. Defensively, they should trap Derrick Rose early and often since he has missed nearly half the season. Force his teammates to score.

Chicago needs to continue what they’ve done all season long, share the ball and hit the open man. After being sidelined and watching his team carry the load, Derrick Rose needs to trust his teammates and slow down a little bit. They have an advantage inside on both ends of the floor, and a finisher in late games.

Knicks-Heat

The real Carmelo Anthony has returned and Amare Stoudemire got rest to rejuvenate. Mike Woodson’s defensive philosophy has a leader in Tyson Chandler, and Iman Shumpert needs to badger Dwyane Wade. They have the size to win the rebound battle and firepower off the bench to exploit Miami’s 3-point defense.

Chris Bosh needs to make his presence felt by grabbing rebounds and scoring buckets. Mario Chalmers needs to be aggressive with the ball against his older counterparts and Miami has to be on their rotations defensively. Shane Battier and LeBron James will switch off on Anthony, while Mike Miller needs to do a little bit of everything.

Magic-Pacers

Orlando needs to continue their 3-point efficiency, guided by Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu getting into the lane. They also need Glen Davis and Ryan Anderson to get them points inside, while making a collective effort to rebound. They might play some zone to negate Indian’s athleticism, and they have to win the hustle plays.

Indiana should be able to pound the ball inside when they have the ball. They have more playmakers and multiple ways to score, They can switch almost anything defensively, which is why they’re tough to score against with their length. This team capitalizes on forcing turnovers while limiting their own.

Hawks-Celtics

Atlanta needs to hit open shots and use their youth to their advantage by leaning on Josh Smith’s versatility. He is a mismatch nightmare, shouldn’t settle for jump shots, be aggressive and anchor the defense that should force Rajon Rondo to be a scorer by denying the passing lanes. Joe Johnson has to score like an all-star.

Simply put, Kevin Garnett has to score in every series for Boston. Avery Bradley will deny Joe Johnson the ball, and Paul Pierce should have his way in this series. Boston shares the ball and will look to slow the game down with their hounding defense and ball control. Their defense will create easy transition points.