Feb. 23, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) drives to the basket past New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) during the second half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

NBA Playoff Matchups

Apr 15, 2012; New York, NY, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) causes New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) to loose the ball during the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden. Miami won 93-85. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE


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. Dwyane Wade has to take advantage of the rookie Shumpert.

Apr 28, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose (1) scores during the first quarter in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs against the Philadelphia 76ers\ at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE


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.

March 11, 2012; Orlando, FL, USA; Indiana Pacers small forward Danny Granger (33) is defended by Orlando Magic point guard Jameer Nelson (14) and small forward Quentin Richardson (5) during the first quarter of a game at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE


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.


Apr 11, 2012; Boston, MA USA; Boston Celtics power forward Kevin Garnett (5, right) looks for an opening against Atlanta Hawks power forward Josh Smith (5) in the second half at the TD Banknorth Garden. The Celtics defeated the Atlanta Hawks 88-86 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-US PRESSWIRE


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.

February 20, 2012; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker (9) is guarded by Utah Jazz point guard Devin Harris (5) during the first quarter at Energy Solutions Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE


Utah has a front line that can give San Antonio trouble. The guards have to be aggressive defensively, and Al Jefferson has to protect the paint. They have length and are a physical team that knows their roles. Devin Harris needs to take his scoring to another level while having to guard Tony Parker, easier said than done.

San Antonio could use some Tim Duncan points from the block. They can score along the perimeter and dissect the lane, and will need to get to the charity stripe. Tony Parker makes this team go and they need him to score. They are active and get a lot of steals, and will wear you down with the half court game offensively.

May 19, 2011; Dallas, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) in action in the third quarter of game two against Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) for the Western Conference Finals of the 2011 NBA playoffs at American Airlines Center. The Thunder beat the Mavs 106-100. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE


The reigning champions need vintage Dirk Nowitzki from here on out. Delonte West and Jason Terry provide offensive spark and have to score consistently. Vince Carter and Jason Kidd must play well on both ends and Shawn Marion should deny Kevin Durant the ball. Expect zone defense to force everyone but Durant to shoot.

Kevin Durant will get his, but the supporting cast has to score when he distributes the rock because he will face double teams. Russell Westbrook has to play like he has all season long, hitting his outside shots and getting to the foul line. OKC should speed the game up because it’s difficult to win playoff series with 1 on 1 offense.

Apr 3, 2011; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) reacts in the first half as Denver Nuggets guard Ty Lawson (3) looks on at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE


Denver has a team full of two-way players. Ty Lawson has to be the floor general and take advantage of the Lakers point guards, and that includes pressuring them defensively. This team scores from all over and will need to make a collective effort on the glass. Al Harrington and Danilo Gallinari have to bring their A-games.

The Lake Show needs the good Andrew Bynum to win a championship. Between him and Pau Gasol they are superior on the interior. Kobe Bryant is hardly containable, so the supporting cast only has to play marginal. Without Metta World Peace, Ramon Sessions might need to score more, and perhaps Troy Murphy.

Mar 24, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) goes up for a shot defended by Memphis Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay (22) during the first quarter at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-US PRESSWIRE


Lob City needs to do just that, play their fast pace. Chris Paul is the floor general, but he will have to score in this series. Randy Foye and Moe Williams need to play well defensively to stay on the floor for their offense. Blake Griffin should live at the free throw line, but you do that by going inside not settling on the perimeter.

Memphis has a talented front line and has the advantage inside because Marc Gasol and Zack Randolph are two-way players. They should go at DeAndre Jordan because the Clippers struggle when he’s in foul trouble. O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay should attack and run the lanes, and Mike Conley will have open looks.

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