Apr 30, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade (3) drives to the basket past New York Knicks guard Landry Fields (2) during the second half of game two in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

2012 NBA Playoff Predictions: Conference Semifinals

This is part two of a four part series on the 2012 NBA Playoffs

Apr 29, 2012; Memphis, TN, USA; Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul (3) dribbles the ball up the court as Memphis Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph (50) chases behind him during the second half of game one in the Western Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at FedEx Forum. The Clippers won 99-98. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-US PRESSWIRE

With the Utah Jazz, Philadelphia 76ers, Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks, Denver Nuggets, Orlando Magic, Atlanta Hawks and Memphis Grizzlies all picked to lose in my bracket, that leaves the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers left in the Western Conference and the Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics left in the Eastern Conference. Here’s where the match ups start getting a lot more intriguing, even though those first round goes were great enough.

Western Semifinals:

(1) San Antonio Spurs vs. Los Angeles Clippers (5)

Ah, a battle for the ages. Literally. The Spurs have an average age of 27.8 years, while the Clippers boast an average age of 27.3. Yet the Spurs are so much more experienced, especially in the playoffs. The Clippers have NEVER won a playoff series in their 42-season existence. Their most recent playoff birth was during the 2005-06 season. None of those players are on the roster from that season, but an offseason acquisition of Chris Paul suddenly put the Clippers over the top.

If it wasn’t for an early-season exit for guard Chauncey Billups the Clippers may have been in a better situation, but I believe the Clippers will steal this series in the final game against the postseason-experienced Spurs. Yep, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili will be sent home early once again.

Apr 28, 2012; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) drives to the basket against Dallas Mavericks small forward Shawn Marion (0) during the first half in game one of the Western Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Richard Rowe-US PRESSWIRE

5. Clippers over 1. Spurs, 4-3

(2) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (3) Los Angeles Lakers

How perfect is this. If the Lakers win their series in six games or more controversial Lakers forward Metta World Peace will be back in time for this series with the Thunder. What a story that’s going to be. The players will try to play it down, but this series is going to be emotion-filled, especially from the Thunder side of things.

Even though the passion for a sixth ring for Lakers guard Kobe Bryant burns deeper than a phoenix’s feathers, Kevin Durant has what it takes to cool down Bryant and the Lakers. The Thunder are the most-poised championship team since the “Big Three” Boston Celtics. Look for a lot of Hollywood magic in this series, but a Thunder dominance nonetheless.

2. Thunder beat 3. Lakers, 4-1

Eastern Semifinals:

(1) Chicago Bulls vs. (4) Boston Celtics

It’s a known fact by now that Bulls star player Derrick Rose is out for the rest of the season (and maybe the beginning of next season). I’m still sticking

Apr 28, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls injured point guard Derrick Rose (1) is helped off the court by medical staff during the fourth quarter in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs against the Philadelphia 76ers at the United Center. The Bulls won 103-91. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE

with the picks I made before finding out about the adidas front-man’s ACL injury. However, I still wouldn’t change my mind even with Mr. Rose out. The Bulls are the most complete team in the Eastern Conference and they have had answers to Rose’s absence during the regular season.

The Bulls will not have to put their main worries on Rose’s injury until the conference round, but with a healthy Richard Hamilton at shooting guard and C.J. Watson filling in for Rose off the bench the Bulls have plenty of reassurance in their guard game. Oh yeah, the Celtics are too old and not focused enough for another championship run.

1. Bulls beat 4. Celtics, 4-2

(2) Miami Heat vs. (3) Indiana Pacers

With the emergence of injuries to star players, the path has

never been paved easier for LeBron James. The Heat have almost dominated the Pacers this year, winning three out of four games while outscoring the Pacers by a total of 37 points. Two double-digit blowouts were part of those four games too, and the Pacers look tanked right now.

Indiana’s stars are struggling, they aren’t donning the underdog card anymore and they just don’t match up well against high-powered offenses such as the Heat. The Pacers like to play, and usually win, close and tough games that usually go down to the wire. If the Pacers can put the Heat in a hole early, which Miami can almost surely climb out of, then the series will be close. I don’t see that happening.

2. Heat beat 3. Pacers, 4-1

Right Down Euclid will have the final two installments of the 2012 NBA Playoff predictions by the week’s end. In the meantime, check out the finalized 2012 playoff bracket – http://bit.ly/KmEVFd

Tags: Boston Celtics Chicago Bulls Chris Paul Derrick Rose Dwyane Wade Indiana Pacers Kevin Durant Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Clippers Los Angeles Lakers Miami Heat Oklahoma City Thunder San Antonio Spurs Tony Parker

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