In the NBA Playoffs two things have historically dictated which team will win a series. The team with the biggest star and the team with the playoff experience normally advances. The Memphis Grizzlies beating the OKC Thunder will be an exception to that rule but in the case of the Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls there's little doubt. Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose are simply too good and their opponents, the Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks are lacking in playoff success.
The Bulls vs. Hawks series kicks off with Game 1 at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. on TNT. Carlos Boozer has not played well in the playoffs so far and didn't exactly tear it up in the regular season either. There's no question that the Hawks biggest advantage in this series is Al Horford against Boozer. But the Bulls team defense will do a much (MUCH) better job than the Magic against Jamal Crawford and Joe Johnson and without Kirk Hienrich, the Hawks have no shot at containing Derrick Rose.
Prediction: Bulls win the series 4-2
Kobe Bryant vs. Dirk Nowitzki is finally a reality after years of these two missing each other in the postseason. Unfortunately for the Mavericks, Dirk can't hide or rest on defense against Pau Gasol and Shawn Marion isn't nearly as able to slow Kobe as he once was. The speedy Dallas guards -- Jason Terry and J.J. Barea -- will give the Lakers some problems but unlike the dysfunctional Portland offense, Phil Jackson will abuse those small guards in the post. Game 1 of this series tips at 10:30 p.m. ET / 7:30 p.m. PT on TNT.
Prediction: Lakers over Mavs 4-2