West shaken!

Apr 24, 2007 6:18 AM

We expected a few surprises in the opening round of the NBA playoffs, but not out West.

San Antonio and Dallas each went down on its home court and expected easy series victories over Denver and Golden State now look much tougher.

We thought the most intriguing series will be defending champ Miami against Chicago. The Bulls are up 1-0 and a -140 favorite in the best 4-of-7. They own the home court. It still may be, but the Heat have to start going to the foul line, particularly Dwyane Wade. If he’s trying to avoid contact with that shoulder, the Heat are in trouble.

Originally, Miami was the choice. However, it seems Wade is not the same. The Bulls are hungry and deeper. BULLS in 6.

The other potential East upset is New Jersey (+145) against Toronto. The Nets barely qualified, yet drew the right opponent. The Raptors are playoff novices and down 1-0. Same thing happened in the NHL with Atlanta against the experienced NY Rangers. It was 4 and done for the rookie Thrashers.

Kidd, Carter, Jefferson have been through the wars. Chris Bosh is the man in Toronto, but being asked to lead where no Raptor has gone before. The X-factor is Mo Pete. Sometimes the Toronto small forward is invisible, like Game 1. Sometimes he’s deadly. We hear Peterson wants ”˜no mo’ of Canada. That’s not good. NETS in 6.

Denver has a real shot now at the Spurs, with two straight wins down the stretch. The Nuggets match up well with San Antonio. If Manu Ginobili doesn’t step his game up, Denver can win. NUGGETS in 6.

As for the Mavs, they had better realize Golden State can match them score for score. This is going to be a war. MAVS in 7.

The other series look easy. The Cavs, Rockets, Suns and Pistons should advance in 5 or less. The Miami-Chicago winner could reach the NBA Finals.