Friday, April 27, 2012

NBA Playoffs: First round preview and predictions

A quick rundown of the first round NBA playoff matchups, with predictions for each series:

Eastern Conference

Chicago Bulls v. Philadelphia 76ers
The Bulls are certainly a deep team and their bench is as good as some teams' starting fives. Chicago grabbed the number one seed in the East with Derrick Rose nursing injuries for most of the year. Philly should grab a game at home, but the Bulls will easily take this series.
Bulls win series, 4-1

Miami Heat v. New York Knicks
The Knicks are perhaps the hottest team in the NBA and have a better bench than Miami. The Heat, however, have owned the Knicks since LeBron and Bosh took their talents to South Beach. If the Knicks can play the great defense they've shown since Mike Woodson took over, they'll have a shot, albeit a long one.
Heat win series, 4-2

Indiana Pacers v. Orlando Magic
The Pacers, one of the most underrated and under-appreciated teams in the league, would have been favorites even if Orlando had a healthy Dwight Howard. Take "Superman" out of the mix and it's an easy series for the Magic.
Pacers win series, 4-0

Boston Celtics v. Atlanta Hawks
The 4 v. 5 matchup has the potential to be the best series of the opening round. While early in the year many figured the Celtics were too old, they've come surging back, showing us the guts and gusto that won Boston an NBA Title just a few years ago. Ray Allen's injury will be a factor but I'd expect the Celtics to take the series either way.
Celtics win series, 4-3

Western Conference

San Antonio Spurs v. Utah Jazz
The aging Spurs just keep winning and getting better. Unlike last year's team, this year's version of the Spurs is a serious threat to go deep in the playoffs. They shouldn't have too much trouble with the Jazz, although Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap could create some issues inside for San Antonio.
Spurs win series, 4-2

Oklahoma City Thunder v. Dallas Mavericks
The defending champs open the first round with a tough matchup against the OKC Thunder, a young team ready to win now. These two teams always seem to play each other close but OKC will be too much for the older Mavs.
Thunder win series, 4-2

Los Angeles Lakers v. Denver Nuggets
The loss of Metta World Peace will hurt the Lakers, who are already a thin team depth-wise. Los Angeles is playing at a very high level, with Kobe Bryant rested, and should be able to handle a stiff challenge from Denver.
Lakers win series, 4-3

Memphis Grizzlies v. Los Angeles Clippers
This series provides some very intriguing matchups. The Grizzlies have the big men to battle with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Tony Allen is a defensive specialist who will look to shut down the Clippers' wings. But Chris Paul might be the deciding factor. Finally getting his chance to shine on a bigger stage, he'll lead the Clippers to a rare first round playoff victory.
Clippers win series, 4-3

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