1. Chicago Bulls vs 8. Philadelphia 76ers: This series will not be a sweep as you might think with the defending MVP Derrick Rose still being hampered by injuries. With that said even if Rose is ineffective the Bulls have enough around him to be done with the Sixers in 5 games.
2. Miami Heat vs 7. New York Knicks: This series will be very interesting for a few reasons. The first is that the Heat will be under the most pressure of any team in the history of the NBA to see if they can make it back and win the Finals. Dwayne Wade has not been healthy the past month and the Heat want him to be their closer. I want to pick the Knicks but there is just too much talent for Miami and expect them to come out guns-a-blazing. The Knicks should push this to 6 games but I am sensing a sweep.
3. Indiana Pacers vs 6. Orlando Magic: This is another lopsided matchup in the Eastern Conference, however unlike in years past the clear-cut favorite is the Pacers. Orlando will not laydown and will put up a fight but without Dwight Howard there is little they can do. Pacers should win in 5.
4. Boston Celtics vs 5. Atlanta Hawks: You may remember that this is a rematch of 2007-2008 season when the Celtics won in 7 games and went on to win the NBA Championship. With Al Horford missing the season and the way the Celtics are playing this would seem like it would be a quick series. In the “Big 3” era the Celtics have had very few short series, therefore I expect them to end this one in 6.
1. San Antonio Spurs vs 8. Utah Jazz: The Spurs are just the better team in this matchup. They will be motivated not to repeat what happened to them last year in the first round. I expect them to sweep the Jazz.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder vs Dallas Mavericks: A rematch from last years Western Conference Finals, however things seem to be different this time around. The defending champs have been in a slump all year long. Dirk will likely put the team on his back and get one or two wins by himself but don’t expect anything more from the Mavs.
3. Los Angeles Lakers vs 6. Denver Nuggets: This is an upset waiting to happen. The Lakers are an overrated basketball team and have been living of reputation all year long. Kobe has been not himself in the 4th quarter this year and Metta World Peace will miss the first six games of the playoffs due to a suspension. With all that said I still think the Lakers have too much height (Bynum Gasol) and see them winning in a game 7 with World Peace making his return and having a significant impact on both sides of the ball.
4. Memphis Grizzlies vs 5. Los Angeles Clippers: Everyone’s favorite sleeper team to make the finals in the Grizzlies, everyone except me. Memphis will have no answers for Chris Paul, the best point guard in the league, and he is becoming the most unstoppable force when it comes to the fourth quarter. Last year the Grizzlies didn’t have Rudy Gay in the playoffs and that helped them because now they are doing more isolation and less ball movement. The Clippers will win in 6.
There is mostly chalk here but in the first round of the playoffs there is very rarely major upsets. Make sure you are by a television because this weekend is one of the most exciting times in all sports. Leave your comments on who you think will be advancing to the second round.
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