Here is a 1st round preview and prediction of the NBA Playoffs
The NBA couldn’t have asked for better seeding out West, starting from the top with Oklahoma City and Houston being paired together. James Harden was traded to the Rockets by Oklahoma City at the beginning of the season in a massive deal that shocked the NBA. Houston is a team with tremendous upside and surprised everyone by making the playoffs, but an upset over the Thunder seems unlikely. The Rockets will have a tough time stopping Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook enough to defeat them in a seven game series. The last time James Harden played against the Thunder, he dropped 46 points in a home victory.
- 1. Oklahoma City Thunder vs. 8. Houston Rockets, Thunder in 5
Next up the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies run into each other again, a rematch of last season’s epic first round battle. The Clippers won in 7 games as the 5 seed, this time they’ll get home court and be the 4 seed. The Grizzlies failed miserably in taking advantage of “Lob City” last season in the playoffs after a crazy game one comeback by Los Angeles. According to ESPN.com the rally from being down 21 points and winning, was the largest in playoff history. I think this will go seven games, the Grizzlies have the big men to slow down Blake Griffin, but stopping Chris Paul is another story.
- 4. Los Angeles Clippers vs. 5. Memphis Grizzlies, Clippers in 7
Another fantastic series should unfold here, as the high scoring Nuggets and Warriors face off in an interesting match-up. According to NBA.com, Denver and Golden State were in the top 7 of scoring. The Nuggets posted an astonishing 38-3 home record, doing so with a fast paced offense and multiple scoring threats. On the other side, Golden State has a record breaking three point shooter in Steph Curry. Defensively the Warriors will have a very difficult time stopping the Nuggets. Unfortunately for Denver they will be missing their Italian sharp shooter Danilo Gallinari due to a torn ACL and possibly Kenneth Farried, because of an ankle injury. Even with these injuries, this seems like a series win for Denver, Golden State struggled at the end of the season while Denver did not.
- 3. Denver Nuggets vs. 6. Golden State Warriors, Nuggets in 6
No Kobe Bryant for this one, but the Spurs and Lakers go at it yet again. The Lakers surprisingly made the playoffs as a 7 seed after Kobe Bryant went down with a torn Achilles. Los Angeles seemed to play better as a team without him, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol stepped up and showed why they make big money. Some people have the Spurs being upset by Los Angeles, as San Antonio didn’t seem to be in sync at the end of their season. Even with that being said, not having Kobe Bryant means bad news for Lakers fans.
- 2. San Antonio Spurs vs. 7. Los Angeles Lakers, Spurs in 5
The Miami Heat cruised to a 66-16 record, leading the NBA and looking nearly unstoppable down the stretch. LeBron James is poised for another MVP award after putting up monster numbers of nearly 27 points per game, along with 8 rebounds and just over 7 assists. The other part of the “Big 3″ Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will prove to be too much for a Milwaukee Bucks team that crashed into the 8 seed. Having the lowest record of all playoff teams at 38-44. This is a nightmare match-up for Milwaukee having to deal with a playoff ready Miami. I think the Bucks will be lucky to win one game, but anything could happen.
- 1. Miami Heat vs. 8 Milwaukee Bucks, Heat in 4
According to ESPN.com, Chicago Bulls head coach, Tom Thibodeau said Derrick Rose will “most likely be out” for the entire postseason. Rose suffered a torn ACL last season in the playoffs and hasn’t played since. The Brooklyn Nets have home court over Chicago but the Bulls defense might be too much in the end. Every game in this series should be a good one and if the Nets want to win, they’ll need outstanding play from their star point guard, Deron Williams. Joakim Noah is a game time decision for Chicago in game one, which would be a crushing loss for them. The Bulls need all the help they can get not having Derrick Rose for the playoffs. This might end up being the best Eastern Conference battle, the winner probably get a date with Miami.
- 4. Brooklyn Nets vs. 5. Chicago Bulls, Bulls in 7
The Pacers lost control of the 2 seed, so they’ll have their eyes set on the Atlanta Hawks. A defensive minded Pacers team will pose problems for a Hawks team that seemed disinterested at times of looking like a playoff squad. Josh Smith will need to be an all-star player if they want to upset Indiana. Indiana is dealing with some minor injuries and obviously won’t have Danny Granger for this series, but the Hawks don’t look like to much of a playoff team right now. The Pacers are tough and the Hawks might not have enough scoring options.
- 3. Indiana Pacers vs. 6. Atlanta Hawks, Pacers in 5
Here’s an old school, grind it out, kind of series between Boston and New York. Of course the Celtics will be without Rajon Rondo, but their confidence will still be present. Scoring champ, Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks, averaging 28.7 points per game and earning New York a 2 seed. Which also means if they have to meet up with Miami, it won’t be until the Eastern Conference Finals and that would be fun to watch. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett always play tough in the Playoffs, they’ve been doing this with Boston for some years now. The Celtics were just one game away from the NBA Finals last season, before losing to Miami in game seven. This should be an exciting series, watching these two rivals go at it. But not having Rondo in a seven game series might be too much for Boston. The Knicks looked like one of the best teams down the stretch and Carmelo was on a tear.
- 2. New York Knicks vs. 7. Boston Celtics, Knicks in 6
* I do not own any of these images
Schedule, weekend games.
Saturday, April 20th
- Celtics at Knicks, 3:00 PM ET on ABC
- Warriors at Nuggets, 5:30 PM ET on ESPN
- Bulls at Nets, 8:00 PM ET on ESPN
- Grizzlies at Clippers, 10:30 PM ET on ESPN
Sunday, April 21st
- Hawks at Pacers, 1:00 PM ET on TNT
- Lakers at Spurs, 3:30 PM ET on ABC
- Bucks at Heat, 7:00 PM ET on TNT
- Rockets at Thunder, 9:30 PM ET on TNT