This is the first time in 5 years the Cavs haven’t been in the playoffs. It’ll be ok Cleveland, we’ll be back. In the meantime, we get to enjoy what could be a very dramatic NBA Playoffs season. There are a lot of intriguing matchups and story lines that go beyond basketball. Can the Heat do what they said they’d do, can the Celtics figure out what’s wrong, are the Lakers healthy enough to three-peat, are the Bulls ready to ascend the mountain to greatness? We’ll find out the answer to those questions and more as the Playoffs kick off today. Here are my quick predictions for round 1.
#1 Chicago Bulls vs. #8 Indian Pacers: The Bulls have a lot of talent. The Pacers make up for their lack of talent by trying to out hustle everyone else. I don’t think that’s going to matter. The Bulls have the league’s likely MVP in Derek Rose. There is no way he lets Indiana have any sense of hope or having a chance. Derek Rose is going for the jugular. The Bulls will get past the Pacers quickly. Bulls in 5.
#2 Miami Heat vs. #7 Philadelphia 76ers: The Heat have the three mojitos and the 76ers don’t have anyone that can begin to match up with them. I think the 76ers are young and athletic enough to make this more interesting than it should be, but they won’t be able to stop LeBron James or Dwyane Wade. Miami looks scary good in 4 wins, and scary bad in 2 losses. Miami takes this in 6.
#3 Boston Celtics vs. #6 New York Knicks: Everyone wants to pick the Knicks because the Celtics are broken. I’m not that dumb. The Celtics will turn it on again and look like the Celtics of old. The Knicks don’t play enough defense to stop Boston and everyone jumps back on the band wagon. Celtics take this in 6 and Carmelo Anthony faces another early playoff exit.
#4 Orlando Magic vs. #5 Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks are in shambles and the Magic have Dwight Howard. Ball game. The Magic have too much and the Hawks are not the same team they’ve been in years passed. In fact, they look like they’ve quit on yet another coach. Magic take this one in 5.
#1 San Antonio Spurs vs. #2 Memphis Grizzlies: Memphis is young and athletic. The Spurs are old and experienced with Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili. I’ll take the latter, but it won’t be easy. I’ll take the Spurs in 6 very close, highly contested games.
#2 Los Angeles Lakers vs. #7 New Orleans Hornets: Everyone thinks the Lakers will win this one quickly. I’m not so sure. Although David West is out for the season, Carl Landry has filled in nicely, and they still have Chris Paul. I think the Lakers win this one, but not in the 4 or 5 games everyone thinks. Lakers win this one in a very scary 7 games.
#3 Dallas Mavericks vs. #6 Portland Trailblazers: I’m jumping on the upset bandwagon here. The Blazers are too athletic and have a certified beast in the middle with LaMarcus Aldridge. Dallas is a one man band at this point with Dirk Nowitzki. I think Dallas will struggle and Portland will take advantage of it. This is my lone upset pick of the first round. Trailblazers win this series in 6.
#4 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. #5 Denver Nuggets: I think this will be the most interesting series. The Thunder are everyone’s pick to make a run to the finals over the Lakers. The Nuggets have been amazing since losing Carmelo Anthony in the trade with the Knicks. I think this will be a fun and fast paced series, but the Nuggets don’t have a legit crunch time guy. The Thunder have two in Westbrook and Durant. It’ll be fun, but the Thunder win this series in 6.