NBA Playoffs: First Round Matchups

Western Conference Playoffs:

#1 Spurs vs #8 Jazz:

The Jazz did a great job to rebuild back into a playoff contender so quickly after Deron Williams’ departure. They did a great job to edge out Houston and Phoenix, but unfortunately that’s as far as it goes for this team. The Spurs, unfortunately are just better at almost every position. They are better coached, they play better defense and they have more playoff experience. Plus, Tony Parker is having arguably the best season of his career. The only way the Jazz have a chance to steal a few games in this series is to use their youth and outrun the Spurs for 48 minutes. If you let the Spurs set up in a half court defense it is very hard to score against them. Overall, they have a younger and fresher team and if they fast break this team they may have a chance to steal a game. Don’t expect another #8 seed upset against the Spurs this year. Sure the Jazz have the height down low like the Grizzlies but they’re not as gritty, defensive minded or deep. They have no chance at winning this series. Spurs win 4-1.

#2 Thunder vs # 7 Mavericks:

This series is a given through my eyes. The Thunder are younger, quicker, better, faster, and more talented as a team. Besides the Mavericks’ success this season, they never really created this team for this season. It’s all about free agency this summer. When they gave up Chandler, Barea, Butler and Stevenson they gave up a chance of winning another championship. Especially when their Lamar Odom experiment failed, they lost more depth and a chance at a repeat. The Thunder are younger and more talented, they will outrun the Mavs they will shut the Mavs down and they should have their way with this team. They are also wiser and more experienced of a bunch this year. But look for Dirk to still put up 30 a night, unfortunately it won’t mean much because the Thunder will win in 5.

#3 Lakers vs # 6 Nuggets:

This series is tough one, out of all the match-ups this is is the one that would most likely be a possible upset. However, i’m taking the Lakers in this series. I think the Lakers are just too big for the Nuggets. When Bynum is playing like the future Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol is dishing, rebounding and scoring, the Lakers are unstoppable. McGee is big, sure, but he isn’t a good defender in the post. It should be a battle down low, and if Bynum can use a variety of post moves then he should give the Lakers the edge. When the Lakers play an effective inside out game they’re unstoppable, with Kobe knocking down his shots and Bynum dominating the post they’re unguardable. They have three players who command full attention from defenses, and best of all, all three command attention from different areas on the floor, which always guarantees an opening somewhere. The Lakers need to have everyone score the ball for them in this series. If they stand around and stare at Kobe all day they won’t last long in the playoffs. If they get everyone involved, they should do very well.  The key for the Nuggets to win the series is for their bench to overproduce. The Lakers are very thin, especially with the absence of Metta World Peace due to his elbow to the head of James Harden. The Lakers don’t have a very solid bench so if the Nuggets can hit LA with a balanced attack the Nuggets can have a solid chance at an upset. They’re also going to need Afflalo to play the toughest defense he’s ever played against Kobe to give them a chance. If Kobe gets hot in the postseason there is no slowing him down. They have to shut him down early. Lakers win in 6.

#4 Grizzlies vs #5 Clippers:

The winner of this series is also a toss up for me. But I’ll go with the Grizzlies on this one. I think the Grizzlies are too good a team defensively to lose this series. They have a better front court then the Clippers, they have more depth and when they clinched home-court I knew the Grizzlies would win this series. Remember last year when the Memphis fans almost won them the Thunder series and did win them the series against the Spurs. Their crowd is rowdy and really boost this team.  The Clippers are just as talented as the Grizzlies but have a very incomplete team. CP3 is unstoppable, Blake Griffin is unstoppable but the rest of their roster is lacking. When they lost Chauncey Billups their bench suffered as well. They’re going to need CP3 and Blake Griffin to go crazy in this series for them to win, because the Grizzlies are better everywhere else. The Grizzlies are going to need their bench to outplay the Clippers bench and they need Z-BO to shut down Griffin and Tony Allen to really bother CP3. If he can disrupt CP3 then their whole offense is gone. Grizzlies win in 7.

Eastern Conference Playoffs:

#1 Bulls vs #8 76’ers:

This match-up should be an easy one for Chicago. Hell, most match-ups should be easy for Chicago. But if Rose isn’t 100% this may be a harder series to win. The 76’ers are a very good team, very young, deep, and well coached. If Rose is 100% in this series, it’s a given for Chicago. Chicago’s defense is just too suffocating for any team to score on. If he’s not 100%, if he dabbles with injuries or anything like that the Bulls will have a harder time. Key word harder. There is a difference between a longer series and an upset for Philly. The Bulls will win this no doubt, it just depends on Rose’s health. Bulls in 5.

#2 Heat vs #7 Knicks:

Being the Knicks fan I am, it pains me to say that the Knicks have probably won’t win this series. They sure could make it hard though. The Heat have too much star power for the Knicks to compete with. They play one of the best defenses in the league and they just outmatch the Knicks. However, There are a few ways the Knicks can pull of an upset though. The first is if Amar’e gets his legs back in time and dominates Chris Bosh down low. He is the X factor for the series. Carmelo will have his hands full with Lebron, Dwyane Wade will have his hands full with Shumpert and that leaves Amar’e to really do work. If he can get 25 a night in this series then he can carry the Knicks. The other key for them is for their bench to keep producing at a very high level. The Knicks have a very deep bench. The Heat on the other hand have a very thin and inconsistent bench. If J.R Smith, Fields, Novak, Douglas, even Jeffries can impact the game and dominate the Heat’s second unit then the Knicks can win this series and pull of an upset. If Shumpert can shut down Dwyane Wade the Knicks would also have a better chance. Shumpert is one of the best defenders in the entire league and if he can contain Dwyane Wade that limits the Heat to Lebron James considering Bosh is shut down by Chandler. As well as Tyson Chandler dominating the paint, and making himself a presence down low. The Heat are a very small team, and Chandler is 7’1 and should out-rebound everyone. In their last match-up the Heat out-rebounded the Knicks, that shouldn’t happen in this series. Besides that, the obvious thing to remember is don’t turn the ball over. The Heat are the best team in fast-break points and they will kill the Knicks if they make lousy turnovers.  Otherwise, the Heat will take this series in 6.

#3 Pacers vs #6 Magic:

Charles Barkeley said it best, the Magic are just waiting for a way out. It’s so true. The Magic are the most discombobulated team in the playoffs, and the worst team in the playoffs. Without Dwight this team is awful, the whole offense of this team with Dwight is get it inside to Howard, let him draw a double team and then dish it out to one of the three point shooters who are wide open. Without Howard the Magic take contested threes and they become normal shooters now. They can’t create shots off the dribble, they can’t even defend without Howard. Roy Hibbert should also have a field day inside. It won’t even be fair. He’ll get about 25 and 12 a game for this series. He just outsizes the whole team, and will have his way in the post. We’ll really get to see the development of Hibbert and his arsenal of moves against Orlando. The Pacers are a very solid team, very balanced, young. They’re not showy they’re just very good. They will kill the Magic and especially with their home court advantage they should kill Orlando. The Pacers fans haven’t had so much to be excited about since Reggie Miller was in town. The crowd will be eccentric, crazy and scare the Magic out of Indiana. Indiana sweeps this series.

#4 Celtics vs #5 Hawks:

The Celtics will most definitely win this series. They really put together a good run toward the end of the season. They did a great job of inserting Avery Bradley into the starting lineup to play his lockdown defense and provide fresh legs. Then bring Ray Allen off the bench and let him dominate against second units, as well as rain three pointers from off the bench. Rajon Rondo is as always playing amazing, the whole team seems to be gelling and Doc Rivers has included Stiesma into the lineup and he has responded effectively. The Celtics have more experience a better homecourt and a better team. Especially without the inside presence of Al Horford, Kevin Garnett should have fun scoring on whoever dares to get embarrassed. Celtics will win in 6.

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