NBA: First Round Playoff Predictions
The 2013-2014 NBA regular season has reached its conclusion and now the real season begins. The 2014 NBA Playoffs begin on Saturday April 19 and will continue through mid-June when we crown this year’s NBA Champion. Let’s take a look at the matchups:
1. Indiana Pacers vs. 8. Atlanta Hawks (Season series: tied 2-2)
The Pacers limped into the playoffs and still won the Eastern Conference as the Heat began to rest their players down the stretch run. The Hawks narrowly edged the Knicks to make the playoffs and their reward is to get manhandled by the Pacers in the first round. The Pacers will win all three home games and one in Atlanta to move on to the next round.
Prediction: Pacers in 5
2. Miami Heat vs. 7. Charlotte Bobcats (Season series: Heat won 4-0)
The Heat are looking to be the 6th team in NBA history to three-peat and begin their quest with a first round matchup against the Bobcats who are making their second appearance in the postseason in franchise history. Charlotte is still looking for their first playoff victory after getting swept in the 2009-2010 playoffs by the Orlando Magic. The Bobcats will shock the basketball world by winning Game 1 of this series, only to drop the next four games as the Heat will be too much to handle.
Prediction: Heat in 5
3. Toronto Raptors vs. 6. Brooklyn Nets (Season series: tied 2-2)
Demar Derozan averaged 22.7ppg this season leading the Raptors to a 48-win season and the three-seed in the East. The Nets have turned the ship around significantly after going 10-21 in the 2013 portion of the schedule by going 34-17 after January 1 to finish with a 44-38 record. The bench production will be the key in this series and the Raptors have the edge of the Nets in that category.
Prediction: Raptors in 6
4. Chicago Bulls vs. 5. Washington Wizards (Season series: Wizards won 2-1)
My only upset pick in the East for the first round is in this series. The Bulls just can’t seem to score enough points and won’t be able to keep up with the high-flying Wizards. The combination of John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Trevor Ariza will lead the Wizards through the first round of the playoffs for the first time since the 2004-2005 season.
Prediction: Wizards in 7
1. San Antonio Spurs vs. 8. Dallas Mavericks (Season series: Spurs won 4-0)
The Spurs should consider changing their team name to the “San Antonio Ageless Wonders” as they just keep winning year-after-year despite doubts from NBA “experts” saying they are “too old” and “too slow” to contend. Well guess what? They finished with the NBA’s best record this season and will be shooting for their fifth NBA Championship in franchise history.
Prediction: Spurs in 5
2. Oklahoma City Thunder vs. 7. Memphis Grizzlies (Season series: Thunder won 3-1)
The Thunder will be faced with a tough task in the first round when they face Zach Randolph and the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies enter the playoffs with a 14 game winning streak at home, while the Thunder finished with the second best home record in the league by going 34-7 in Oklahoma City. I see the home team winning all seven home games of this series, resulting in an OKC series victory.
Prediction: Thunder in 7
3. Los Angeles Clippers vs. 6. Golden State Warriors (Season series: tied 2-2)
If there is one first round matchup that may break out into a hockey fight, it would be this one. There have been scuffles and ejections in the past two matchups between these two squads, including Christmas night with Blake Griffin and Andrew Bogut expressing their holiday spirit to one another. The Warriors will be without Bogut at the beginning of the series and are not sure as to when he will return, so expect DeAndre Jordan and Griffin to dominate the boards.
Prediction: Clippers in 6
4. Houston Rockets vs. 5. Portland Trailblazers (Season series: Houston won 3-1)
The Trailblazers coasted into the playoffs, while the Rockets surged down the stretch even with Dwight Howard being sidelined. Howard is healthy and ready to rumble for the playoffs now. Howard and James Harden know how to win closely contested ball games, which will come in handy in this year’s wild, wild west.
Prediction: Rockets in 6