NBA Playoffs: Early First Round Predictions

By: Jack Connolly – Lead NBA Columnist.

1. SAS vs 8. PHO

This matchup was relatively easy to call. Although the Suns have been exciting to watch all season long, they don’t really stand a chance against a Spurs team that has won 17 games in a row. Coach Popovich has his squad firing on all cylinders and it will take a mammoth performance to bring them down.

The Verdict: SAS in four games.

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2. OKC vs 7. DAL

This one is too easy. While Durant may struggle in some games due to the inevitable stifling defense from Shawn Marion, the trio of him, Westbrook, and Ibaka is just too overwhelming for the Mavericks.

The Verdict: OKC in five games.

 

3. LAC vs 6. GSW

This series is by far the most intriguing and entertaining of the entire first round of the playoffs. Griffin has been playing well all year, and with Paul fully healthy the Clippers will be a scary team to face. On the other side, when the season began, the only thing the Warriors lacked was a bench. But after acquiring Steve Blake, overall play from the second unit has steadily improved Bitter rivals, the Warriors and Clippers will meet in seven games, with the Warriors winning the last game in Los Angeles.

The Verdict: GSW in seven games.

 

4. Hou vs 5.

Again, this is a very interesting series that will captivate many fans across the country.  With Damian Lillard emerging as a superstar in the league and LaMarcus Aldridge having the best season of his career, the Trail Blazers seem fit for a title run.  However, eight time All-Star Dwight Howard will hold down the paint, James Harden will run the offense, and the Rockets will run past the Trail Blazers in six games.

The Verdict: HOU in six games.

EAST

1. MIA vs 8. NYK

If you had told me the Knicks and Heat would meet in the playoffs on October 29, I would be practically jumping out of seat with joy.  However, unfortunately, this is not the case.  Even though the Heat are 5-5 in their last 10, where the Knicks are 8-2 (one of those losses is by 31), don’t expect the Knicks to put up a reasonable fight against the two time defending champs.

The Verdict: MIA in four games.

 

2. IND vs 7. CHA

Although interesting, the tandem of Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson doesn’t compare to that of Paul George, Roy Hibbert, and Lance Stephenson.  Besides the fact that the Bobcats just lack pure basketball talent, don’t be surprised when Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, known for his defense, locks up Paul George for a game or two.  The Bobcats win two games mainly due to their defense, but the young Pacers win in six.

The Verdict: IND in six games.

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3. CHI vs 6. WAS

I’ll cut to the chase.  Chicago wins this series in 7 games, albeit without a superstar.  The Bulls win primarily due to former coach of the year Tom Thibodeau.  Coach Thibs knows how to shut down an opposing offense, and will do so against John Wall and Bradley Beal for at least 4 games.

The Verdict: CHI in seven games.

 

4. TOR vs 5. BKN

This series will be a tossup. While the Raptors have been playing well all year with Kyle Lowry leading the pack, the Nets have somehow turned the switch and have won seven of their past 10 games.  Expect the Nets to have loads of confidence heading into the playoffs, only three of their last 12 games are against playoff contending teams.  Expect the veterans on the Nets (wait isn’t the entirety of the Nets comprised of veterans?) to pick up their play in the playoffs and win the series in six games over the Raptors.

The Verdict: BKN in six games.

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