Today the playoffs start and I think the entire nation is ready for some playoffs basketball. I would like to think this is a wide open year for the Finals but of course you have your favorites. 4 games are slated for Saturday but I'll give my prediction for each 1st round series.
#1 Hawks vs #8 Nets
The Hawks on paper are the natural favorites being the top seed in the East, but I don't think this will be an easy series for them. I think the Nets are underachievers, and if they played to their full potential, especially Deron Williams, they would be much higher than an 8th seed. Still, I see the Hawks winning this series in 6 games.
#2 Cavaliers vs #7 Celtics
If it was the year 2009, this would be a premier matchup. In LeBron younger days, his team was the inexperience squad going against veteran led Celtics, but roles have changed. I don't think the young Celtics have enough to knock off the loaded Cavs. I can see them winning one game to avoid the sweep, but I'm picCavs in 5 games. Also pay attention to how Kyrie and K-Love play in their first postseason.
#3 Bulls vs #6 Bucks
I don't think it is far fetched to think this series will go 7 games. The Bucks really surprised me this year with their performance, going from 15 wins last season to 41 this year, even without Jabari Parker. The Bulls are more experienced, making it to the playoffs for the 7th straight season. This will also be Derrick Rose first postseason appearance since 2012 when he tore his ACL in the first round, so this is definitely a good series to keep an eye on. I'm going with the Bulls in 6 games, Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah will dominate the paint.
#4 Raptors vs #5 Wizards
The 4-5 matchup is always the best in the first round, mainly because both teams are even. This series has a few intriguing individual matchups all over the court, Lowry vs Wall, DeRozan vs Pierce, Valanciunas vs Gortat. DeRozan and Pierce seen each other last year in the first round, when Pierce was with the Nets, and Pierce got the best of the Raptors that series. I'm not sure if he can have the same effect but I wouldn't be surprised if he did. I think this series will be long and entertaining with the Wizards winning in 7 games.
#1 Warriors vs #8 Pelicans
I really like this series. I don't think this will be an easy one for the Warriors mainly because of Anthony Davis. In the postseason, the pace of the game usually slow down and becomes half-court basketball, which I think helps the Pelicans. Pelicans will have to find a way to match the Warriors fire power in the backcourt, which I'm not sure they can do. Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday will have to play out of their minds to cancel out the Splash Brothers. I'm picking the Warriors in 5 games.
#2 Rockets vs #7 Mavericks
For me, the Mavs winning this series will not be an upset. Matchup wise, I think the Mavs are the better team. Other than James Harden, the Rockets don't have a dangerous threat, unlike the Mavs who has 3 players that could go for 20, not to mention a strong bench. Plus, I don't trust the Rockets, mainly because of Dwight Howard. If he actually plays like a dominant big man should, then the Rockets will win this series, that's a big IF though. I'm going with the Mavs in 6 games.
#3 Clippers vs #6 Spurs
Doc Rivers vs Greg Popavich, Tony Parker vs Chris Paul, Blake Griffin vs Tim Duncan. This series has the potential to be the best in the first round. I think the Spurs are the only #6 seed to be favorites to reach the NBA Finals, also favorites to win it. Clippers lack of depth will haunt them this series. I would say they're less experienced but the main components like Paul, Griffin, Jordan, Davis, Reddick, Barnes, and Hawes have playoff experience. I think this will be an entertaining series, I'm picking the Spurs to win in 6 games.
#4 Blazers vs #5 Grizzlies
Last time we seen the Blazers in the playoffs, Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge put on a show, knocking off the Rockets in the first round. They will be facing a different beast this year though. The Grizzlies have a very balanced team, which isn't nothing new. They can score, they play great defense, got size, and depth. I really like the Jeff Green acquisition for them too. Blazers will give the Grizzlies a good run but I think depth and defense will give the Grizzlies the series in 6 games.