For basketball fans, this is one of the best times of year. March Madness has just concluded, but there’s still plenty of basketball due to the start of the NBA playoffs. With long seven-game series, here’s a look at the teams that should come out on top.
San Antonio vs. Dallas
The best team in the NBA this season, the seasoned Spurs are hungry for another title. Unlike last year, nobody’s counting them out. The core three of Duncan, Ginobli and Parker have played together for so long and they’ve got younger players around them that can produce too. A team driven by fundamentals and playing smart ball, they have patience on offense and take away what you want to do on defense. Dirk Nowitzki might get a game on his sheer incredible talent, but won’t threaten San Antonio.
Prediction: Spurs 4-1
Oklahoma City vs. Memphis
Pitting offense vs defense, OKC is a team that loves to run and most likely has this year’s MVP on its roster. Kevin Durant is unstoppable on the offensive end and his running mate Russell Westbrook can takeover whenever he needs and make the big plays. Memphis has come up with some upsets in the past few years, but I don’t see it at all this year. The Thunder have yet to win a title and have some revenge to get.
Prediction: OKC 4-0
L.A. Clippers vs. Golden State
This could possibly be the most exciting series of the first round of the NBA playoffs. Both teams can bring the flash on the offensive end and have incredible all-stars. However, both teams have struggled putting wins together in the postseason, so whichever team can figure it out quicker will win. Nevertheless, the Clippers have had a solid season under Doc Rivers, and his championship experience could lead to an easy first-round. I don’t see Blake Griffin and Chris Paul folding under pressure this year.
Prediction: Clippers 4-2
Houston vs. Portland
Two very similar teams square off here. Both the Rockets and Trailblazers love to run and can shoot the three. Offense will certainly be the focus. During the season series, Houston won three of the four games and therefore have proved they know how to beat a young and upcoming Portland squad. While Damien Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge have been fantastic, James Harden seems to be just a bit better.
Prediction: Houston 4-3
Indiana vs. Atlanta
The Pacers have been struggling of late, but don’t expect any upsets happening in the first round. Entering the playoffs under .500, Atlanta is simply lucky to have made the playoffs. The Pacers will be ready to go and know they must step up to contend for a championship. Paul George, Roy Hibbert and company will be back to form and this will be a quick sweep.
Prediction: Indiana 4-0
Miami vs. Charlotte
Another team that didn’t hit its peak entering the postseason, the Miami Heat look fairly rundown. They’ve dealt with injuries all season with Dwayne Wade playing about half the season. Nevertheless, LeBron James is still ready to play and that alone will take the Heat passed the Bobcats. Miami is looking for a three-peat to possibly become one of the best franchises in NBA history and this is the Heat’s time of year.
Prediction: Miami 4-0
Toronto vs. Brooklyn
In an upset is going to happen in the first round, this is the series where it will happen. Since the start of the New Year, the Nets have been playing incredible basketball. Plus, they have a couple players (aka Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce) that need to show they moved to New Jersey for a reason. A veteran squad, the Nets have finally figured out the pieces. Meanwhile, Toronto might break under the pressure with a lack of postseason experience.
Prediction: Brooklyn 4-2
Chicago vs. Washington
Joakim Noah has been one of the most exciting players to watch of late. Capable of tallying a triple-double, Noah has led the Bulls to a solid season without injury-prone Derrick Rose again. The Bulls are peaking at the right time, playing extremely well since January. Therefore, despite the fact that the Wizards won two of the three games in the regular-season series, this one goes to the Bulls. The home court advantage gives a big edge.
Prediction: Chicago 4-3