The Playoffs are underway this Saturday morning after an amazing finish to the regular season Wednesday night.
Here are my predictions in the first round:
Saturday April 16th:
2) Toronto Raptors vs. 7) Indiana Pacers
ESPN 9:30 PT
The Toronto Raptors are looking to bounce back from last year’s disappointing first round exit against Paul George and the Indiana Pacers. The last time these two teams met, Raptors won by double digits even when they rested 3 of their starters. Expect the Raptors to make a statement early to show everyone they are contenders rather than pretenders.
Raptors take series 4-1
1) Golden State Warriors vs. 8) Houston Rockets
ABC 12:30 PT
Congratulations on Houston sneaking into the 8th seed despite their internal struggles throughout the season. Too bad they are going against arguably the best team in NBA history who just finished the season 73-9. Not even the fans of Houston are confident in their team coming out of this series with a victory.
Warriors take series 4-0.
4) Atlanta Hawks vs. 5) Boston Celtics
ESPN 4:00 PT
One of the two most intriguing matchups in the first round, with both teams finishing the season with the same record. Atlanta holds more experience in the playoffs, but Boston has a great group of young players led by All-Star Isiah Thomas. Neither team has a big advantage over the other so expect a great matchup.
Atlanta takes series 4-3
3) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. 6) Dallas Mavericks
ESPN 6:30 PT
The playoffs are not the playoffs without the Mavericks after clinching their 15th spot in 16 seasons. The Mavericks played the Thunders four times over the course of the regular season and lost every game. Even though regular season matchups are not the best predictors for the playoffs, but it is hard to see Mavericks taking this series.
Thunders take series 4-1
Sunday April 17th:
1) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. 8) Detroit Pistons
ABC 12:00 PT
The Cavaliers lost the series matchup against the Pistons in large part due to the Pistons ability to outrebound them. The Pistons also have one of the best pick-and-roll duos in the NBA with Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond, and it can give the Cavaliers some trouble defensively. The Cavaliers are the definite favorites, but it will not be an easy first round series if the Pistons are firing on all cylinders.
Cavaliers take series 4-2
3) Miami Heat vs. 6) Charlotte Hornets
TNT 2:30 PT
Another intriguing matchup in this first round will have the Heat against the Hornets who had one of the best records in the entire league after the All-Star Break. Even with Chris Bosh’s status is uncertain, the Heat still have great depth, playoff experience, and one of the best defensive centers in the NBA in Hassan Whiteside.
Heat take series 4-2
2) San Antonio Spurs vs. 7) Memphis Grizzlies
TNT 5:00 PT
It’s a miracle that the Grizzlies are even in the playoffs after losing both Marc Gasol and Mike Conley early in the season. It will be an easy first round for a historic Spurs team.
Spurs take series 4-0
4) Los Angeles Clippers vs. 5) Portland Trail Blazers
TNT 7:30 PT
The Trail Blazers are capping out an amazing season after losing 4 of their last 5 starters last season with a playoff berth against the Clippers. C.J. McCollum will win the NBA Most Improved Player Award and All-Star snubbed Lillard is an assassin on the court. Clippers have another 50+ win season and welcome back their superstar Blake Griffin. The Clippers are clearly the more talented team, but this series will be most entertaining.
Clippers take series 4-2