May 1, 2012 Leave a comment
#1 San Antonio (50-16) vs. #8 Utah (36-30)
The Spurs drew the easiest Western conference opponent possible in their first round series. The Rockets or Suns would have stretched the floor with 3-point shooters and either team could have won a game or even two against San Antonio. While the blue-collar Utah Jazz are hungry and well-coached, they are severely over-matched in this series and should get swept out of the first round. After being shocked by the #8 seed Grizzlies last season, perhaps this is just what San Antonio needs for their confidence.
Spurs in 4
#4 Memphis (41-25) vs. #5 L.A. Clippers (40-26)
Two of the hottest teams to end the season face off in perhaps the most intriguing matchup of the first round. The Clippers have the best player on the court in Chris Paul but Memphis comes in with a more-balanced team and more importantly more playoff experience. Throw in the fact that the Grizzlies got home-court advantage on the last day of the regular season and I like Memphis to edge the Clippers out in a very competitive back-and-forth series. Look for the Grizzlies to use their inside game against the undersized Clipps as they move on to an epic rematch of Spurs-Grizzlies.
Grizzlies in 7
#2 Oklahoma City (47-19) vs. #7 Dallas (36-30)
The defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks take on title favorite Oklahoma City in a rematch of last year’s Western Conference Finals. The Mavs took that series 4-1 on their way to the NBA Finals but things should be much different this time around. The Thunder are loaded at every position and have two legitimate MVP candidates this season in Durant and Westbrook while Dallas has struggled to find an identity after the losing Tyson Chandler in free agency. Experience, Dirk Nowitzki and the heart of a champion should all make this series competitive. At the end of the day however, the younger, more talented team will move on to face the Lakers in the most anticipated matchup of the 2012 NBA Playoffs.
Thunder in 6
#3 L.A. Lakers (41-25) vs. #6 Denver (38-28)
Many Lakers fans were salivating at the chance to exact revenge on Dallas this year in the first round. Instead, the Lakers drew the Denver Nuggets and this Lakers fan couldn’t be happier. As pointed out in depth in “Golden Nuggets: 5 Reasons Denver better matchup than Dallas for L.A.”, Denver is a much easier matchup for the Lakers than Dallas. After being swept by the Mavs last post-season and even struggling against New Orleans in the first round, the Lakers could use a series like this to get their playoff swagger back. If the Lakers pound the ball inside and control tempo they should be able to beat the Nuggets quite handily, maybe even sweep them.
Lakers in 5
#1 Chicago (50-16) vs. #8 Philadelphia (35-31)
Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls look to begin their championship run against the struggling 76ers. Philadelphia limped into the playoffs after starting the season as one of the top teams in the East and draw a tough matchup against defensive-minded Chicago. Speaking of limping, the reigning MVP Derrick Rose missed over 25 games this season due to various ailments but should be ready for this series. While he gives the Bulls a huge advantage in the backcourt, the real mismatch here is in the frontcourt. The Sixers lack a true center and will have fits dealing with Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson inside. Both teams are well-coached, but Chicago should win this series easily.
Bulls in 5
#4 Boston (39-27) vs. #5 Atlanta (40-26)
The Celtics are one of the more difficult teams to figure out as we enter the postseason. They struggled early in the season but after switching Kevin Garnett to center and moving Avery Bradley into the starting lineup, they’ve played extremely well. Boston has both experience and a huge edge in coaching which should allow them to advance past the Hawks, even if the series does start in Atlanta. Being without all-star Al Horford for the playoffs certainly does not help Atlanta’s cause either. Only because Atlanta has home-court advantage and Ray Allen is injured for Boston, I’ll pick the Celtics to win the series but not sweep the Hawks.
Celtics in 5
#2 Miami (46-20) vs. #7 New York (36-30)
It’s LeBron vs. ‘Melo in a matchup loaded with NBA superstars. The Knicks hope to exorcise their playoff demons this year after getting swept by the Boston Celtics in embarrassing fashion last season. That’ll be easier said than done against a Miami Heat poised to return the NBA Finals in a weak Eastern Conference. Carmelo will have to average 30 ppg and role players like Baron Davis and Tyson Chandler will have to step up big if the Knicks have upset aspirations. That being said, New York will be lucky to win a single game in this series as they’re clearly outmatched defensively.
Heat in 5
#3 Indiana (42-24) vs. #6 Orlando (37-29)
What could have been an intriguing series figures to be the most dull matchup of the 2012 NBA Playoffs thanks to Dwight Howard’s back injury. The Pacers have been the surprise team of the East this season thanks to solid defense and balanced scoring. While they lack a true superstar, Danny Granger, David West, Darren Collison and Roy Hibbert are all studs meaning the Pacers should make quick work of Orlando. That being said, teams in the East always find ways to prolong an easy series, so I’m predicting Big Baby Davis and the sharp-shooting Magic will steal a couple of games in this series.