Homecourt advantage was nearly nonexistent in what was easily the best series in the first round. The road team won FOUR times. Outside of Games 1 and 3, the games came down to the last few possessions.
While it was weird to see the defending champion Spurs eliminated in the FIRST ROUND, I am excited to see what the second round holds for us fans.
1. Atlanta Hawks vs. 5. Washington Bullets
Analysis: In Game 6 of the Nets series, the Hawks FINALLY played the complete dominant game that we have come to see from them for most of the season. They will not get much rest going into this afternoon’s game vs. the Bullets, so fatigue may work against them. Meanwhile, Washington looked pretty damn good in sweeping the Raptors. The question now is will Paul Pierce punk the Hawks? Given that the Hawks are a far better team than the Raptors, I think it’s unlikely.
Prediction: Hawks in 6
2. Cleveland Cavaliers vs. 3. Chicago Bulls
Analysis: This should be the best series in the second round. Two division rivals who are arguably the best teams in the East. Oh, and they hate each other. LeBron James sniping with Joakim Noah. The Bulls looking to exert their physicality on the Cavs. Much-see TV indeed. Having said all of that, it will be tough for the Cavs to win this series without Kevin Love. His outside shooting created space for James and Kyrie Irving to operate. Love’s rebounding will be sorely missed as well. And with the Bulls (namely Derrick Rose) staying healthy, and with the obvious coaching advantage Chicago has, LeBron will have a tough time getting his crew past those cats.
Prediction: Bulls in 6
1. Golden State Warriors vs. 5. Memphis Grizzlies
Analysis: This fits the classic “styles makes fights” narrative. A high-flying, up-tempo team in Golden State facing an old-school, grinding Grizzlies. While I do think this series will be competitive, I think the Warriors will have too much firepower (led by MVP candidate Stephen Curry and fellow sharpshooter Klay Thompson) for Memphis.
Prediction: Warriors in 6
2. Houston Rockets vs. 3. Los Angeles Clippers
Analysis: On the heels of the most exciting series in the first round, the Clippers may be prime for an ultimate let-down in Game 1. The Rockets have plenty of scoring punch led by MVP candidate James Harden, but they do not have the toughness that the Clippers have. Besides, one can’t pick a squad that employs Dwight Coward.
Prediction: Clippers in 6