Now that the long regular season is over, the REAL season begins: the NBA playoffs. There is a lot to look forward to what should be the most wide-open tournament in recent memory.
Oh, that LeBron James fella won’t be making it to THIS party.
At any rate, let’s go…
(1) Milwaukee Bucks vs. (8) Detroit Pistons
Analysis: the Greek Freak and Co.’s have been on a mission this season. Now it’s their chance to show the NBA world and fans that they are to be reckoned with and a potential worthy foe for Golden State. And luckily for them, the Pistons won’t put up much of a fight.
Prediction: Bucks in 4
(4) Boston Celtics vs. (5) Indiana Pacers
Analysis: this is one of the most intriguing and competitive series in the first round. Seeing the Pacers competing night in and night out sets up the ultimate “what-if” if leading scorer Victor Oladipo stayed healthy. That is too bad, because even though the Celtics are a mess chemistry-wise, Indiana does not have the necessary talent to win this series.
Prediction: Celtics in 6
(3) Philadelphia 76ers vs. (6) Brooklyn Nets
Analysis: as happy as I am to see my “birth borough” back in the playoffs (I preferred my Knicks to be there, but they suck — so here we are), there is no way they are gonna beat Philly. Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler AND Tobias Harris? Yeah, good luck with that.
Prediction: 76ers in 5
(2) Toronto Raptors vs. (7) Orlando Magic
Analysis: the Magic were a great story, but the fairy tale ends in Toronto — and it’s gonna end hard…
Prediction: Raptors in 5
(1) Golden State Warriors vs. (8) Los Angeles Clippers
Analysis: I would have preferred to see the Thunder here — that would have made it one helluva #1 vs. #8 match-up! But even though I didn’t get that “dream” scenario, the Clippers should push the Warriors, especially for an 8th seed. Too bad it won’t make for a long series.
Prediction: Warriors in 5
(4) Houston Rockets vs. (5) Utah Jazz
Analysis: I think the Rockets are on a mission to get back at the Warriors after narrowly missing out on the NBA Finals last season. The Jazz may be game, but as with the case last season, they don’t stand a chance against James Harden (“fear the beard”, dammit!) and the Rockets.
Prediction: Rockets in 5
(3) Portland Trail Blazers vs. (6) Oklahoma City Thunder
Analysis: this series, in addition to Celtics-Pacers, is the most intriguing and competitive of the opening round. It surely doesn’t lack for star power. Damian Lillard on one side, Russell Westbrook and Paul George on the other. Portland will miss Jusuf Nurkic IMMENSELY, and that will be the difference in advancing to the second round.
Prediction: Thunder in 6
(2) Denver Nuggets vs. (7) San Antonio Spurs
Analysis: the green Nuggets vs. Gregg Popovich and the playoff- and battle-tested Spurs? Yeah, I’m taking the latter 10 times out of 10.
Prediction: Spurs in 6