Miami Heat (1) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (8) – Miami in 5
I will go out on a limb and predict that the Bucks can steal one game at home. Picking Miami to sweep this series is too mainstream, and I honestly believe that Milwaukee can cause some (okay, very few) problems to the Heat.
New York Knicks (2) vs. Boston Celtics (7) – New York in 7 (flip a coin)
I’m worried about 2 things: Kevin Garnett’s ankle, and the Jeff Green disappearing act that happens when he starts alongside Garnett. Avery Bradley and Green will have to play their best ball of the season, which includes a hefty effort of trying to stop Carmelo Anthony and J.R Smith. I can’t look past the Knicks recent play of late; they have to be favored. This entire pick is based off my jinxing plan that’s worked in the past. I would also not be a bit surprised if the Celtics win in 6.
Indiana Pacers (3) vs. Atlanta Hawks (6) – Indiana in 5
Probably the most boring series of the first round. I don’t trust Josh Smith being a number one option on a playoff team. Indiana’s defense is too strong. Joe Johsnon is not walking through that door for Atlanta. I expect grinded-out, low-scoring, unbearably ugly games.
Brooklyn Nets (4) vs. Chicago Bulls (5) – Brooklyn in 7 (Chicago in 7 if Derrick Rose returns)
This is going to be a good one. Two of the toughest/most physical teams in the league. The Nets 1-2 combo of Deron Williams—who is paying out of his mind right now—and Joe Johnson—clutch player come playoff time–is a complete advantage over Chicago’s Nate Robinson and Kirk Hinrich duo. Luol Deng will have to play big-time, and Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer will have to dominate down-low and stop the best scoring center in the league in Brook Lopez. I’ll take the easy way out and say that home-court wins out.
Oklahoma City Thunder (1) vs. Houston Rockets (8) – OKC in 5
Five words: Kevin Durrant and Russell Westbrook. Houston will not score 106 ppg in this series, and James Harden cannot do everything else all by himself. OKC’s defense is much improved, while Houston defense is non-existent. I’ll give Houston’s explosive offense/Westbrook taking too many head-scratching shots one game, but that’s it.
San Antonio Spurs (2) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (7) – San Antonio in 5
I wish this series would be the same as it was ten years ago (No David Robinson, Shaq, Robert Horry, and in this case, Kobe Bryant). Lakers had a great inspirational run after they lost Kobe to get into the playoffs, but it’s too little too late. No Kobe no problem? No Kobe big problem. Tony Parker will run all over LA’s miserable defense. I’ll take Greg Papovich over Mike D’antoni all day, every day.
Denver Nuggets (3) vs. Golden State Warriors (6) – Denver in 6
Denver has lost 3 home games all year. ALL YEAR. They have home-court advantage; that should be enough for my case. They’re also 2nd in the league in scoring and rebounds per game. Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried is a freakishly athletic and talented combo, complemented by Andre Iguodala’s defense. Outside of Steph Curry and David Lee, I’m not sure who else Golden State can trust.
L.A Clippers (4) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (5) – L.A in 7
I’d say this is one of the better first round matchups we have seen in a while. Both teams have made strides from last year and have become true contenders in the deep Western Conference. The Clippers don’t want to go home this early considering the type of season they’ve had, and I don’t think Chris Paul will let them. I’ll take Paul and Griffin over any two Memphis has to offer.
Joey can be reached at [email protected]