The Playoffs officially get kicked off Saturday. The Standings are final and the seedings and matchups are set. I'll predict how I think the 1st round of the playoffs will play out.
1. San Antonio Spurs vs. 8. Utah Jazz
Prediction: Spurs 4-0
Analysis: The Spurs should rap this series up pretty easily. It's no secret I'm a Spurs fan but I promise you this isn't blind allegiance on my part I just don't think the Jazz are anywhere near on the level of the Spurs especially the way their playing of late. They've been rolling through inferior teams all year and I don't expect this series to be any different. The Jazz are 21st in defensive efficiency and the Spurs are the best offensive team in the league. The Jazz frontline is too small to really bother the Spurs the way Memphis did last year and they don't have much on the perimeter to brag about besides Hayward. Devin Harris is a sad shell of his former self and Parker should have his way with him. The Jazz only hope in this series is if Al Jefferson plays out of his mind and somehow plays like a superstar.
4. Memphis Grizzlies vs. 5. Los Angles Clippers
Prediction: Grizzlies 4-3
Analysis: This should be one of the better series in the 1st round but I think Memphis is gonna take this one. They have the better overall team even though the Clippers have the best individual player in the series. If Zach Randolph is fully healthy and ready to go Blake Griffin doesn't stand a chance. Mike Conley is one of the best defensive PGs in the league and not saying he will stop CP3 but maybe he can slow him down and make him work harder than he's accustomed to. The Clippers often struggle in the half court and the Grizzlies are 7th in defensive efficiency so that doesn't help matters for LA. Blake's offensive game is unreliable and inconsistent and he's the guy their gonna be leaning on as their 2nd option. I think the Grizzlies bench is gonna dominate the Clippers 2nd Unit as well because they just have more depth and a better bench. Chris Paul usually takes his game too another level in the playoffs and because of that their gonna push Memphis to the brink and could even win the series but I just don't think the Clippers team is good enough to win this matchup.
3. Los Angles Lakers vs. 6. Denver Nuggets
Prediction: Lakers 4-2
Analysis: This series should get entertaining but the Nuggets are just too small to beat this Laker team. They start Faried at the 4 and play Harrington significant minutes off the bench at the 4 as well and both guys are under 6'10. I think the Lakers best bet would be to go to Gasol more than they have been in this series because he's gonna have a huge mismatch. Also Javale McGee, tho athletic and and long, just isn't a polished player on either end of the floor and Bynum should be able to have his way with him as well. The one issue the Lakers are gonna face is Ty Lawson. The Lakers have struggled to stop fast PGs all year and Lawson is one of the fastest in the game and him and this team as a whole does have a speed advantage on LA and I believe it will help them get 2 wins in Den and make it a competitive series.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder vs. 7. Dallas Mavericks
Prediction: Thunder 4-1
Analysis: I think some of the games in this series are gonna be really good but this should be a short series. The Mavs have been inconsistent all year and currently aren't playing their best ball. They've slipped to the 7 seed and now have to deal with one of the championship contenders right off the bat. Shawn Marion is having a great year defensively but there's only gonna be so much he can do with Durant. Meanwhile they have absolutely no guards that can defend Westbrook or Harden. Also Ibaka length and athleticism might bother dirk a little as I don't think he's the player he was last year when he led the Mavs to the finals. The Mavericks aren't the team from last year and their just not good enough to make any noise this year.
1. Chicago Bulls vs. 8. Philadelphia 76ers
Prediction: Bulls 4-1
Analysis: Defensively these are probably the best two teams in the NBA so this should be one of those grind it out physical and ugly playoff series. With that said the Bulls are just better than the Sixers offensively. I think Rose trying to work himself back into rhythm could open the door for Philly to sneak in a win but ultimately The Bulls will still come out on top. Rose won't have it easy against the long, quick, and solid on ball defending Holliday who's also about 6'4. Also if Rose gets hot they can put Iggy on him too. I just don't think the Sixers offensively are good enough to really beat this Bulls team with the way they defend.
4. Boston Celtics vs. 5. Atlanta Hawks
Prediction: Boston 4-2
Analysis: The Hawks have not ever been able to best Boston and this year will be no different. Defensively the Celtics are gonna stifle the Hawks who often use alot of Isolation which is just to easy for the Celtics defend. Teague is the starting PG for the Hawks and not only is he a bad decision maker which isn't good in a 7 game series against the Celtics he's also not a great defender and Rondo should have his way with him getting in the paint and creating for his teammates. The Hawks homecourt advantage in the playoffs is real however and their a really good defensive team overall in their own right and because of that and the energy they play with at home will allow them to win a couple games in this series.
3. Indiana Pacers vs. 6. Orlando Magic
Prediction: Pacers 4-0
Analysis: Dwight Howard isn't going to play in the playoffs which basically means the Magic team that takes the floor could be possibly the worst playoff team of all time at least in recent memory. Forget superstars there isn't even an all star caliber player anywhere in sight for the Magic. The Pacers are a top 10 defensive team with great size and length and the all the Magic are gonna be able to do all game is run pick and roll and a lot of predictable off ball screens that probably won't give the Pacers too much trouble. Defensively without Dwight this team is nothing. the Pacers should have their way with the Magic on both ends and sweep easily. I'm expecting 3 blowouts and I say the Magic keep it under 10 in game 4 and play extra hard since it'll be their last game.
2. Miami Heat vs. 7. New York Knicks
Prediction: Knicks 4-3
Analysis: Lebron James is the MVP, the Heat have the big 3, and I myself have been saying all year the Heat would win the East. However just like the Spurs last season I think the Heat are just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Wade has been nagged by minor injuries all year, Chris Bosh currently has a minor hamstring injury, and to be quite honest these games will be close and Lebron hasn't showed me anything all season that would suggest he can come through in the clutch. Not to mention the fact that the Knicks have a huge size advantage, can easily match the Heat when they go with Lebron at the 4, and have a way better bench. To say the Heat are going to get man handled on the boards by the Knicks might just be a understatement. Chandler dominated the Heat inside defensively and on the boards in the finals and I think he can do it again for the Knicks. With Chandler closing off the paint we might see Wade and Lebron settling for jumpers and becoming overly passive which could really hurt them. I think often in this series were going to see the Heat start off better than the Knicks. Then Lebron will go to the bench and that's when the Knicks 2nd unit is gonna close the gap because their just simply better than the Heat's. I hope the Heat win this series and you'll see me pulling for the Heat to win on twitter but I just don't trust this Heat team right now. The Knicks finally are buying in on defense and there's not a man alive that can stop Carmelo Anthony. It wouldn't surprise me at all if the Heat win this series 4-2 because Lebron or Wade just goes off. But I'm going out on a limb and going with my heart over my head and I'm saying the Knicks beat the Heat.