(1) Chicago Bulls vs. (8) Philadelphia 76ers:
The top-seeded Bulls come in with quite a resume. They won 50 games in a shortened NBA season and beat out the Miami Heat for the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. What is even more astounding is the fact the Bulls played a significant part of the season without their Superstar Derek Rose. Rose seems to be as healthy as he has been all season and that is bad news for the Philadelphia 76ers who lose this series in 5 games.
The Chicago Bulls defeat the Philadelphia 76ers 4-1
(2) Miami Heat vs. (7) New York Knicks:
These teams look to rekindle their rivalry and will do that without a doubt. This is, by far the most interesting series in the first round. The Knicks have the potential to beat the Heat, but will they put it all together? New York puts pressure on its team, but Miami has pressure from the whole country. Lebron James is the best player on either team and that is why I am picking the Heat in 7 games.
The Miami Heat defeat the New York Knicks 4-3.
*NOTE* Some videos from the Heat-Knicks rivalry of the 90's are shown below.
(3) Indiana Pacers vs. (6) Orlando Magic
This series is between two teams heading in the opposite directions. The young, upstart Indiana Pacers who play so well together are going up against a team whose best player let them down all season and ended it by getting hurt before the playoffs started. Dwight Howard isn't playing for Orlando in this series and since I don't want to dedicate this post to him, I just want to say the Magic are in trouble. They are playing an Indiana team who has all the pieces necessary to make noise in the playoffs this season: inside scoring and rebounding, very good defense and shooters on the outside. They will do just that by beating the Howard-less Magic in 5 games.
The Indiana Pacers defeat the Orlando Magic 4-1.
(4) Atlanta Hawks vs. (5) Boston Celtics
This Atlanta Hawks team always seems to get a bad matchup in the first round. They just aren't good enough to compete with the big time playoff teams. With that being said, do the Celtics have enough in the tank for one more championship run? I am not totally sold on them, but Rajon Rondo is the best player on either team and the Hawks are without Forward Al Horford. Boston takes this series in 6 games.
The Boston Celtics defeat the Atlanta Hawks 4-2.
(1) San Antonio Spurs vs. (8) Utah Jazz
This is the typical 1 versus 8 matchup we are all accustomed to. The Utah Jazz played their way into the playoffs and that's great for them and for the City of Utah. Hopefully someone has told them that their dream is about to come to an end. The too often referred to as "old" Spurs looked poised and ready to make a run at the title. They will get through the first round without much resistance and knock of the Jazz in 5 games.
The San Antonio Spurs defeat the Utah Jazz 4-1.
(2) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (7) Dallas Mavericks:
The Thunder are coming off of a breakout regular season. However, they stumbled at the end of it and gave up their grip on the top seed in the Western Conference. That was a critical mistake because now they are facing the Mavericks who knocked them off last year en route to their first NBA Championship. Dallas is a team that struggled throughout the season and excluding last year, they have been eliminated from the playoffs early. They will get back to their old ways, but not without a fight. The Thunder take this series in 7 games.
The Oklahoma City Thunder defeat the Dallas Mavericks 4-3.
(3) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (6) Denver Nuggets
The Lakers come into this series as an NBA Finals darkhorse. But, can any team from Los Angeles be considered a darkhorse? They have two seven-footers that must do their job for their team to make a run. The Denver Nuggets are a solid team; however, they do not have a star. The NBA is a star driven league and when there is two minutes left, the Lakers have a guy who can deliver with Kobe Bryant. The Nuggets are missing that guy and that is going to keep them from advancing. Los Angeles takes the series in 6 games.
The Los Angeles Lakers defeat the Denver Nuggets 4-2.
(4) Memphis Grizzlies vs. (5) Los Angeles Clippers
This series is a toss-up in my mind. Memphis played very well in last year's playoffs, but can they duplicate that performace? Los Angeles hasn't been to the playoffs in a while, but their leader has been in many playoff duels. Chris Paul is the best point guard in the league, but for the Clippers to win this game they will need someone else to step up down the stretch. Mo Williams could be a Jason Terry kind of player and help this team pull off the upset in 7 games.
The Los Angeles Clippers defeat the Memphis Grizzlies 4-3.