[He.Got.Game] Tee Little First Round NBA Predictions
Basketball fans everywhere had been waiting for this past weekend since Christmas, when the regular season tipped off due to the “infamous” lockout. This past weekend left basketball fans with a feeling of every emotion, sadness when the reigning MVP Derrick Rose and stellar rookie Iman Shumpert went down for the rest of the season with torn ACLs. Admiration when KD hit his second game winner of the year against the Mavs in the closing seconds to take the series lead 1-0. Lebron gave every Heat fan a reason to gloat after that 100-67 destruction of the New York Knicks, and the Clippers gave every fan that missed that 27-point comeback a feeling of disbelief. However, don’t get carried away after one game, this is a best-of-seven series so take it one game at a time. Below are my predictions for all of the first round series.
Eastern Conference First Round Matchup Prediction
1. Bulls vs. 8. 76ers
If you’ve been around any television, computer, or cell phone in the last 48 hours you probably heard or seen the play that ended Derrick Rose’s playoffs this year. My heart goes out to Derrick Rose, he embodies what a NBA player should be, with his character, and humbleness. However, the playoffs will go on without him, and honestly I feel that the Bulls will beat the Sixers without Rose. The Bulls have played without Rose the majority of the games this season due to injuries and boasted a 18-9 record, so I feel John Lucas III and C.J. Watson are well prepared for this next challenge. I don’t want to judge the 76ers by game one alone, but they looked putrid, they just don’t belong on the same court as the Bulls. With talent like Jrue Holiday, and Andre Iguodala, I do think they can pull out 2 games though. Prediction= Bulls 4, 76ers, 2
2. Heat vs. 7. Knicks
After a horrible showing in his last playoff series handing the title to Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs, Lebron made sure we were all “witnesses” in the Heat’s first game this playoff against the Knicks. He shut down my favorite player Melo, while outscoring the Knicks starting lineup. I must admit, coming into the playoffs I thought the Knicks had a good chance of upsetting a top seed like the Bulls, or Heat. However, that went out the window when rookie and lockdown defender Iman Shumpert went down with a torn ACL. While most people don’t see Shumpert as a big loss to a star-studded Knicks team, Shumpert had the role of locking down the opposing team’s best player every game and most games he did. As much as I hate to say this, I see the Knicks only winning one game this series, yet being competitive in all games. Prediction= Heat 4, Knicks 2
3. Pacers vs. 6. Magic
This is one of the more overlooked first round series because of the lack of stars in the series. In Game 1, the Pacers handed the game and home court advantage to the Magic. Even though the Magic was able to escape Game 1 I expect the Pacers to come out strong Game 2 and the rest of the series to send the Dwight Howard-less Magic back to Orlando. The only reason I would second-guess the Pacers is because of the lack of a star or go-to-guy. Granger is very inconsistent, but that problem shouldn’t show up in this series. Prediction= Pacers 4, Magic 2
4. Hawks vs. 5. Celtics
Down a game and losing your best player to a one game suspension is a very big deal for the vintage Boston Celtics. However, I just don’t have any faith in the Atlanta Hawks relying on Josh Smith or the overrated Joe Johnson to be their best player.They’ve let me down too much in the past to choose them now against proven vets like Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett. I don’t expect the Celtics to win game two in Atlanta without Rondo, but I do expect them to win the rest. Prediction= Celtics 4, Hawks 2
Western Conference First Round Matchups
1. Spurs vs. 8. Jazz
The Spurs are the most boring team in the NBA, but had the best record in the NBA this season. The bottom tier of the Western Conference teams gave up on the season vying for a spot in the lottery. In result, the Utah Jazz were thrown in the last spot in the playoffs. While this was a bright spot for their franchise, what happens in this series won’t be. SKUNK! SWEPT! The Spurs top to bottom has the best roster in the playoffs with reserves like Stephen Jackson, and Boris Diaw. So I’m looking forward to the next series, Spurs vs. Lakers. Prediction: Spurs 4, Jazz None.
2. Thunder vs. 7. Mavericks
This series is one of the more compelling first round series of the playoffs. While most fans want to chalk up the Thunder as the new powerhouse of the Western conference, you might want to go back and look at the Thunder and Mavericks series last year. Two words: Dirk Nowitzki. In the first game the Mavericks were in control for 39 of the 40 minute game, the Thunder went on a quick scoring run and a buzzer beater by Kevin Durant saw the Thunder take game one. If I’m a Thunder fan that would scare me. The Thunder don’t have a answer for Dirk, and when will Russell Westbrook self-destruct? Not this series. That being said, Thunder will come out this series for a rematch with the Grizz? Prediction: Thunder 4, Mavs 3
3. Lakers vs. 6. Nuggets
The absence of Ron Artest didn’t affect the Lakers in the first game of the series. Andrew Bynum and the Lakers was able to do anything they wanted to do against the Nuggets in game one winning convincingly. However, I don’t expect Ty Lawson to play as horrible as he did in game one so I expect the next couple of games to be more competitive. Competitive? Yes. But do I expect the Nuggets to win this series no. I don’t expect the Lakers to sweep the Nuggets because of age, and the Nuggets are a very uptempo team running at any chance they get. The Nuggets have the greatest home court advantage with the altitude in Denver, so they should be able to pull one out at home. Prediction: Lakers 4, Nuggets 2.
4. Grizzlies vs. 5. Clippers
I’m still shaking my head at the Grizzlies giving up a 27-point lead in the fourth quarter. Before the playoffs had started I felt that whoever was matched with the Grizzlies in the first round would go home but seeing them give up that lead, and the health of Zach Randolph is beginning to scare me. While the Grizzlies were able to make a long run in the playoffs without one of their top players Rudy Gay, they won’t be able to do that without Zach Randolph. However, the Clippers have injury problems of their own. Caron Butler will be sidelined for the rest of the season after breaking his hand in game one. So now I’m faced with the question do you go with the best point guard in the NBA, in Chris Paul or the best defensive unit in the NBA, in the Grizzlies? That being said, I`m sold on the Grizz. Plus I want to see a Thunder/ Grizz rematch. Prediction: Grizz 4, Clippers 3.
Written by: Trent Little [@_TeeLittle on twitter]