First round NBA playoff predictions

Western Conference

(1)Golden State Warriors vs (8) Los Angeles Clippers

Will the Warriors finally face adversity in the first round? I think that it’s conceivable that the Warriors start the series off somewhat lackadaisical. The Warriors have developed a bad habit of underestimating their opponents and I think that will come back to bite them a bit in this series.

Since 2015 the Warriors have lost only two first-round games, (Spurs 2018, Pelicans 2015.)  As for the Clippers they’ve had a remarkable year exceeding expectations and then some.

Their roster consists of players that have underachieved, came together and developed chemistry, despite most of them being on one-year deals.

The Clippers have an underrated home crowd, but in order for the Clippers to beat the all-time great Golden State Warriors, they may need the Warriors to turn on each other. It’s possible we saw it happen in November in L.A. But still, I can’t. Warriors in 6

(2)Denver Nuggets vs (7)SanAntonio Spurs

Does this really feel like a 2 vs 7? Only 6 games separate these two teams. The Spurs have been on a roll since the All-star break whereas the Nuggets have simply been keeping afloat.

The Spurs record would have been much better, had it not been for their early-season growing pains, now the Spurs know who they are, and have found their identity.

Demar DeRozan now has a fresh start, with much less playoff pressure on him than before, I expect him to have a good series. Outside of Paul Millsap and Isaiah Thomas, the Nuggets have zero playoff experience. Veterans matter! I’ve got the Spurs in 6.    

(3)Portland Trail Blazers vs (6)Oklahoma City Thunder

Who needs this more? I’d say Portland needs this more. After all they are the higher seeded team, although they do have the Nurkic injury excuse to fall back on if they lose.

As far as the X’s and O’S go, I’m worried about the Thunder’s lack of scoring outside of Westbrook and George. The Thunder will be relying heavily on Terrence Furgason and Jeremi Grant to knock down their open threes. And will need to hope that Schroeder can improve off of his 33% 3pt shooting from the regular season.

This will be a classic battle of offence vs defence (Blazers top 3 offence,) vs (OKC’s top 5 defence.) I think homecourt advantage will make the slightest difference in this one. Blazers in 7.

(4)Houston Rockets vs (5) Utah Jazz

A rematch from last year. The Rockets will target Ruddy Gobert in allot of high pick and rolls with Clint Capela and James Harden.

Capela was a force last postseason on especially on defence vs the Jazz. Joe Ingles, in particular, had a hard time getting his shot off against Capela.

If you’re Utah this is not the matchup you wanted in the first round, most likely the winner of this series will get the Warriors next.

I think the Rockets are poised for a long postseason run getting out of the first round shouldn’t be too hard for them Rockets in 5.  

Eastern Conference

(1)Milwaukee Bucks vs (8)Detriot Pistons

Are the Bucks the real deal? By all accounts, The Bucks should advance to the second round, however it will be interesting to see how Eric Bledsoe performs this postseason, given his underwhelming play last year.

If the Pistons are to have any chance Blake Griffen and Andre Drummond will need to be the 2nd and 3rd best players on the court at all times. Reggie Jackosn may have his moments in this series, but he’s a bit underqualified to carry his team to 4 victories over a 60 win team.

Don’t forget about having to deal with Giannis, the Pistons are extremely thin at small forward, who’s going to guard him? Wayne Ellington? Or maybe Thon Maker? Who knows maybe Thon Maker will have a breakout series and get revenge on his former team for trading him.

Yeah, sorry I tried, but I just don’t see it. Bucks in 4

(2)Toronto Raptors vs (7)Orlando Magic

If you’ve ever watched Orlando play this season, you’d know that comparing them too the old Spurs is not as far fetched as it may seem.

Every now and again they’ll have a possession where you’ll go, “Oh wow that was really good ball movement, they look like the Spurs out there.”

Obviously, they’re a lesser version of the old Spurs, I didn’t mean to disrespect Spurs fans in any way. But the principals are the same. Other than Terrence Ross, the Magic don’t care who scores or who leads their team in points. They understand the importance of playing collectively on both ends of the floor.

If this were the old Raptors they were facing I would be tempted to pick the Magic, but unfortunately, for Orlando, this Raptors team has gotten a lot more disciplined, faster, smarter and just plain better from a year ago. Raps in 5

(3)Philadelphia 76ers vs (6)Brooklyn Nets

This is a case of raw talent vs cohesiveness. I think you can guess which team is which. We’re not really sure how much the 76ers really like each other, and we’re not sure if Brett Brown is even a good coach.

But, Joel Emiedd, Jimmy Butler, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris are all really good at basketball so it shouldn’t matter.

On the bright side for the Nets Caris Levert is healthy again and ready to go. He’s definitely a good young player, but adding him doesn’t put Brooklyn over the top.

This series has the potential to get chippy and it will be exciting to watch Russell go at these guys. But, still, the Nets are way to young, they’ve already exceeded their expectations this year. 76ers in 5.

(4)Boston Celtics vs (5)Indiana Pacers

My concern with the Celtics over the last couple of years has never been their talent. I’ve always been more concerned about the characters that they’ve brought in.

When you consistently draft players that are just not good human beings this is what you wind up with. A self-righteous, entitled, me first locker room.

The good teams, in my opinion, know that having the perfect mix of veterans and young players is vital for a teams success. In the big 3 era, Danny’s teams for years were considered too old, now the total opposite is true.

Danny must have learned from that time that you don’t ever want to be too old. But he seems to have gone overboard on his “you can never have enough picks philosophy.”

It seems as if Danny is playing 2k with the moves he’s making. he’s lost the human side of this, which is odd considering he’s a former player. Trading a great human being in Avery Bradley for Marcus Morris. Was just as bad as ditching Isaiah in my mind.

Nevertheless, as much as I’m a hater Celtics in 6.

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