Matt’s Minute

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By MATT McCORMACK

STAFF WRITER

After 82 games spread out over roughly five and a half months, the NBA season all comes down to the highly anticipated playoffs.  There are many intriguing first round matchups, so without further ado I present my first round predictions (granted, I’m writing this after the end of day one of the playoffs, but I promise that these are still my original picks).

Heat-Bucks: Heat in four.  Do I really have to explain this one?  Let me put it this way: Remember when the Knicks dropped confetti after beating the Heat in game four of the first round last year? The Bucks should throw a ticker-tape parade if they match that feat.

Knicks-Celtics: Knicks in five.  Although Boston is a formidable opponent, the Knicks played one of their worst all-around games on Saturday and still won.  Look for Boston to steal one at home, but Melo, J.R. and company will be too much for the aging (and Rondo-less) Celtics to handle.

Pacers-Hawks: Pacers in five. It astounds me how the rebuilding Hawks managed to get the sixth seed; it really is a testament to the parity in the Eastern Conference.  Even a Pacers team without Danny Granger will be able to beat Atlanta in a relatively comfortable fashion.

Bulls-Nets: Nets in seven. If only the Bulls were playing the Heat or the Knicks in the first round, they would surely have a much easier time. After a truly terrible performance in game one, the Bulls have cemented their reputation as a team that plays down (or up) to the level of their competition. I cannot see them getting blown out each game like they did on Saturday, even though the news that Derrick Rose will miss the playoffs must have been debilitating (although not entirely surprising).

Thunder-Rockets: Thunder in five.  This will admittedly be one of the most fascinating one-eight matchups in recent memory, with James Harden facing his former team. The Rockets deserve better than to play a juggernaut Thunder team, but such is the life in the brutal Western Conference.

Spurs-Lakers: Spurs in six. Kobe’s presence would have evened the competitive balance in this series; without him, however, I just don’t see the Spurs succumbing to this Lakers group. They simply lack chemistry, proving that putting a bunch of highly talented individuals together does not equal instant success. If anything, this team validates the success that LeBron, Wade and Bosh have achieved in Miami.

Grizzlies-Clippers: Clippers in six.  Basketball is the one sport where good offense beats good defense.  The Clippers’ explosive offense will overwhelm the Grizzlies’ vaunted defense.  Simple as that.

Nuggets-Warriors: Warriors in seven. Yes, they lost game one, but it took 28 points from possibly the most underrated point guard in the league, Andre Miller.  With the many injuries that Denver faces, they are very vulnerable. Stephen Curry is one of the most dynamic players in the game, and the team actually seemed to play better after David Lee got injured.  Hey, I had to pick an upset somewhere, right?

 

Matt McCormack