By Sean Simara @Sean_FootyMad @TLE_Sport
We have finally reached the NBA playoff s. Here’s the lowdown on the first round match-ups and who I think will get to the NBA finals. Remember, it’s the best out of seven each series and the higher ranked team have home court advantage.
Eastern Conference First Round
(1) Atlanta Hawks vs. (8) Brooklyn Nets
The Atlanta Hawks ending up as the number one seed from the east was quite surprising. I would have thought Cleveland or Chicago would top the list, but let’s not take anything away from the Hawks. They are very strong at home (35-6) and I don’t think they will have any problems against the Brooklyn Nets.
Atlanta to sweep it 4-0
(2) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (7) Boston Celtics
This is where the pressure really starts for Cleveland. They were expected to win the east and they are expected to make it to the final. Can they? Lebron James will need Kyrie Irving to be on MVP form now which he is more than capable of. Watching the Cavs’ will be exciting as so there is so much expectation on their shoulders. Will they get it right?
Cleveland to win this 4-1
(3) Chicago Bulls vs. (6) Milwaukee Bucks
Jason Kidd has turned things around at the Milwaukee Bucks from last year and they are now one of the better defensive teams in the NBA. I think they will push Chicago all the way but the Bulls have a contender for rookie of the year (Nikola Mirotic), as well as a former MVP (Derrick Rose) and an experienced coach in Tom Thibodeau.
Bulls win this one 4-2
(4) Toronto Raptors vs. (5) Washington Wizards
I think this one will go to the much loved game 7. The second half on the season both teams seemed to go through the motions however both know there’s a real chance of getting to the second round here. I think the Raptors have a better roster and the likes of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry will get them through.
Raptors win 4-3
Western Conference First Round
(1) Golden State Warriors vs. (8) New Orleans Pelicans
Golden State Warriors stormed through the west with it was some special basketball. Lead by the regular season MVP Stephen Curry, who pips it for me just from James Harden, he will have pressure on him to deliver here. I firmly believe he will and I can see them getting at least to the Western Conference final.
Golden State make a statement with a 4-0 win
(2) Houston Rockets vs. (7) Dallas Mavericks
Texas will be rocking for this ‘derby game’ in the NBA. The Dallas Mavericks will fancy their chances here; you can’t ignore their recent history and with players like Dirk Nowitzki, Rajon Rondo and one of my favourites Chandler Parsons, they have a chance. Looking at the Rockets though, James Harden has been sensational this year and if one player can carry a team through the playoffs, Harden can. He can take over a game at any time when he starts ‘cooking’.
A fun one – Rockets see it out 4-2
(3) L.A. Clippers vs. (6) San Antonio Spurs
This will be the best series out of the round one matches. The defending champions have had somewhat of a quite year and they find themselves with a tricky challenge to defend their title. LA is Lakers City. The Clippers’ team is far superior but the city is still purple & yellow. The only way to change that will be winning the West. It will be hard but I’m going for my first upset of sorts here.
LA Clippers win 4-3
(4) Portland Trail Blazers vs. (5) Memphis Grizzlies
Memphis are a team to avoid. Their Southwest division is tough, but they did finish above the Spurs, Mavericks and Pelicans. The Trail Blazers though should have enough to get past Memphis and progress to the next round.
Portland to win here 4-3
For more from Sean visit his football blog threeminutesinjurytime.blogspot.co.uk and follow him on twitter @Sean_FootyMad