It’s finally here. The NBA playoffs kick off today! Of course we had to wait until the last day of the season to find out what some of the match up would be.
With the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder’s vacation starting early this year, we will miss out on a bit of NBA style from fashion favs Russell Westbrook and Dwyane Wade. But no worries, we’ve got James Harden and LeBron James to make sure we’re still on point.
Golden State Warriors (1) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (8)
One of the most exciting additions to this season’s playoffs will be New Orleans Pelicans forward/center, Mr. Do it all, Anthony Davis. The Pelicans – still a trash name – are facing off against the Golden State Warriors and should be a fun series to watch. Expect Davis to show you why he’s the next generation’s superstar, and why he’ll be the best player in the L in a few years. Warriors over Pelicans in 5. I wouldn’t mind if it went to six, just so the national stage can see more of Davis, but I’m sure Chef Curry’s “flick a da wrist” will have something to say about that.
Houston Rockets (2) vs. Dallas Mavericks (7)
This intrastate Texas rivalry should be a fun match up. Last season the Mavs took the Spurs to seven games. James Harden has been on fire this season! Locked in an almost dead heat for MVP between James, Steph Curry and Russell Westbrook (although the Thunder missing the playoffs knocked Russ from consideration for many.) The other battle to be on the look out for, the one between Rockets GM Daryl Morey and Mavs owner Mark Cuban. Those guys have had past Twitter beef, so there could be some fun social media foolishness too. Rockets over Mavs in 6
Los Angeles Clippers (3) vs. San Antonio Spurs (6)
Ok, if you’ve been reading the site for awhile, you know I’m a Clippers (and Lakers don’t question it) fan. CP3 has had a great season, DeAndre Jordan is in contention for Defensive Player of the Year. Blake has expanded his game beyond dunks, and has developed some toughness… but they’re are playing a tricky Spurs team. Spurs and gonna Spur – I’m not sure what that means exactly, but I know you can’t count them out. These two are teams have been rolling since the All-Star break back in February. But for some reason, I felt like my Clipps aren’t quite dialed in this season. Nevertheless, Clippers over Spurs in 6
Portland Trailblazers (4) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (5)
Last year I counted the Blazers out early. They came out and shocked the world, knocking the Houston Rockets out in the first round, before having a clinic put on them by the Spurs. One thing I’ve learned is not to count out the heart of Blazers point guard Damien Lillard. He has a chip on his shoulder, and he’s fearless. Plus he’s known to hit amazing buzzer beaters regularly.
But Dame has been not as spectacular since his all-star snub. Dame ended up playing in the contest anyway due to injury, but he hasn’t been as impressive since the break. The Blazers are also dealing with an injury bug – something that seems to plague the franchise every few years- losing Wesley Mathews, who was deadly with the “3” and a great defender. Meanwhile the Griz are dealing with their own injury problems, the difference for them, home court advantage. The Blazers won their division, but the Griz have four more wins than them this season. So the Blazers will hit the road. That to me will be the difference, Grizzlies over Blazers in 7
Atlanta Hawks (1) vs. Brooklyn Nets (8)
If you haven’t watched basketball this season, the fact that the Hawks are the number one seed in the east is probably a shocker. The Hawks set franchise records this season, reeling off 19 wins in a row. You’re probably used to the Hawks of the past with Joe Johnson (now on the other side playing for the Nets) but this team lives off of their lowkey status. This season they’ve incorporated a Spurs-like offense, thanks to head coach Mike Budenholzer, who is a product of Gregg Popovich’s coaching system. I have Hawks over Nets in 5 :: GASP:: Sorry, I don’t believe in the Nets…
Cleveland Cavaliers (2) vs. Boston Celtics (7)
The Celtics are back in the playoffs? After years of trying to rebuild, the Celts have pulled together a nice mix of pieces that earned them a seventh seed in a weaker Eastern conference. Quick, name the Celtics star player… you probably can’t. Me neither, does that sound like we have round two expectations for the Celtics?
The Cavs looked shaky early in the season. Of course, with so many new pieces, it takes time to build chemistry. But in my opinion, there were two key events that turned the season around for the Cavs. First, LeBron’s two week vacation at the end of 2014, start of 2015, and the trades that brought the Cavs JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Timofey Mozgov. It’s really a no-brainer, Cavs over Celtics in 5
Chicago Bulls (3) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (6)
First, let me keep it 100. I can’t recall watching a Bucks game this season. But all praise do to head coach Jason Kidd. The sophomore coach jumped ship from the Nets after his first season as an NBA head coach – he took them to the playoffs as well – and then did it again with his new team. The Bucks went from 15-67 last season to 41-41. Kudos JKidd.
After watching “The Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo during All-Star weekend, I’m curious to see how he performs when the pressure is on. The return of Derrick Rose to the playoffs is what everyone is waiting for. Plus, the hot hand of Jimmy Butler, and in my opinion, the heart and soul of the Bulls – and one of my fav players, and messy bun icon – Joakim Noah. Bulls over Bucks in 5
Toronto Raptors (4) vs. Washington Wizards (5)
This is honestly the only first round match up in the east that I’m interested in watching. Both teams are led by All-Star point guards, Toronto’s Kyle Lowry and Washington’s John Wall. The Raps also have potential “Sixth man of the Year” in Lou Williams, whose had a career year this season – both on and off the court, ask Drake – but I think the edge goes to the Wizards this year. Wizards over Raptors in 7
Not that you’re all dialed in the match ups. Check out the schedule for he first round HERE