Don't let the crappy season put together by the Sixers fool you, this has been a pretty entertaining year in the NBA. We've had stars like Kevin Durant emerge as superstars, we've had a bevy of impressive rookies and LeBron James has put together another MVP season. Sure, your hometown Sixers couldn't muster up enough talent to continue their annual ritual of barely squeaking into the playoffs but that doesn't mean there won't be plenty to watch for in the coming weeks. Here's hoping we finally get that Cavs/Lakers final that's been hinted at for the last few years.
Here are my first round predictions with a quick thought on each series:
Lakers (1) vs. Thunder (8)
Lakers in 6
In just two short years, this could be the Western Conference Finals. Much will be made of the Kobe vs. Durant match-up in this series but remember that they won't be guarding each other. I like the the Thunder to make things interesting for a few games but ultimately they can't match the Lakers experience.
Mavericks (2) vs. Spurs (7)
Mavericks in 6
The battle for Texas should be a good one; the addition of Caron Butler should push the Mavs over the top. If anyone is going to knock out the Lakers in the West, it's going to be Dallas.
Suns (3) vs. Blazers (6)
Suns in 5
The loss of Brandon Roy kills what could have been a great series. How much must it piss off Shaq that the Suns have already gone further without him?
Nuggets (4) vs. Jazz (5)
Jazz in 7
A few months ago I would have said the Nuggets had a shot to knock off the Lakers and get to the NBA Finals. Now they look like first round fodder for a Utah team that can keep up with the Nuggets offensively and has enough defense to make some stops.
Cavs (1) vs. Bulls (8)
Cavs in 5
Congratulations, Bulls, for getting in to the playoffs! Now, meet your opponent, the best team in the NBA!
Magic (2) vs. Bobcats (7)
Magic in 6
Charlotte plays some of the best defense in the league, which gives them a shot against Orlando. Unfortunately, this Magic team has their sights set on getting back to the NBA Finals and they won't let an inexperienced Bobcats team slow them down.
Hawks (3) vs. Bucks (6)
Hawks in 5
Oh, what could've been. Without Andrew Bogut, the Bucks hype machine died a quick death. There just isn't enough else on this Bucks team to keep up with Atlanta.
Celtics (4) vs. Heat (5)
Heat in 7
Stick a fork in 'em, the Celtics are dead. This pick isn't so much an indication that the Heat are good, it's more of a statement about how awful Boston has been down the stretch.
Those are my picks for the first round of the NBA Playoffs. Let me know if you agree or disagree!