2014 NBA Playoff Predictions: First Round
In the East, the top-seeded Indiana Pacers look to not only dethrone the Miami Heat as Eastern Conference champions, but as NBA champions as well.
Meanwhile, in the West, there's a ton of intrigue surrounding just about every first round matchup, with the series between the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors gaining most of the national attention due to the bad blood between the two teams.
As always, there's sure to be a few surprises in round one, so the top teams in the league will need to be ready to take the lower-seeded teams' best shots.
But who will be crowned NBA champion come June? Let's predict how this post-season will unfold.
#1 Indiana Pacers vs. #8 Atlanta Hawks
Prediction: Despite the Pacers not playing their best basketball over the past several weeks, they won't have any trouble with the Hawks. I could see the Hawks stealing a game in Atlanta if the inconsistent Indiana team shows up, but this won't be much of a series.
#4 Chicago Bulls vs. #5 Washington Wizards
Prediction: Sure, the Wizards won the season series, but the playoffs are a different animal. Washington's resurgence has been nice to see, however, the Bulls are too talented to slip up in this spot. This won't go more than five.
#3 Toronto Raptors vs. #6 Brooklyn Nets
Prediction: If there's going to be a first round upset in the East, it's going to be here. The Nets have a roster filled with playoff experience, and the Raptors can't match that. This is a hard one to predict, but I'll take the Nets in a fantastic seven-game series.
#2 Miami Heat vs. #7 Charlotte Bobcats
Prediction: Congrats to the Bobcats for turning things around to make the playoffs. Unfortunately, their first round opponent is the Heat. Get out the broom.
#1 San Antonio Spurs vs. #8 Dallas Mavericks
Prediction: The Mavs could potentially make this interesting if they're shooting the ball well, but it's hard to pick against the Spurs. They were the best team in the league for a reason, and the big three and Kawhi Leonard will make quick work of Dallas here.
#4 Houston Rockets vs. #5 Portland Trail Blazers
Prediction: Talk about a fun series. Expect a high-scoring affair between these two teams, and it's difficult to give a strong prediction one way or the other. I think James Harden and Dwight Howard will be too much for Portland though, and the Rockets move on.
#3 Los Angeles Clippers vs. #6 Golden State Warriors
Prediction: This feels like an old school series because of the fact that these two teams simply don't like each other. There's a ridiculous amount of star power on the floor, so this will truly be a thrill to watch. But the Clippers are the better team, and they're on a mission for the franchise's first NBA title. Clips in six.
#2 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. #7 Memphis Grizzlies
Prediction: One thing we've learned over the years is to never count out the Grizzlies. This series could legitimately go seven, and you better believe that OKC will need to play its best basketball to win it. Thankfully, the Thunder have Kevin Durant, who should make the plays needed to help his team survive and advance.
Which series are you most looking forward to in the first round of the NBA playoffs? Let us know your choice by commenting below! For more NBA talk, follow FanIQ or myself on Twitter!