Armstrong: Predicting the first round of the NBA Playoffs

Jack Armstrong
4/18/2013 1:14:58 PM
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NBA First Round Playoff Picks

My favourite time of year: The NBA Playoffs. The only thing better would be if the Toronto Raptors could be in it - one of these years, fingers crossed. Here are my quick picks.

Considering how lousy I did on my March Madness Pool I need my head examined for even trying to pick these. Oh well, it's all in good fun. Enjoy the next eight weeks of NBA Playoffs action.

Western Conference:

(1)Oklahoma City vs. (8)Houston: James Harden will carry his team on a few nights but OKC has too much firepower. Entertaining games though - lots of running and offence. Thunder in 6.

(2)San Antonio vs. (7)L.A. Lakers: No Kobe, no shot. Banged up Lakers will find a way to get a W in this series because their Big's (Howard and Gasol) will wear down the Spurs inside but too much depth and chemistry from the Spurs will take over this series. Spurs in 5.

(3)Denver vs. (6)Golden State: Get your neck brace on - these teams will be flying up and down the court. Flow, passing, skill and team play will be on display in abundance in this series. I like the Nuggets depth as the series goes along is spite of their injury issues. Nuggets in 7.

(4)L.A. Clippers vs. (5)Memphis: Mild upset here. Love the front court of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Clippers are shaky up front defensively. Love the Clippers' second unit and of course, Chris Paul. Memphis plays Playoff-style basketball every game and I think they have what it takes here in a hard fought match-up. Grizzlies in 7.

Eastern Conference:

(1)Miami vs. (8)Milwaukee: Heat are just too good. Bucks have looked awful down the stretch. Bucks will likely win one when Heat lose interest for a game but this one won't last long. A two-week tune up for the Heat before the games get a bit tougher. Heat in 5.

(2)New York vs. (7)Boston: Too much Melo - he'll see a load of hard/physical double-teams in this series. Can the old guys KG & Paul Pierce muster up some big-time games? Yes, sure. But simply put the Knicks are playing at a higher level right now and this is when you want to be and need to be at your best. Knicks in 6.

(3)Indiana vs. (6)Atlanta: I'm curious to see if any of these games sell out, particularly in Atlanta (lousy hoops market). This series won't get many folks excited. I love the Pacers' toughness and defence. They play a slow/physical tempo suited for the Playoffs. Josh Smith is a free agent-to-be and has to have the series of a lifetime to get his team to the second round. Pacers in 6.

(4)Brooklyn vs. (5)Chicago: Don't count out the Bulls. They have days off between games to rest up, and they will be a load to deal with and a tough out. Huge pressure on the Nets to win this series. Lots of expectations here and in many ways, they're unrealistic. Back court of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson must dominate to win here. Bulls have been there and done that and I like their resiliency. Should be a fascinating series. Chicago's defence will dictate terms. Bulls in 7.

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