The Better Late Than Never NBA Playoff Round One Preview

I’m posting this late so hopefully you’ll excuse the lack of an intro.

Eastern Conference:

(1) Boston Celtics vs. (8) Chicago Bulls

This series has Rondo’s revenge and Celtics’ remorse written all over it.  Too bad the potential headlines are better than the actual series.  Jimmy Butler may show the Celtics what they‘re missing out on but whatever Rondo pulls out of his “hat” on offense will be no match for what he gives up on defense.  As for the Bulls ridiculous 20 game home win streak on TNT, I’m betting that comes to an end come Game 4 on Sunday, April 23rd.  These teams split their four regular season matchups but the Bulls are 0-3 against the Celtics in the playoffs.  Now there’s a streak that will continue:  Celtics in 6.

(2) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (7) Indiana Pacers

The Pacers won their last five regular season games to secure the seven seed in the East.  The sixth to last game?  A loss against the Cavaliers.  LeBron James has won 17 straight first round games with his last loss back in 2012.  Make it 21:  Cavaliers in 4.

(3) Toronto Raptors vs. (6) Milwaukee Bucks

Neither of these teams have had much playoff success.  The Raptors are 3-8 in playoff series with an overall record of 24-38.  The Bucks are 17-27 in playoff series with an overall record of 106-122 .  Unfortunately for the Raptors, they’ve had more playoff failure recently, losing in the first round in two of the last three years despite being the higher seed both years.  If the games are close, the Raptors will get tight.  The Bucks, on the other hand, are a young team and the lower seed.  They have nothing to lose.  I’m also betting Giannis Antetokounmpo is the best player on the floor for at least a few of these games.  Adding insult to injury, I recently confessed to a friend that I can’t name a single Drake song.  A Drake song was playing on the radio as I said it.  Shame on me.  In this series though, shame on the higher seeded Toronto Raptors:  Bucks in 6.

(4) Washington Wizards vs. (5) Atlanta Hawks

If this were March Madness then this would be easy:  Wizards in 4.  Why?  Because March Madness generally boils down to guard play and the Wizards have as good of guards as anyone in John Wall and Bradley Beal.  It’s not March Madness though and the Hawks have Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard to deal with down low.  Who are we kidding.  Howard averaged 13.5 points and 12.7 rebounds per game this year.  Not bad but nowhere near the 2010-11 season when he put up 22.0 points and 14.1 rebounds per game.  Millsap is the only Hawk scaring anyone and the Wizards added Markieff Morris last season with this type of matchup in mind.  I guess this is only slightly harder to predict than it would have been last month:  Wizards in 5.

Western Conference:

(1) Golden State Warriors vs. (8) Portland Trail Blazers

Golden State has Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green.  Portland has Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and a rejuvenated Jusuf Nurkic.  I’m not sure what it takes to qualify as a star in the NBA anymore but I know Curry, Durant, Thompson, and Green all do.  I’m also sure that McCollum and Nurkic don’t.  Lillard.  Well.  I’m honestly not sure.  You can call it East Coast bias all you want, I’ll call it:  Warriors in 4.

(2) San Antonio Spurs vs. (7) Memphis Grizzlies

Both of these teams are tough and disciplined.  They are also both boring.  So boring that having Game 1 on is actually helping me finish this post.  It’s also so boring that this series is a perfect time to remember that baseball season started.  Say you’re going to watch this series then grab a beer, open a window or door, and flip over to your local baseball broadcast.  You can thank me later.  Besides, you don’t need to watch this series now that you know how it’s going to end:  Spurs in 5.

(3) Houston Rockets vs. (6) Oklahoma City Thunder

In case you haven’t heard, the NBA has decided to wait until June 26th to announce this year’s MVP.  Last year the MVP was announced on May 10th.  June 26th is after the NBA Finals.  May 10th will most likely be during the second round.  While the second round sounds better than after the season, I have an even better idea:  announce the MVP now!  Not ready yet, NBA?  Fine.  Announce it at 7:59 PM ET on Sunday.  That’s one minute before the Rockets and Thunder tip off.  Will Russel Westbrook literally kill someone on the court if he loses.  Honestly?  Maybe.  While I wouldn’t root for that to happen, we would all tune in to find out if it did.  Instead:  Rockets in 6.

(4) LA Clippers vs. (5) Utah Jazz

Fans have been rooting for both squads to turn the corner for years but neither has followed through on their potential.  Yet, these teams feel like they are heading in opposite directions.  While both teams have struggled with injuries, the presence of more established stars on the Clippers means they are already out of leeway.  The Jazz’s youth, on the other hand, has kept the promise of better things yet to come alive and well.  In a series that could go either way, advantage Quinn Snyder’s hair:  Jazz in 7.

Enjoy the games!