We’re Back! The TBAW staff apologizes profusely for the extended absence of the publication this past month, we were busy being sad about the fact that all of our seniors will be leaving soon.
The Eastern Conference:
1 vs. 8: The Atlanta Hawks vs. The Brooklyn Nets
With the way the Hawks have played over the course of the season it is safe to say that they will cruise through the first round. The only situation where I could see Brooklyn grinding out one victory in this series is if Brook Lopez puts the team on his back as he has been doing the past couple months of the season. Besides that, the Nets have no shot.
Prediction: Atlanta in 4
2 vs. 7: The Cleveland Cavaliers vs. The Boston Celtics
Even though Kyrie and Kevin Love have yet to play on a playoff stage, the Celtics are no roadblock for LeBron and the Cavs. If the Celtics were to take a game in this series, Isaiah Thomas would need to find a big offensive rhythm while Smart and Bradley would have to contain Irving and J.R in the backcourt. To take one win, Boston needs to have solid ball movement and at least decent rim protection, squeezing out one game at home is a stretch, but a possibility.
Prediction: Cleveland in 4
3 vs. 6: The Chicago Bulls vs. The Milwaukee Bucks
As it seems Chicago is starting to become fully healthy, they still need to find a solid rhythm and consistency on both ends of the floor. Even though Milwaukee is young and inexperienced, they had the 2nd best defence during the season. This will allow them to stick around, but not advance.
Prediction: Chicago in 6
4 vs. 5: The Toronto Raptors vs. The Washington Wizards
Probably the most intriguing of any eastern conference first round series, both teams found themselves in late season slumps. With Toronto as one of the best offensive teams, and Washington with a top-5 defense, these teams are well matched. If Derozan and Lowry get going on both sides of the ball, the Raptors could find themselves heading to the second round relatively quickly. If Washington’s frontcourt dominates Valanciunas, and Pierce’s veteran leadership inspires, Toronto could see problems.
Prediction: Toronto in 7
The Western Conference:
1 vs. 8: The Golden State Warriors vs. The New Orleans Pelicans
With the season the Warriors had, it is impossible for the Pelicans to pull off this upset. It’s likely that would could see one game this series where Anthony Davis goes off for his 40 points, 15 rebounds, and 10 blocks to snag one game from the Warriors. Nothing more than that.
Prediction: Golden State in 5
2 vs. 7: Houston Rockets vs. Dallas Mavericks
Even though Houston has been hit by injuries (Patrick Beverly, Donatas Motiejūnas), they still remain to be the superior team over Dallas. Houston has a nice defensive core that has the possibility to take them far. In this series, Dallas has the advantage in experience. Whether Rajon Rondo ends up playing in the playoffs like he did in his Boston days, experience will allow Dallas to take a few games.
Prediction: Houston in 6
3 vs. 6: The Los Angeles Clippers vs. The San Antonio Spurs
Easily the most interesting of any first round series in the league, both teams ended the season on a strong note. We could see Chris Paul play one of the best playoff series of his career. Even though the Clipper’s starters can keep up with any team in the league, it is their bench that is the difference maker. After Jamal Crawford, the LA bench will not be able to keep up with the Spurs bench for a 7 game series.
Prediction: San Antonio in 7
4 vs. 5: The Portland Trailblazers vs. The Memphis Grizzlies
Even though the Blazers have the 4th seed, they do not have home court advantage. They only ranked 4th because they won the Northwest division. With Wes Matthews going down earlier this season and having a road record 3 games under .500, it is unlikely that they will defeat a Grizzlies team that was battling for the 2nd seed all season long.
Prediction: Memphis in 5