1. (1) Miami Heat (66-16) vs. (8) Milwaukee Bucks (38-44)
Lebron James (26.8 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 7.3 ast) and the high-octane offense of the Miami Heat host a first round match-up against Monta Ellis (19.2 ppg, 6.0 apg) and the Bucks. The Heat have earned the NBA’s top seed, and have posted a 3-1 record against the Bucks. In this match-up we can expect to see the Heat show how defending champs play by taking the 7 game series in 4 games.
2. (2) NY Knicks (52-28) vs.(7) Boston Celtics (41-40)
NBA scoring champion Carmelo Anthony (28.7 ppg, 6.9 rpg) looks to continue this season's success against Kevin Garnett (14.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg) and the Boston Celtics (3-1 head-to-head record). Neither of these teams are young (okay, this looks like an over-50 game at the Y), but with age comes experience. Look for a great Atlantic Division match-up where supremacy will fall into Knicks hands with a 4-2 series win.
3. (3) Indiana Pacers (49-32) vs. (6) Atlanta Hawks (44-38)
The Pacers, behind Paul George (17.4 ppg, 4.1 apg, 7.6 rpg), will host Josh Smith’s (17.5 ppg, 4.2 apg, 8.4 rpg) Atlanta Hawks to finally find out who the better team is this season — after the two battled to a 2-2 draw during the year. This will be a physical match-up that will come down to the wire for multiple games. The Pacers are poised for another run in the postseason and should beat the Hawks in 6 games.
4. (4) Brooklyn Nets vs. (5) Chicago Bulls (45-37)
Deron Williams (18.9 ppg, 7.7 apg) leads this Nets team against Joakim Noah (11.9 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 2.1 bpg) and the Bulls nasty, suffocating defense. While the Nets have the higher seed, the Bulls own a 3-1 head-to-head regular season record. Behind Noah, Luol Deng, and Carlos Boozer look to close the Nets on their own court in 6 games.
1. (1) Oklahoma Thunder (60-22) vs. (8) Houston Rockets (45-37)
Perennial NBA All-Star and three times scoring champ Kevin Durant (28.1 ppg, 4.6 apg, 7.9 rpg) will look to outscore his ex-teammate James Harden (25.9 ppg, 5.8 apg, 4.9 rpg) and the Rockets. With help from All-Star guard Russell Westbrook, the Thunder have a 2-1 record this year against an exciting back court of Harden and Jeremy Lin. Instead of his past success in the playoffs, we can expect Harden’s Rockets to make an early exit in 4 games against his former Thunder team. Expect a sweep.
2. (2) San Antonio Spurs (58-24) vs. (7) Los Angeles Lakers (45-37)
The now Kobe-less Lakers, led by Dwight Howard (17.1 ppg, 12.4 rpg) and Pau Gasol (13.7 ppg, 4.1 apg, 8.6 rpg),face a familiar San Antonio Spurs team — anchored by trusty Tim Duncan (17.8 ppg, 9.9 rpg) and Tony Parker (20.3 ppg, 7.6 apg) — in a match-up we are used to seeing in a later round. But not this year. The Spurs took the season series 2-1 and the Lakers — without Kobe — don’t have that clutch go-to-guy you need in a tight playoff game. Expect Spurs to win this series in 5 games.
3. (3) Denver Nuggets (57-25) vs. (6) Golden State Warriors (47-35)
Speedy and electrifying Ty Lawson (16.7 ppg, 6.9 apg) and the well-rounded Nuggets host Stephen Curry (22.9 ppg, 6.8 apg) and the Warriors. This could be the most action-packed series of them all. The Nuggets have relied on a group effort all year and look to use that formula against a Warriors team that has been carried by the 3-point shooting monster named Curry. The Nuggets won 3 of 4 against the Warriors and should be able to continue their success, winning in 6 games.
4. (4) LA Clippers vs. (5) Memphis Grizzlies (56-26)
The Clippers won their division behind All Star Chris Paul (16.9 ppg, 9.7 apg) and high-flying Blake Griffin (18 ppg, 8.3 rpg) and will host the Grizzlies again in the playoffs. Powered by Zack Randolph (15.4 ppg, 11.2 rpg), the squad from Memphis will try to avenge last seasons playoff debacle, and this season's 1-3 record against the Clippers. This will be a fun and exciting match-up — but the Clippers should win the series in 7 games.