For the first time since the 2004-2005 season, the Los Angeles Lakers will not be in the playoffs. However, there is still plenty of basketball to talk about.
With the playoffs only two weeks away, we decided to do a first round playoff preview based on the current standings.
#1 San Antonio Spurs vs. #8 Dallas Mavericks
Dirk will prove to be a formidable opponent for the San Antonio Spurs, and the Mavericks will give the Spurs all they can handle in the first round, before eventually losing out in Game 6.
Prediction: Spurs in 6
#2 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. #7 Memphis Grizzlies
The grizzlies are going to struggle to guard Kevin Durant without Rudy Gay. The Grizzlies’ age will catch up to them, and the Thunder’s athleticism will prove to be too much for the worn down Grizzlies.
Prediction: Thunder in 5
#3 Los Angeles Clippers vs. #6 Golden State Warriors
The Clippers will finally get out of the first round, but this series will prove to be more physical than any other. These two teams have developed a bitter rivalry in the last couple years, so this one will probably go a full seven, with the Clippers winning out at home.
Prediction: Clippers in 7
#4 Houston Rockets vs. #5 Portland Trailblazers
The Blazers position in the standings is a bit inflated due to a good start early on in the season, they will however struggle with the height and athleticism of the Rockets.
Prediction: Rockets in 5
#1 Miami Heat vs. #8 Atlanta Hawks
The Heat will cruise through the first round, even if Dwyane Wade is not back from his injury yet. The defending champs’ experience will prove to be too much for the Hawks.
Prediction: Heat in 4
#2 Indiana Pacers vs. #7 Charlotte Bobcats
The Pacers have been struggling lately, and the Bobcats are playing their best ball of the season. However, the Pacers’ defense will hold up against a young Bobcats team.
Prediction: Pacers in 5
#3 Toronto Raptors vs. #6 Washington Wizards
These two teams are similar in many ways in terms of playing style, it will be fun to see Kyle Lowry and John Wall go at it. This might be the only upset of the first round. The Raptors will struggle to stop Bradley Beal and Wall.
Prediction: Wizards in 6
#4 Chicago Bulls vs. #5 Brooklyn Nets
The Bulls defense has been the most consistent thing in the NBA next to Steve Nash’s injuries. The Nets however, have been playing their best ball since the all-star break.
Prediction: Nets in 7
The Heat and the Spurs will likely meet again in the NBA finals, but there are several young teams that can possibly dethrone the conference champions.