NBA Playoffs: First Round Predictions

Divya ParmarSenior Analyst IApril 14, 2008

The NBA Playoffs are finally around the corner. It sucks that my Warriors are not in the playoffs, but life goes on.

I felt like offering my thoughts and opinions, so without further delay, here is my breakdown:

Western Conference

(1) LA Lakers vs (8) Denver Nuggets: I like the Lakers big in this series. The Nuggets play absolutely NO defense, and Kobe and company will expose that lack and score in huge numbers. The Nuggets have two superstars in Melo and AI, but the Lakers are deeper, better balanced, and better coached. The Nuggets still have great superstars, and have enough talent to take two games in this series. Pick: Lakers in 6

(2) New Orleans Hornets vs (7) Dallas Mavericks: On paper, both teams have a lot of talent, but I still like the Hornets. Chris Paul is playing out of his mind and raising the level of his teammates. Dallas, to me at least, lacks some intangibles.  It might be Avery's over-coaching, past playoff failures fresh in their minds, or just lacking toughness. New Orleans is starting to provide great support to the Hornets, and the Hornets should come out on top barring a Maverick revival. Pick: Hornets in 6

(3) San Antonio Spurs vs (6) Phoenix Suns: In many years, you might look at a 3 against 6 matchup and say the 3 is much better than the 6. But in this tight Western Conference, 3 and 6 are only ONE game apart. Both teams are very evenly matched. I actually like Phoenix here. I know the Spurs have Duncan and Finals experience, but they are getting old and fading, while Amare Stoudamire is an absolute beast. Combine that with Nash distributing the ball and Shaq's previous playoff success, and I think Phoenix avenges last year's defeat. Pick: Phoenix in 7

(4) Utah Jazz vs (5) Houston Rockets: I like Utah in this series. The Jazz are unbeatable at home, and probably will have home court advantage. Utah is really clicking right now. Houston had a nice run earlier, but they'll have to face the harsh reality that the Jazz are just better right now talent-wise.  Expect Deron Williams to pick up where he left off in last year's playoffs as one of the best point guards in the NBA.  Pick: Utah in 6

Eastern Conference

(1) Boston Celtics vs (8) Atlanta Hawks: This is a mere formality. Self-explanatory. I would be insulting your intelligence explaining the pick. Pick: Celtics in 4

(2) Detroit Pistons vs (7) Philadelphia: Detroit is obviously much better, but Philadelphia has played well at times this season, and gets one game in the series.  Philly has young talent and a bright future, but Detroit is much more experienced in big time games.  Pick: Pistons in 5

(3) Orlando Magic vs (6) Toronto Raptors: Orlando has Dwight Howard and a good supporting cast. Toronto is unimpressive and has underachieved, not to mention they lack a clutch playoff scorer. Orlando rolls through the series. Pick: Magic in 5

(4) Cleveland Cavaliers vs (5) Washington Wizards: Neither team is very deep or has a good overall group of players. The difference is LeBron. LeBron will carry the Cavs to victory in a tight series between two evenly matched, but crappy, teams. Pick: Cleveland in 6