By Matt Noonan
The NBA playoffs begin Saturday, so with that being said, here are Matt Noonan’s predictions for the first round.
Eastern Conference – First Round Predictions:
(1) Chicago Bulls vs. (8) Indiana Pacers – It is a great story to see the Indiana Pacers back in the NBA playoffs, but the Chicago Bulls are too talented of a team to lose this series. The Bulls finished with the best record in basketball, so expect their winning ways to continue. Chicago win the series, 4-1.
(2) Miami Heat vs. (7) Philadelphia 76ers – Finally, the “Big-3″ will get to play in their first playoff game together, but hopefully there won’t be any tears in the locker room, but who knows? Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra should have no problem leading his team past an up and coming 76ers squad coached by the great Doug Collins. Also, expect LeBron James to say to his teammates prior to tip-off, “give me the ball if you want to win at least one series.” James and the Heat will win this series. Miami wins the series, 4-2.
(3) Boston Celtics vs. (6) New York Knicks – No Kendrick Perkins, no problem. The Celtics will hopefully find themselves in this series, but expect this matchup to possibly go six or seven games. Amare Stoudemire told the New York media last summer that the Knicks were beginning a “new era.” Sadly, this “new era” should end with a playoff loss, but at least the Knicks are headed in the right direction. Boston wins the series, 4-2.
(4) Orlando Magic vs. (5) Atlanta Hawks – Why does it seem that every year these two teams always meet in the playoffs? How much do you want to bet that both the Hawks and Magic have dinner, practice and hang out together too? Would Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy even allow that to happen? I doubt it! Orlando wins the series, 4-2.
Western Conference – First Round Predictions:
(1) San Antonio Spurs vs. (8) Memphis Grizzlies – San Antonio has clearly been one of the better teams all season, but now the age factor is catching up with them, but against the Grizzlies, consider this an easy first round series. San Antonio wins the series, 4-0.
(2) Los Angles Lakers vs. (7) New Orleans Hornets – After winning the 2010 NBA Championship, the Lakers were picked to repeat and face the Boston Celtics again.Boring! However, both teams have struggled, but with Andrew Bynum somewhat banged up and Los Angles’s age becoming a factor, expect the Hornets to challenge the old men, but in the end, the men who wear the purple and gold jerseys should win. Los Angles wins the series, 4-2.
(3) Dallas Mavericks vs. (6) Portland Trail Blazers – Talk about a true toss-up, either team could win this series. The Trail Blazers have had their moments all season, while the Mavericks looked like a pretty good team at times. However, after watching Dirk Nowitzki dance on YouTube, I may have to go with the underdog to win this series. Portland wins the series, 4-3.
(4) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (5) Denver Nuggets – Denver is an absolute mess these days and after trading away half their team to New York, it seems they imitated the Boston Celtics of 2010, who see-sawed their way to the finish line last year. Kevin Durant will shine in this series, as well as lead Oklahoma past Denver, so get excited Thunder fans. Maybe Denver should focus on the Colorado Rockies, who are playing quite well these days. Oklahoma wins the series, 4-2.