The 2011 NBA Playoffs start April 17th. We have some good matchups here, and this first round should be a good predictor as to the eventual winners of the Western/Eastern Conferences. Here are the matchups, and my predicted winners of each.
BULLS vs. PACERS – The Chicago Bulls have secured the top seed in the playoffs, in large part due to Derrick Rose’s MVP-caliber season. The Bulls have showed no signs of slowing down, and a healthy Joakim Noah should give them the momentum needed to go far in the playoffs. The Pacers have had a decent season, but ultimately they will not stand a chance against the Bulls. Winner: Bulls in 4
SIXERS vs. HEAT – The Miami Heat has had a rollercoaster of a season, but the trifecta of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh will undoubtedly pick up the pace in the playoffs. The Sixers will make it slightly competitive, but the Heat are too strong of a team to lose to them in the first round. Winner: Heat in 4
HAWKS vs. MAGIC – The Atlanta Hawks have had a good season, and have beaten the Orlando Magic 3-1 in the regular season. However, the Magic will not be losing this matchup, and Dwight Howard will do everything he can to power the Magic past the Hawks in this round. Winner: Magic in 6
KNICKS vs. CELTICS – The New York Knicks have a team that can compete with the Boston Celtics, especially the triple threats of Amare Stoudemire, Chancey Billups, and Carmelo Anthony. But the Celtics are too deep, and this veteran playoff experienced team is the favorite to win the Eastern Conference. Winner: Celtics in 6
GRIZZLIES vs. SPURS: The Memphis Grizzlies have split their regular season games with the San Antonio Spurs, winning 2 and losing 2. This first-round matchup will be not as even-sided, and the Spurs will easily win this round.
Winner: Spurs in 4
HORNETS vs. LAKERS: The Los Angeles Lakers have won all 4 games in the regular season against the New Orleans Hornets, and the Lakers will win this first round against them as well. It won’t be a sweep, though.
Winner: Lakers in 5
TRAIL BLAZERS vs. MAVERICKS: This matchup proves to be one that will be competitive and interesting, and will probably go the 7 game distance. The Dallas Mavericks have the experience; however the Portland Trail Blazers have the intensity and will be the eventual winners in the first round.
Winner: Trail Blazers in 7
NUGGETS vs. THUNDER: The Denver Nuggets have proven to be a resilient team, even after losing Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony earlier in the season. However, Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder has been playing excellent basketball, and the Thunder will eventually be winning this round.
Winner: Thunder in 6