NBA Talk: First Round Playoff Predictions: Who's going forward and who's going home

Posted by Andrew Shi

It's playoff time - here's a quick rundown of who's getting past the first round.

Eastern Conference:

(1) Chicago vs. (8) Philadelphia.

The 76ers were nothing but phenomenal at the beginning of the season. How they dropped all the way from a season-high 3rd seed to barely making 8th is still being debated. Chicago's team is looking better every day and has one of the best defenses in the league.

Prediction: Chicago wins in five games

(2) Miami vs. (7) New York.

Miami had a rough patch at the end of the season, whereas New York ended with a nice win streak, albeit Miami did sit out its star players the last few games. New York has unbelievable potential, and the whole nation is waiting for Jeremy Lin's return. The Knick's new coach might be the factor needed to boost New York through the playoffs, but the team needs a little more time for everyone to figure out their roles. Lebron James also really wants this championship

Prediction: Miami sweeps New York.

(3) Indiana vs. (6) Orlando.

Indiana has been this season's surprise. No one saw them dominating the league but they did. Meanwhile, Orlando is without Dwight Howard. The Magic still have a few key players, but it won't be even close to enough.

Prediction: Indiana wins in five.

(4) Atlanta vs. (5) Boston.

Boston is the aging team. Atlanta has the right mix of veterans of young talent. Still the Hawks  seem to lack something, whether its chemistry or motivation, and, despite their team's impressive athleticism and caliber, they struggle against top teams. Boston has always saved their best for the playoffs, and Rondo is capable of taking over. Boston won two out of their three matchups with the Hawks, and the one they lost, they kept it within 5 while sitting their big four. It doesn't matter if Atlanta clinched home court advantage.

 Prediction: Boston wins in six.

Western Conference:

(1) San Antonio vs. (8) Utah.

San Antonio is with one of the best defenses and bench. Utah just barely made the playoffs. As long as San Antonio keeps all of its players healthy they should see great success.

Prediction: San Antonio sweeps Utah.

(2) Oklahoma City vs. (7) Dallas.

Oklahoma City has some of the youngest talent in the NBA. Kevin Durant is arguably the best small forward, and Russell Westbrook is a top point guard. Serge Ibaka is one of the league's best defenders and James Harden is likely winner of sixth man. Dallas has a lot of clutch players, and, old clutch players, but it's unlikely they'll be able to keep up with the Thunder.

Prediction: Oklahoma City wins in five.

(3) Los Angeles vs. (6) Denver.

The Lakers have Kobe Bryant and the best active center - Andrew Bynum. Metta World Peace will be out for six more games which may take a toll on the Lakers. Denver has a lot of young players who can dominate the game. JaVale Mcgee was a great pickup, and Kenneth Faried is a top choice for rookie of the year. It's going to be a close call but the Nuggets need another year or two of experience.

Prediction: Los Angeles wins in six

(4) Grizzlies vs. (5) Clippers.

This has probably been the hardest matchup to decide so far. Last year the Grizzlies, without Rudy Gay, topped the Spurs (although the Spurs were without Manu Ginobili). Marc Gasol is one of the most versatile and prolific centers in the league, and Mike Conley is a top tier point guard. Zack Randolph is a dominating figure, and having him and Gilbert Arenas come off the bench is pretty awesome. Still the Clippers have Chris Paul who is possibly the most clutch player in the league and has utterly transformed the team making it in to one well-oiled bull-dozer of a team. Blake Griffin must also be mentioned, as well as Randy Foye DeAndre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe, who have all added essential offense and defense. In season match-ups, the Clippers won 2-1. Prediction: Los Angeles win in 7, but if the Grizzlies take the win there will be no surprise either.

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