The 2012 NBA Playoffs are scheduled to start on TNT at 12 central with the Philadelphia 76ers visiting the league’s best Chicago Bulls. So expect a tipoff around 12:18.
For Round One, I will predict a winner and in how many games. As the rounds progress I will offer much, much more insight and analysis.
So for Round One Let’s Begin with a rundown before things get going after EJ/Chuck/Kenny/Shaq and Underdog (the Producer…don’t you watch #Inside?) finish up their pre-game extravaganza.
Keep reading…..you’ll be hyperlink-rewarded
1 Chicago Bulls
8 Philadelphia 76ers
Derrick Rose is not 100% and the 76ers versatility is not to be underestimated. I wouldn’t be surprised if Philly stole game @ Chi-Town then the Bulls ripped off 4 straight. Bulls in 6.
4 Boston Celtics
5 Atlanta Hawks
Despite the lower seed, Atlanta has homecourt. But it’s still Atlanta. The team that chose Marvin Williams over Chris Paul and Deron Williams, gave Joe Johnson a max contract, and received a trade request midseason from Josh Smith. TNT’s Shaquille O’Neal says this is the last hoo-rah for the big 3. I disagree as long as the amazing Rajon Rondo keeps doing what he does, he’ll get them wide open looks from their wheelchairs. But experience (and talent) prevails. Celtics in 6.
3 Indiana Pacers
6 Orlando Magic
This season just needs to end for Orlando. Pacers in 5 because Ryan Anderson’s 8 3′s get Orlando a Game 3 W at home, but Indiana is incredibly overlooked and has valuable experience obtained from last season’s 1st round postseason matchup with the Chicago Bulls. Rising Center Roy Hibbert should absolutely go to work on “Big Baby” Glenn Davis, who is the Magic starting 5 with Dwight Howard done for the year and Marcin Gortat in Phoenix…but hey, the Magic got Turkoglu and Earl Clark for him. Pacers in 5.
2 Miami Heat
7 New York Knicks
This is without a doubt, by far, absolutely the most intriguing series in the East. The Knicks are one of only three teams in the East I think can beat Miami. (Boston/Indiana) Lingering issues for Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh remaining all too feminine for Heat fans liking make it even more challenging for should-be MVP LeBron James and his supporting cast, but the Heat take the series in 6.
1 San Antonio Spurs
8 Utah Jazz
The old but extremely well rested legs of the Spurs savvy veterans were upset to see Utah claim the final playoff spot in the West over Phoenix, who would have provided the Spurs with a nice 4 up 4 down. Utah’s young big man tandem, or the “Big 4″ as they are calling it in Salt Lake is the key to any hope the Jazz can pull off the first consecutive 8-1 seed upset in NBA history. It’s simply difficult to see Greg Popovich letting that happen to his team once again, specifically Tony Parker, who has had an MVP season but will obviously get no considerations. Spurs in…..not 4…not 5…not 6….but 7.
4 Memphis Grizzlies
5 Los Angeles Clippers
The team that captured home court in this matchup, which was decided in the final days of the season, thanks to a Joe Johnson hail mary at the shot clock buzzer, determines the winner of this series to me. Chris Paul alone gave the Lakers trouble last year in round one with the New Orleans Hornets, but now he has Blake Griffin, champion Caron Butler, Deandre Jordan veterans like Kenyon Martin and player-coach Chauncey Billups, who is out for the year but anything helps at this point. But following their headlining upset last year vs. the Spurs, Memphis enters the postseason as a force to be reckoned with, especially with their leading scorer Rudy Gay healthy this time around. But on the topic of health, power forward Zach Randolph has not been healthy all season and suffered partial tear of his MCL on New Years Day. His return was much welcomed, but he has frequently served as a bench player and is not the same player. But perhaps Z-Bo was just caged up for precautionary reasons and will be set loose in the postseason. Perhaps. The inexperience and the utter surprise of playing in May will predictably startle the majority of the Clippers roster, especially the apparently very insecure Vinny Del Negro. Deandre Jordan is an amazing shot blocker, but THAT. IS. IT. I expect double doubles from Marc Gasol in all 7 games as Memphis uses the situationally invaluable home court advantage to their…ummmm….advantage, and win the series in the maximum 7 games.
^^wow, you would think that’s my most intriguing matchup……
3 Los Angeles Lakers
6 Denver Nuggets
The very, very great and 6 foot 3 and a half Charles Barkley of the T, N, and the T predicts an upset here .He’s not alone, but even though I was right there with him when his “Team Chuck” clobbered “Team Shaq” ‘BBVA Rising Stars Challenge’ back in All-Star weekend, I am not going to agree with what is left of Sir Cumference and boldly pick the Nuggets. Everyone remembers how the Lakers were mutilated by the would-be champion Dallas Mavericks in the conference semi’s last season, from Bynum’s suspension-warranting flagrant on JJ Barea to the ridiculous splash parade of treys from Jason Terry and Peja Stojakovic in game 4. Denver is far – no – FAR – away from their Denver “Thuggets” days, with Kenyon Martin, JR Smith, Carmelo Anthony, and Gary Forbes all moving on. (Okay, added Forbes in there for kicks…but he’s a great story himself) Denver’s balance and depth took a hit when Rudy Fernandez was lost for the season and the team dealt a personal favorite Nene to Washington for Javale McGee in a financially oriented move. (They just signed Nene this off-season, I mean…really?!) McGee has the size and athleticism of Ryan Hollins, but unfortunately the brains as well, but fortunately the offensive skills of Dwight Howard, but unfortunately, that isn’t very good but in a final turn of unfortunate events that i’m turning into an article itself, the center opposing McGee and his squad is the massively improved Andrew Bynum. Okay, this is too easy, one more. Fortunately for Denver, Bynum has displayed a wildly consistent ability to “Shaqt-A-Fool” this season. (Wow, I watch a ton of Inside the NBA) We all remember benching preceded by a 3-point attempt and his awesome reasoning that fellow 7-footer Pau Gasol gets to shoot them so why can’t he? Wow, I haven’t even mentioned Kobe f’ing Bryant. Because of him among everything else, Lakers in 5. I could see a sweep here. Denver’s go-to guy is Ty Lawson, and that isn’t enough in 2012.
2 Oklahoma City Thunder
7 Dallas Mavericks
If you’ve seen my “straight-up” predictions, then you are well aware of how this series and those past will turn out. I have been a Mavericks fan since my parents…met. (<–Dan, is that okay? I’m not entirely comfortable with it myself but carrying on…) I live and die with this team, and lucky for me all my days where I have been aware of my surroundings, the Mavs have made playoff after playoff after….12 times. Outside of Dallas, this team is known for being chokers and blowing the 2-0 2006 Finals lead and losing the following year to the 8 seed Warriors after a 67-15 season… 67-15! Only 7 teams have finished with better records in the history of the league, and 3 were Michael Jordan’d. But last season, led by Dirk Nowitzki’s inspirational playoff run, Dallas finally climbed over the top and became Champions for the first time in the team’s history. Anyyyyyyywayyyyyyyyyy….the attention here to the masses is not on the defending champions but the opposition. The young, athletic, young, energetic, young , emerging, favorites, young, exciting, fresh and finally a young OKC Thunder team. Kevin Durant is 23 and has back-to-back-to-back scoring titles. Russell Westbrook is learning to play point guard, more assists and less turnovers. But he continues to hold onto the belief that he is the alpha dog of this Oklahoma City team and should feel free to take 25 shots when and however he pleases. For that reason and also the lack of inside scoring makes the Thunder short of an obvious championship pick despite having 2 of the league’s top 5 scorers. The balance of teams like San Antonio, the Lakers, or their current opponent in Dallas could be this (young) team’s undoing.
For my aforementioned “Straight-Up” Picks, click here