Editor’s note: The All U Can Heat Staff got together and made their NBA Playoffs predictions for the first round. Below is some of our contributors’ take on every series.
San Antonio Spurs (1) vs Dallas Mavericks (8)
WG: Spurs in 4. The San Antonio Spurs have the best record in the NBA despite neither of their star players averaging more than 30 minutes per game. With a much more complete roster than the Mavs, and their starters rested, the Spurs handle their first-round matchup.
David Ramil: Spurs in 5. San Antonio has been the best team in the league, through injuries and lineup changes, and they’ve got the postseason experience to carry them all the way. Dallas is elite offensively and poor defensively; not a good combo. The Mavs don’t have enough to take more than one game in the series.
Kristopher Keaton: Spurs in 5. The Spurs are well rested, and still the best team in the NBA record-wise. Duncan vs. Nowitzki for possibly the last time is definitely intriguing, but the Spurs top to bottom are much better than the Mavs.
Alex Monseth: Spurs in 4. The Spurs have been basically resting their starters for the entire season, while Dallas has had to battle in the heated Western Conference just to get into the playoffs. Maybe Dallas has some fight in them and can do to San Antonio what Golden State did to them a few years ago as an eight seed. But the Spurs the better team here.
Houston Rockets (4) vs Portland Trail Blazers (5)
WG: Rockets in 6. If you like three-point shooting, this will be your series. Both teams push the pace, but the difference will be Dwight Howard in the middle for Houston.
DR: Rockets in 6. High-powered offense is the key for this series but Houston’s “defense” is just a little better than Portland’s. Then again, this all depends on Patrick Beverley being available and able to limit Damian Lillard. But Dwight Howard will draw Brook Lopez into foul trouble early, and the dominoes will fall defensively for Portland as a result.
KK: Rockets in 6. The Rockets are a real dark-horse title contender if their defense can even be above average. The Rockets have the best two players on the floor in this series, and that should swing the momentum in their favor. Also, the health of Patrick Beverly will be important in defending Damian Lillard.
EK: I want to pick the upset here, but I just couldn’t do it. The Rockets have too much firepower, in James Harden, Dwight Howard, and Chandler Parsons, for the Blazers to overcome. This should be another entertaining series, with the Rockets winning in 7.
AM: Rockets in 5. These teams are similar in that they shoot the three well and like to score the basketball at a high rate, but the Rockets have James Harden, who’s unquestionably the best player on the floor in this series. The Blazers are too inexperienced to take down the Harden/Howard combo, who’ve both been all the way to the NBA Finals before.
Oklahoma City Thunder (2) vs Memphis Grizzlies (7)
WG: Thunder in 5. Oklahoma City will drop a close game in Memphis but, otherwise, the Grizzlies can’t score with the Thunder for the length of a playoff series. This will be the only series in which Kendrick Perkins should play.
DR: Thunder in 5. OKC is stronger, deeper and led by this year’s MVP, Kevin Durant. He’ll get his points and as long as Russell Westbrook stays healthy – and doesn’t shoot them out of the game – they’ll advance pretty easily.
KK: Thunder in 7. The Grizzlies are one of the stingiest defenses in the league, and have always played the Thunder tough, even with Westbrook. The Thunder are the better offensive team and have the best offensive player in the game in Kevin Durant. A big X-factor will be how physical Tony Allen will be allowed to be.
AM: Thunder in 5. This series is simply all about Kevin Durant. It looks like he could end up being one of the greatest players of all time at the pace. First, he has to start winning championships. The Grizzlies are a strong defensive team, which might win them a game, but there just isn’t any defense good enough when playing Durant.
Los Angeles Clippers (3) vs Golden State Warriors (6)
WG: Clippers in 4. Sorry Warriors fans, but Andrew Bogut being out all but ended your playoff hopes. Doc Rivers has created a defense that will run the Warriors off the line and make life difficult.
DR: Clips in 5. No Bogut, no chance. Who would’ve thought he’d be the difference maker? But Steph Curry and Klay Thompson will get their points and make it fun to watch; it just won’t translate into wins. Blake will dominate this series.
KK: Clippers in 5. I love the Warriors and their style of play, and Steph Curry is a personal favorite. However, missing Andrew Bogut against a team with the inside presence of the Clippers is pretty damning. Blake Griffin has been amazing this season and should continue to dominate in the playoffs.
EK: This is going to be the most entertaining series of the playoffs. The animosity between the two clubs is obvious to anyone that watches basketball. The Warriors could pull off a major upset if they can keep bullying and pushing Blake Griffin around. I predict the Clipps to take this series in 5, but I will be pulling for the Warriors to pull off the upset.
AM: Clippers in 7. The series that everyone wants to see. I think it will live up to the hype. Two of the great point guards in the game today, Stephen Curry and Chris Paul, go head to head. I see the Blake Griffin/DeAndre Jordan or Andre Iguadola/Klay Thompson combos making the biggest impact on this series. In the end, I can’t rely on distance shooting to win a long series against a Doc Rivers team.
Indiana Pacers (1) vs Atlanta Hawks (8)
WG: Pacers in 6. Somewhat of a shock, the Hawks match up relatively well with the Pacers. Pero Antic will help draw Hibbert out of the paint and away from the glass and Paul Millsap > David West.
DR: Pacers in 4. David West can limit Paul Millsap and the Hawks just don’t have enough firepower to contend. Despite Indiana’s recent troubles, they’ll be able to get past a team that probably shouldn’t have been in the playoffs in the first place.
KK: Pacers in 5. Although the Pacers have been struggling down the stretch, and suffered an embarrassing loss to the Hawks a couple weeks ago, I think that was more about the Pacers than the Hawks. If the Hawks had the services of Al Horford, I think this could be a lot closer than it will be.
EK: The Hawks should be just to be in the playoffs, as without Horford, the team lacks the firepower to make any sort of run. This series could be what the doctor ordered for the Pacers to get back on track. I like the Pacers chances to win this series in a clean sweep.
AM: Pacers in 4. I could venture to say the Hawks look like one of the worst playoff teams in my memory, and even the slumping Pacers shouldn’t have trouble with the team led by Paul Millsap. As a Heat fan, I hope a drubbing of the Hawks doesn’t give the Pacers confidence they need moving forward in the Playoffs.
Chicago Bulls (4) vs Washington Wizards (5)
Bulls in 6. The Bulls will have a hard time scoring and so will the Wizards, because Chicago does a great job running shooters off the line. These will be low-scoring games, and the Wizards will steal a couple because they have guys who can create their own shots with the game on the line and the the Bulls don’t. Screw it! Brad Beal gets on a roll and John Wall goes 2006-Wade. Wizards win in 7!
DR: Bulls in 7. Tough to call but I think Chicago’s defense will get them past the inexperienced Wizards. Hustle and top-tier defense trumps the Wizards strong-but-erratic offense. It’ll go down to the wire but Noah’s length and energy will give Washington fits.
KK: Bulls in 7. This is probably the most even series in the first-round. The Bulls’ defense is incredible to watch, but their offense is often easy to forget. The Wizards are the complete opposite, with a pretty potent offense and so-so defense. The Bulls do have the experience and the home-court advantage, so I give them the edge.
EK: I love watching the Wall-Beal backcourt as much as any backcourt in the NBA. Beal has been one of my favorite players since his lone season as a Gator. I predict he’ll become a household name after a huge series. The Wizards pull off an upset here and beat the Roseless Bulls in 6.
AM: Bulls in 7. The Wizards are about as inexperienced as they come in playoff situations, while Chicago has been here year in and year out in the “Derrick Rose era”, whether he’s been on the court or not. With home court advantage, I can see the Bulls’ defense played up with the crowd, plus, I’ve never been so sure of John Wall being THE franchise player anyways. Bulls continue to win, despite playing without their best player… it’s pretty incredible to see Thib’s work.
Miami Heat (2) vs Charlotte Bobcats (7)
WG: Heat in 4. Miami flips the switch and brings out the broom. However, these games will be tougher and more physical than some fans may think. Al Jefferson will be a problem, but Bosh and Haslem will figure it out.
KK: Heat in 5. This has been the moment the Heat have waited for since October. The playoffs are what they live for and are defined by. Charlotte is a pretty good defensive team, with a star in Al Jefferson, but Miami is just too strong for such an inexperienced team.
EK: Al Jefferson is a major threat to the Miami Heat. I expect him to have a huge series and give the Heat a tough time. That however will not be enough, as the Heat pull off a clean sweep. Wade will have a huge series, getting himself back into playoff form.
AM: Heat in 4. Take us back just a few years, and a Heat/Bobcats meeting would be like watching a one verse sixteen seed in the NCAA Tournament. However, the Bobcats have added Al Jefferson (who should get more credit in the MVP discussion, despite not having a chance of winning it with LeBron and Durant on top) and look at least slightly more formidable. Still, Heat will win all four games, unless Kemba pulls off another sweet step back at the buzzer. I wouldn’t mind seeing another one of those.
Toronto Raptors (3) vs Brooklyn Nets (6)
WG: Nets in 7. This series goes seven games and I only give the edge to the Nets because they have playoff experience. The Raptors present a tough matchup for the Nets, who may not be able to run with them late in games. Kyle Lowry is a fiend and could be the X-factor in this series.
DR: Nets in 6. Look for Toronto’s Kyle Lowry’s score-first mentality to blow up with a big contract potentially in the near future. And the ancient combo of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have just enough to lead the Nets into the next round.
KK: Raptors in 6. I think Toronto is the most underrated team in the playoffs, as they are generally looked over. They have a great young nucleus that can challenge the more experienced Nets team. If the Raptors are able to get out and run, I see them doing a number on Brooklyn.
EK: The team with the best record since the New Year will be face another first round exit. The absence of Brook Lopez will finally wear on the Nets, as Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett will look their age, as Kyle Lowry has a huge series for the Raps. Raptors win this series in 7.
AM: Nets in 6. Something about the Toronto Raptors winning a playoff series just sounds weird to me, and it should continue to when the play the scorching Nets of Brooklyn in the first round. The Nets’ lineup is finally starting to look like the one that struck fear in the league when it was put together via big bucks last off-season. They’ll move on to face Miami, a team they’ve beaten all four times this season.