I know you've all been waiting with bated breath for my first-round NBA playoff predictions, which, if you'd seen my regular-season predictions, is probably a bad idea. To be fair, I'd like to think I have a better grasp on these teams after 82 games, but only time will tell. So let's get right to the picks, starting with the Eastern Conference.
1 Bulls vs 8 Pacers
Preseason predictions: Bulls 4th, Pacers 13th
Look, I'm not the only idiot that didn't have the Bulls finishing first in the East. I did at least have them winning the Central, which is more than I can say for Sports Illustrated. This series should, like most 1-8 series, be a cakewalk for Chicago.
Prediction: Bulls in 5
2 Heat vs 7 76ers
Preseason predictions: Heat 1st, 76ers 12th
I really didn't have much faith in Philly, which I think goes to show just how good a job Doug Collins has done this year. Well, it won't be good enough in the playoffs.
Prediction: Heat in 4
3 Celtics vs 6 Knicks
Preseason predictions: Celtics 3rd, Knicks 8th
Holy crap, I got a team right! And the Knicks weren't too far off (ignore the team I had finishing immediately ahead of them in the East). I know some people think this will be a competitive series, but I tend to disagree.
Prediction: Celtics in 5
4 Magic vs 5 Hawks
Preseason predictions: Magic 2nd, Hawks 6th
Not too far off on these. I know Atlanta won the season series 3-1, and 4-5 upsets are fairly common (an average of one per season), but Dwight don't play dat.
Prediction: Magic in 6
Now, on to the Western Conference, where I predict utter chaos!
Or not. More likely not.
1 Spurs vs 8 Grizzlies
Preseason predictions: Spurs 4th, Grizzlies 10th
I always pick the Spurs lower than they finish, mostly because I hate them. Do I hate them enough to pick a massive upset in the first round? No. Not even close.
Prediction: Spurs in 6 (building in a loss for Manu's injury -- if he's fully healthy, then this doesn't go beyond 5)
2 Lakers vs 7 Hornets
Preseason predictions: Lakers 1st, Hornets 8th
I was off by one on the seeds, but I actually pegged this as a first-round series before the season started. Go me! Also, go Hornets... out of the playoffs, and probably quickly.
Prediction: Lakers in 5
3 Mavericks vs 6 Blazers
Preseason predictions: Mavericks 5th, Blazers 2nd
I'm VERY tempted to pick an upset here, because the two teams are even closer than their seeds would indicate, but I just can't do it. However, I do think this will be a close series.
Prediction: Mavericks in 7
4 Thunder vs 5 Nuggets
Preseason predictions: Thunder 3rd, Nuggets 11th
I thought the Nuggets would collapse post Carmelo trade (yes, I built that trade into my prediction, even though it wasn't really on the radar in October), but they didn't. In fact, they've been one of the best teams in the league since the break. I just don't think they match up well with the Thunder at all.
Prediction: Thunder in 6.
Yes, I'm going chalk in the first round. I suck, I know. We'll check back in a couple weeks and see how this all turned out.