(1) Miami Heat vs. (8) Milwaukee Bucks: Heat 2 -Bucks 0
The Bucks’ sub .500 regular season record (38-44) alone shows how undeserving they are to even be in the playoffs, let alone on the same court with the defending champs. Outmanned, outmatched and outclassed, this is a warm up series for Miami. Have the “Heatles” even broken a sweat?
(2) New York Knicks vs. (7) Boston Celtics: Knicks 2 – Celtics 0
How cliche would it sound if I said, Melo on a Mission? Determined to advance to the second round, Carmelo Anthony will do all he can, even if he has to give his Knicks a piggyback ride to face Indiana in round two more than likely. The Celtics simply do not matchup well against this high-powered offense. In the words of Kobe Bryant, Boston looks “old and slow.” Paul Piece is a mere shell of himself, this may be Kevin Garnett’s last year and Avery Bradley just isn’t ready. The Celtics are much more dominant when Jeff Green plays more assertive. Doc Rivers has to get him going early.
Even though they lost the first game 85-78, Green scored 26 points in a relatively tight game with his penetration in the lane and adding constant pressure on the Knicks’ sometiming defense. The second outing was a different story. Green hopes to erase a pitiful 10 point showing going 3 of 11 from the field. His second game letdown led to a 16 point loss by the hands of Melo and the Knicks. Coincidence? I think not.
(3) Indiana Pacers vs. (6) Atlanta Hawks: Pacers 2 - Hawks 0
The Hawks are always in the middle/lower of the pack. They are just, well, there. The Hawks are just not good enough. While I like to improve play of point guard Jeff Teague and an underrated Al Horford, the Hawks never do enough. Nothing about them leaps off the page. Nothing is special about this team. Josh Smith is an all-star, not a superstar.
Indiana’s emerging Paul George is well deserving of the NBA Most Improved Player Award. His opening round triple-double cemented the honors. The Pacers true test will come against the Knicks in round two. Unless Larry Bird comes running through the tunnels of TD Bank Garden arena, Boston won’t see round two.
(4) Brooklyn Nets (5) Chicago Bulls: Nets 1 – Bulls 1
This matchup reels in my interest simply because of Deron Williams. When healthy, Williams is arguably the best point guard in the NBA. Before the playoffs began, he was looking like the Williams of the Salt Lake City days. His 22 pts and 7 ast performance in game one led me to believe the Bulls were in a world of trouble.
But silly me forgetting about Tom Thibodeau and Chicago’s suffocating defense. Williams did dish out 10 assist, but they hacked and corralled Williams to a 1 for 9 night. This series has the making to go the distance.
(1) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (8) Houston Rockets: Thunder 2 – Rockets 0
Poor James Harden. Having to play his former team in the opening rounds of the playoffs. He wants nothing more than get back at the team that shipped him coldheartedly out of Oklahoma City. What a great achievement it was to reach the playoffs in his first year in Houston, but they stand no chance against Kevin Durant and the Thunder. The only thing standing in the way of Oklahoma City is one of their own, Russell Westbrook.
(2) San Antonio Spurs vs. (7) Los Angeles Lakers: Spurs 1 – Lakers 0 (Now 2-0)
Call me delusional, but I actually picked the Lakers to win in 7 games largely because of the injuries and deficiencies of the Spurs. I figured the aging Tim Duncan couldn’t continue drinking from the fountain of youth, Tony Parker’s gimpy ankles wouldn’t hold up and Manu Ginobili was essentially done because of his nagging hamstring injuries.
Can I get a mulligan?
Ginobili came out hot and hit 18 points in 19 minutes in game one. Parker looked like his old self totaling 18 pts and 8 ast in game one. And Duncan? The best power forward in NBA history? He took another swig from the mythical fountain compiling 17 pts 10 rebs and 3 stls.
(3) Denver Nuggets vs. (6) Golden State Warriors: Nuggets 1 – Warriors 1
Smooth? Silky? Butter? Feel free to use whatever superlative or adjective at your discretion to describe Stephen Curry’s shooting stroke. I’m a firm believer that superstars prevail and triumph. While Denver has a premier supporting cast and talented roll players, no one on that team is a superstar. The Warriors have a legit superstar in Curry. The baby faced assassin has lived up to the billing in his first taste of playoff action. Curry easily can lead the league in scoring while arguably becoming the best point guard in the NBA.
This series is far from over, but with Curry and the rest of his poachers taking aim beyond the arch, this 6th seed has what it takes to upset the Nuggets.
(4) Los Angeles Clippers vs. (5) Memphis Grizzlies: Clippers 2 – Grizzlies 0
Dating back to my superstar logic, the Grizzlies do not have any. Yes, they have the league stingiest defense and the Defensive Player of the Year in Marc Gasol, but the Grizzlies can’t overcome Lob City. Last year’s playoff meeting between the two was brutal, but I had gut feeling the Clippers were not having that this year. They’re too talented and athletic for the Memphis. And did I forget to mention Chris Paul?