Cavaliers in 4
The Bulls reached the playoffs despite an ongoing feud between their Coach and General Manager. The Cavaliers come in fully rested as several star players including LeBron James took off the final games after clinching home court. This series should be over quick as the LeBrons won’t need long to find their grove and just dominate the Bulls.
Lakers in 5
The Thunder made a remarkable turnaround in their second year in Oklahoma City. Led by scoring champion Kevin Durant, the Thunder have a player that can take over a game. However, getting the defending champion Lakers in the first round is not what they desired as the Lakers led by Coach Phil Jackson know how to win this time of year and know how to make quick work of teams that are new to the playoff scene.
Magic in 5
Welcome to the playoffs Charlotte Bobcats. Now get ready for the pain. It was a great accomplishment for this franchise just to finally make it here, but they don’t stand a chance of being around long, as the Magic are a perfect playoff type team. With the defense of Dwight Howard in the middle the Magic can go back to the NBA Finals, and against a playoff rookie like the Bobcats should move on to the next round with ease.
Mavericks in 7
The Lone Star State Shoot out should be one of the most thrilling series in the first round. Whenever these two rivals meet it is entertaining, including last season when the Mavs upset the Spurs in the first round. The Mavericks have a team that can go far in the West, and the Spurs can’t ever be doubted. If Tony Parker is able to play at full strength the Spurs can get the upset. However, with Game 7 in Dallas, the Mavericks with Dirk Nowitzki having a big series will survive.
Hawks in 5
If the Bucks were going to have a chance at the upset they would have needed to be 100% healthy. However, with the elbow injury to Andrew Bogut, the Bucks are missing a key cog to their playoff run. The Hawks meanwhile are an up and coming team that has played a seven game series in the first round each of the last two years. With the addition of Jamaal Crawford the Hawks are legitimate dark horse in the East, and should be able to fly past the Bucks.
Suns in 5
After missing the playoffs in 2009 the Suns are back, and they are back strong as they finished the season playing their best basketball of the year, while the Trail Blazers come in limping with Brandon Roy out after undergoing knee surgery. With some many good teams in the West, health is a key factor, and the Blazers are anything but healthy. The Suns are on a roll and should be able to move in quickly.
Celtics in 7
At times this year the Celtics have looked like the team that won the NBA Championship two years ago, and at others they looked disinterested and lost games they should have easily won. If they have any games like the latter they won’t be moving on to the next round, as Dwyane Wade of the Heat will be the best player on the court throughout the series. However, during the regular season the Celtics had no problem with the Heat, winning all three games. It won’t be that easy now but the Celtics will survive a 7th game.
Jazz in 6
This series could come down to who defends their turf best as both teams are solid teams at home. Down the stretch, things have been tough for the Nuggets who have dealt with injuries and the absence of Coach George Karl. As the playoffs begin Karl hopes to return soon, but without their leader it may be tough getting past the Jazz as these two evenly matched teams won’t need much to tip the balance. Look for the Jazz to find a way to slip by in six games.