The NBA playoffs are back and after a weekend filled with exciting matchups, I think it’s safe to say the road to the Larry O’Brien trophy will not disappoint this year. Some series might play out exactly how we all expect them to, but I’m not so sure that it’s going to be chalk all the way through. With that being said, here are some bold predictions for each of the first-round series moving forward:
Milwaukee Bucks v. Miami Heat
After completely shitting the bed against the Atlanta Hawks, the Heat bounced back nicely against the Bulls and carried that momentum right on over to their game against the Bucks on Sunday. Sure, Giannis only logged eleven minutes due to an early injury, but the win is still impressive against a very deep Milwaukee Bucks team. I think the Bucks will still get it done in the end, but Jimmy Butler and the Heat won’t go down without a fight; Bucks in 7.
Boston Celtics v. Atlanta Hawks
The Boston Celtics looked just as good on Saturday as the NBA world believes them to be. With no answer for the slashing Celtic offense, the Hawks seem completely undermanned, lacking the experience necessary to make this series competitive. Trae Young is talented enough to single-handedly win one game for Atlanta, but that will be it; Celtics in 5.
Philadelphia 76ers v. Brooklyn Nets
It’s never easy to trust James Harden in the playoffs, but he truly shined in game one against the Nets, knocking down 7 threes in a dominant victory. While I am a firm believer that Mikal Bridges will eventually become a perennial all-star, I don’t think he will be able to stop the freight-train duo that is Embiid and Harden. Philly advances effortlessly; 76ers in 4.
Cleveland Cavaliers v. New York Knicks
In arguably one of, if not the best game of the weekend, Donovan Mitchell and Jalen Brunson battled head-to-head in just the first installment in what I believe will be the most electric series of the first round. The Knicks fended off a late run by the Cavs to steal game one in Cleveland, but I don’t think Donovan Mitchell will let that happen again. Cavs win game two in Cleveland, ending the series at home in an overtime game seven win to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals; Cavs in 7.
Denver Nuggets v. Minnesota Timberwolves
It seems to be a widespread consensus that the Nuggets have little chance to win the finals this year, let alone a second-round match-up against the Phoenix Suns (if they even make it there). But, the Nuggets lived up to their number-one seed last night in a complete dismantling of the Timberwolves with absolute control on both sides of the floor. I think the Nuggets will do Minnesota a favor and end their cluster of a season quickly; Nuggets in 4.
Memphis Grizzlies v. Los Angeles Lakers
While I’ll admit I’m the furthest thing away from a “Bronsexual”, the Lakers were nothing but fun to watch against the Grizzlies on Sunday. Unlikely heroes Rui Hachimura and Austin Reeves somehow give a team with LeBron James and Anthony Davis the “underdog factor” that you can’t help but root for. I had my doubts going into the playoffs about the Lakers, but I don’t think LeBron will let his team go home early; Lakers in 7.
Sacramento Kings v. Golden State Warriors
Light the beam! The Sacramento Kings broke a seventeen-year playoff win drought on Saturday with a close victory against Steph and the Golden State Warriors. For many, the Kings might just seem to be a feel-good story, but I think they are legit. De’Aaron Fox is playing at an All-NBA level and the Kings don’t seem to have any fear whatsoever; Kings in 6.
Phoenix Suns v. Los Angeles Clippers
Next to the Bucks, the Phoenix Suns were a popular championship pick heading into the playoffs, but don’t discount the Clips. While they clearly miss Paul George, the Clippers still have solid depth and definitely aren’t a team you can mess around with. With that being said, the talent between Kevin Durant and Devin Booker, along with the extensive experience of Chris Paul, is more than enough to win four games against this Clippers squad; Suns in 6.