#1 Indiana Pacers vs. #8 Atlanta Hawks
The Pacers turn it back on and show the Hawks why they are the best defensive team in the NBA. Hibbert will allow the rest of the Pacers D to stay out of the paint and shut down the Hawks’ 3-point game. Pacers in 5.
Welcome back to the playoffs, Charlotte. Better luck next year. Heat in 5.
#3 Toronto Raptors vs. #6 Brooklyn Nets
The Raptors are the better team, but the Nets are loaded with playoff experience. I’ve been surprised at how consistent the Raptors have played all season, and they matchup very well against the Nets. I’m giving the elder Nets the edge in a close series. Nets in 7.
#4 Chicago Bulls vs. #5 Washington Wizards
I don’t think the young Wizards have the maturity to navigate the Bulls’ pressure defense enough to get out of this series alive. Bulls in 6.
#1 San Antonio Spurs vs. #8 Dallas Mavericks
The Spurs took the season series 4-0 vs. the Mavs and should be sitting pretty for an easy trip to the 2nd round. The Mavs just don’t have the defense to match the Spurs. Sit back and enjoy the last Dirk vs. Duncan matchup ever. Spurs in 4.
The Thunder are looking to avenge getting knocked out of the playoffs at the hands of the Grizz last year. Westbrook wasn’t there for that and having him back will help. I have a feeling that OKC will have trouble getting stops, and the Grizz will have a chance to pull the upset. Grizzlies in 6.
#3 Los Angeles Clippers vs. #6 Golden State Warriors
I think the Clippers will be able to slow down Curry and the Warriors’ shooters enough to prove to us that they are legitimate title contenders. Look for DeAndre Jordan to have a monster series. Clippers in 5.
#4 Houston Rockets vs. #5 Portland Trailblazers
This series will have tons of points and will be fun to watch. It’s time for the Rockets to step up and show how dangerous they are. Howard needs to be dominant in the playoffs. Rockets in 6.