With the 2012-2013 regular season in the rear view mirror, our Wizards watching days have come to a screeching halt for the summer months. But with some of the best first round series in recent memory, the Wizards staff here at Blog So Hard is ready to give you our first round predictions and championship picks for the 2013 NBA Playoffs which kick off this Saturday. Participating in the predictions will be Darren Carter (@RoachSanderson4), Pasquale Prezioso (@PasqualeGMP), Trevor Jackson (@tjackson85), and Cory Grubbs (@CoryGrubbs10). We will be doing updates with new predictions for each round.
Feel free to give us your predictions in the comments section below.
So let’s not waste anytime and dig right in!
EASTERN CONFERENCE 1ST ROUND MATCH-UPS
#1 Miami Heat VS #8 Milwaukee Bucks
Darren – Teams like the Bucks making the playoffs only strengthen the narrative that the NBA should not have more teams make the playoffs than don’t. Perhaps a 1st round bye for the top seed. Heat in four.
Pasquale – Much like the ’67 76ers ruled the Space Age or the ’86 Celtics were in charge of the Reagan Era, this Heat team may be this generation’s finest. Plus, as Ryan Braun can attest, nothing good happens to Milwaukee pro athletes in Miami. The Bucks backcourt is fun, but Miami takes this in an easy four.
Trevor – I am calling it now, the David vs. Goliath upset of the century. The Bucks have……oh who am I kidding, I don’t know if Milwaukee will even be close in any of these games. Heats fans everywhere will be rejoicing in the sweep. Miami in 4.
Cory – Well this is going to be total domination. I’m almost glad that the Wizards didn’t slip into the 8th seed because its going to be hard to slow down the freight train they call Lebro…I mean the Heat. I don’t see any of these games being within 10 points, unless they literally put a sewer cap on whatever rim Miami is shooting at. Heat with the sweep in four.
#2 New York Knicks VS #7 Boston Celtics
Darren – A couple months ago I could confidently say the Knicks will win this series but now with all the injuries, thus the Knicks’ lack of size, it’s no longer so clear cut. I don’t think Carmelo can carry the entire team on his back in a 7 game series against a prideful, savvy, well coached, and because of recent events, inspired Celtics team. Melo only getting out of the 1st round once in his entire career continues. Celtics in six.
Pasquale – Boston is running on emotion, playing with an injured star and for an injured city. The Knicks pack quite the offensive punch thanks to scoring champ Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith coming off the bench. The Celtics will give New York a fight, especially at TD BankNorth Garden, but the Knicks will prevail in six games.
Trevor – I think this is going to turn out to be one of the better matchups in the 1st round. I seem to always write Boston off thinking they are too old, much like the Spurs, and seem to always be wrong. With all the latest events in Boston, I could see the Celtics playing some inspired ball. That being said, I don’t think they have enough to get past the Knicks’ offense. I am taking the Knicks in 7.
Cory – My heart goes out to all those in Boston. And for the Knicks when they have to play in Boston. The fans of Boston are going to blow the lid of the TD Garden and will probably be the loudest crowd of these first round match-ups. That being said, I can’t see the Celts losing in Boston, and I believe that The Truth and The Big Ticket earn one more playoff series victory together. Celtics in seven.
#3 Indiana Pacers VS #6 Atlanta Hawks
Darren – The Hawks continue their several year reign as the “worst good team” in the league again this year. The combination of the Pacers being a better team plus the Hawks beating themselves equals a relatively easy 1st round win for the Pacers. Pacers =a legitimate team. Hawks = a bootleg team. Pacers in five.
Pasquale – Thanks to the breakout season of Paul George, the Pacers have been able to recover from the loss of Danny Granger (knee injury) and maintain the top defense in the league. Atlanta has been in the process of retooling their roster, and over half their roster are soon-to-be free agents this coming off-season, most notably All-Star Josh Smith. While the Hawks have overachieved, Indiana will be able to smother their offense and be victorious 4-1.
Trevor – I still don’t know if I 100% believe in the Indiana Pacers, but I do believe in them enough to get past the Hawks. I don’t know what it is about Atlanta, but they always seem to be counterfeit contenders. They are stuck in the NBA purgatory of good, but not real good. I see the Pacers riding Paul George, Roy Hibbert, and David West to a relatively easy win. I could easily see it going 5 games, but am going to say Pacers in 6.
Cory – I love this Pacers team. They have a bunch of hard-working dudes, great size, and a star in the making in Paul George. Indiana is the only team in the East that can really challenge the Heat in my opinion and I don’t see Atlanta having much of a chance in this one. The Hawks have had 12 games against Playoff teams (sans the Bucks) since March 1st and only won two of them. Frank Vogel will have this Pacers squad dialed in. Indiana in four.
#4 Brooklyn Nets VS #5 Chicago Bulls
Darren –The Nets are the new/more “popular” Atlanta Hawks team. On paper they should be doing better but somewhat underachieves and are often times inconsistent. The Bulls defense allows every game to be winnable for them and they are the best road team in the East. Bulls in six.
Pasquale – An eventful first season for the Nets in Brooklyn, complete with an All-Star berth for Brook Lopez, caps off with a playoff spot with home court in the first round. The Bulls have still stayed at a winning pace even without Derrick Rose thanks to Luol Deng and Joakim Noah. While Rose won’t play in this series, Chicago will survive the Nets 4-3.
Trevor – In what should be considered the “who gets to lose to the Heat next round” match-up, I could see this being an entertaining series. It is almost like a showdown of total opposite teams. The Nets have the superstar and star names but are underachievers. The Bulls have been winning with defense and over-achieving players while surviving without their star Derrick Rose. I believe Chicago will steal one of the first games in Brooklyn, and go on to win 4-2 in six.
Cory – This might be the toughest first round series of them all to pick. Tom Thibodeau is hands down my coach of the year. He’s led this Bulls team to the 5th seed without former MVP Derrick Rose. The Bulls defense is top notch, but the Nets have been playing some great basketball lately going 7-2 in April. As I’m typing this I’m still undecided who will win this series, but it doesn’t really matter because the winner gets put on a tee for Miami next round. The Bulls took the regular season series 3-1. The Nets get revenge in the Playoffs to the tune of 4-3 because they aren’t missing their star point guard.
WESTERN CONFERENCE 1ST ROUND MATCH-UPS
#1 Oklahoma City Thunder VS #8 Houston Rockets
Darren – New drinking game: Drink every time the broadcasters mention the James Harden/OKC connection during the games throughout this series. The media will hype this one up for sure but it won’t quite live up to it. Harden by himself can maybe will this Rockets team to, a max, couple of victories in Houston but that’s about it. The Thunder have too many offensive weapons and superior size for the Rockets to handle. Thunder in six.
Pasquale – Thanks to the trade for James Harden, the signing of Jeremy Lin, and the shrewd drafting of Chandler Parsons, Houston is a team that can outscore almost anyone every night. The reason why I say almost is because trying to put up more points than Oklahoma City, a team with both Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, is futile. The Thunder win 4-1. (P.S. If only you could put Harden on the Thunder. That team could beat the Heat. I’m surprised no one’s ever thought of this before….)
Trevor – I still can’t believe the Thunder gave up James Harden. I still can’t believe the Thunder gave up James Harden. I still can’t believe the Thunder gave up James Harden. This should be a great battle to watch, as you know Harden will be bringing his A+ game every night. As a woeful Wizard fan, I adopted the Thunder a few years ago as my secondary team, and was looking forward to their big 3 battling the Heat for the Championship this year. Sadly we won’t get to see it, but luckily for us we should see an entertaining 1st round series. I think the Rockets have enough to give the Thunder some fits, but ultimately not enough to put it together for 4 wins. Thunder in 6.
Cory – James Harden is a spectacular talent, but the Thunder had to trade him. Luckily for the Rockets, their years of stock piling assets finally paid off and they were able to land The Great Bearded One. And thankfully for us basketball fans we get to see a Thunder-Rockets series in the first round. The Rockets are on the upswing for sure, but I only see one team that can potentially stop Durant and Westbrook and that team is in the East. I believe Harden will catch fire and drop 50 in one of his return games to OKC, but that will be their only win. The Thunder take this easily in 4-1 fashion.
#2 San Antonio Spurs VS #7 Los Angeles Kobes Lakers
Darren – If Kobe wasn’t hurt I would have picked the Lakers to upset the Ginobli-less and Parker-hobbled Spurs team. But since that is not the case, Ginobli-less Spurs > Kobe-less Lakers. Spurs in six.
Pasquale – Every season since 2000 has seemingly had two constants: Tim Duncan dominates and Gregg Popovich is a coaching mastermind. And the Lakers…I truly wish the Greek poet Homer or Shakespeare were alive today to see what tales those two could create based on the season L.A. has had. The Spurs will end the roller coaster of a year the Lakers have been having in five.
Trevor – There is just too much Timmmmmyyy! Duncan will hold down the fort for the Spurs as they shouldn’t have a problem ousting the Kobe-less Lakers. The Spurs need to get healed up, and could benefit from ending this thing as early as possible and getting a few more days rest. Spurs win 4-1.
Cory – Without Kobe, I just can’t see the Lakers winning a playoff series this postseason. Steve Nash hasn’t played a game since March and I just can’t see a hobbled Nash or Steve Blake being able to control a game in the Lakers favor. If Nash was fully healthy I would say the Lakers could win two games. But he’s not fully healthy and Popovich will be able to shut down the Dwight Show. Spurs in four.
#3 Denver Nuggets VS #6 Golden State Warriors
Darren – I love the underdog, superstar-less teams that are inspirational, but that’s not how the world/NBA works. With Galinari out of the line up the Nuggets lose a big cog in their collective team machine. Stephen Curry and David Lee play with a chip on their shoulders for being overlooked and not being put in the same category as some of the other stars in this league. Warriors in 7.
Pasquale – For a league that you supposedly can’t win in without a true superstar, the Nuggets have been doing just fine, even going on a 15 game winning streak during the season. In Golden State, we have a fast and fresh team with the record-setting sharpshooting of Stephen Curry. Its a squad I feel that, with the exception of the Heat, Spurs, and Thunder, every team’s fan-base is envious of. However, Denver conquers the Warriors in a six game tilt that’ll make the scoreboard operators earn their pay.
Trevor – This should be a fun one to watch as there could be loads of scoring between the two teams. My heart, as well as most NBA fan’s, is with Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors. However, I think the Warriors will run out of gas and the Nuggets will win this thing in 7, behind dominant 20 point performances from JaVale McGee. Okay, that last part isn’t true, but still, Denver 4-3.
Cory – This should be a fast-paced high scoring series that will be a blast to watch. On the surface the loss of Galinari looks huge. Luckily for the Nuggets they landed Andre Iguodala in the off-season for pennies on the dollar and man has he stepped up since Galo went down. Iggy’s averages in April – 15.9 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 8.1 APG, 1 BPG, and 1.9 SPG. If it wasn’t for an overtime defeat at the hands of the Mavericks, Denver would be 8-0 in April. This is going to be a great series, but the Nuggets take this one in six.
#4 Los Angeles Clippers VS #5 Memphis Grizzlies
Darren – Memphis is a top 3 defensive team in the league so that will keep them in games. They may struggle on offense but should be able to score against an average Clipper defense. The Clipper’s lack of half court execution and no back to the basket scorers play right into the Grizzlies defensive game plan. However, veteran leaders like Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups will not let this Clippers team lose in the 1st round. Clippers in 7.
Pasquale – Memphis has been overpowering this season with their defense, not even skipping a beat when Rudy Gay was traded. The division winning (!) Clippers counter with the finest PG in the game in Chris Paul, the powerful Blake Griffin, and a superb quality bench. In what seems like a major case of déjà vu with the same teams in the same seeding match-up the Grizzlies will win in seven, the same number of games it took these two teams last year.
Trevor – This should be a good test of Defense vs. Highlight Offense. The X-factor in this series will be Chris Paul — I know I know, going out on a limb there huh. I think he is too talented and can impact the game too much to not get out of the first round. I do hope to see Zach Randolph abuse Blake Griffin in the post though. I think the Clippers get revenge on last year’s ousting to the Grizz and take it in 6.
Cory – Another great first round series that I could easily see going either way. But the Clippers have two big advantages: The league’s best PG and a VERY potent bench. These two advantages tilt the tide in the Clippers favor, but if most of the games are settled in the half-court, Memphis could just steal this series. I know the Thunder are praying this series goes to seven games, and I think it will. The Clippers prevail 4-3 to set up a lovely Westbrook/CP3 match-up in round two.
Conference Champions and Finals Prediction
**When the conference finals finally get here, we will give our predictions of how the series will end.**
Darren –East: Miami Heat. West: Oklahoma City Thunder. 2012-13 Champions: Thunder
Pasquale – For the Eastern Conference Finals, Miami will keep the Knicks at bay, but not without New York giving the Heat a scare in a game or two. Old versus new will be the theme in the Western Conference Finals, as Oklahoma City will face the Spurs again and be victorious. In the Finals, the Thunder will provide the Heat all they can handle again, but like last season, Miami takes home another crowd, with LeBron James finishing off one of the finest seasons by a player we shall ever see by being named Finals MVP.
Trevor – Miami in the East and OKC in the West. My anti-anything-Heatness kicks in here as I am taking the Thunder to win it all.
Cory – The 2013 NBA Playoffs are going to spectacular. That being said, the Conference Finals might be the weakest of all the match-ups. In the East the Heat will be matched up against the Pacers and out West the Thunder will take on the Nuggets. That will take us to an AMAZING finals rematch with the 2nd best basketball player in the world getting revenge on the best basketball player in the world. The Oklahoma City Thunder will hoist the 2013 Larry O’Brien trophy!
So there you have it. Hopefully we will get to see some very exciting match-ups in round one. Stick with us as we will be doing predictions for each round.
And as always, feel free to give us your thoughts and predictions below.