The first round of last year’s NBA playoffs was addiction for many fans, as an unprecedented five out of the eight series went to Game 7s. So far, the first hit of the playoff drug has been less potent, as six out of the eight top seeds won their first game.
Out of the two who didn’t, Portland lost to a Memphis team that actually has a better record than them (#abolishdivisions), and the Raptors went down in overtime to the five-seed Wizards. Has the first round excitement regressed back toward the mean? Hopefully not! Here’s my optimistic outlook on which series have the best chance of making it to a Game 7.
1. No. 4 Toronto vs. No. 5 Washington
This series pits teams whose best players are point guards, whose two-guards are promising but inconsistent and whose centers look like they eat nails for breakfast, without any milk of course.
Wait there’s more! Both teams also sputtered down the stretch to disappointing finishes. What once looked like a potential dark horse Eastern Conference finals matchup after the first month of the season, now looks more like a long, and I mean loooong, first round series.
The first game ended in a tight overtime battle where neither team eclipsed 100 points. I am not looking forward to the inevitable six more games of this.
2. No. 3 Los Angeles Clippers vs. No. 6 San Antonio
Despite the Clippers Game 1 blowout, expect this one to be a long series as well, but infinitely more exciting than the Raptors vs. Wizards matchup. The Clippers blitzed the Spurs Sunday, as Blake Griffin and Chris Paul sent a message that while they whine worse than a gassy baby, they can actually ball too.
However, the Spurs are the Spurs, and it would be foolish to think they would just fall over. If the Toronto vs. Washington series has you depressed, this series should be your Prozac.
3. No. 2 Houston vs. No. 7 Dallas
It’s hard to see a Rick Carlisle team that still has Dirk Nowitzki playing well go down quickly, which is why I think this series will go at least six. The Rockets shot 28 more free throws than the Mavs en route to a 10-point Game 1 victory, but expect that disparity to go away, and expect the Mavs to be hungrier in game two against their in-state rival.
4. No. 4 Portland vs. No. 5 Memphis
Memphis absolutely owned Portland in Game 1, and if Arron Afflalo doesn’t return, Rip City could be R.I.P. very quickly. However, Afflalo is expected back, and that should definitely make the rest of the series more competitive as LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard still exist. Still, after Wes Matthews went down, the Blazers just don’t look the same, and I can’t see this series going past six games.
5. No. 3 Chicago vs. No. 6 Milwaukee
If Derrick Rose plays the way he did in Game 1, and more importantly, actually plays, then this one could be over in a flash for the young Bucks. However, Rose has yet to play consistently at all when healthy, and that leaves enough room for the Bucks to maybe snag a game or two in Giannis’ playoff debut.
6. No. 1 Golden State vs No. 8 New Orleans
The Warriors are going to win this series. However, Anthony Davis will most likely prevent a sweep from occurring. Super freaks don’t get swept. If Davis puts the whole state of Louisiana on his back and puts up a quintuple double to snag a game, I don’t think the country would be shocked. Don’t worry Brow, your time will come soon.
7. No. 1 Atlanta vs No. 8 New Jersey
The Hawks hyper-effective machine won a closer than expected Game 1, but they also shot a lower percentage from the field than the mediocre Nets, who should thank geography they’re in the playoffs in the first place. The Hawks could drop a game, but the depressing Nets don’t inspire me to believe that. Get the brooms ready, Atlanta.
8. No. 2 Cleveland vs No. 7 Boston
Another team that has geography to thank for their playoff experience, the Celtics don’t stand a chance against LeBron and company. Have fun with another nice mini vacation between the first and second rounds, LeBron.
Does this year's first round still have promise? Email Rushad at email@example.com and give him your predictions.