- Atlanta over Brooklyn – short series. 4 or 5 games.
- Cleveland over Boston – short series. 4 or 5 games.
- Chicago over Milwaukee – medium length series. 5 or 6 games.
- Toronto over Washington – long series. 6 or 7 games.
The Raptors vs Wizards series is the only series in the East that I think will be closely fought. To be honest, it is the only series in the East that I am looking forward to seeing in the first round. I expect the Bulls to toy with the Bucks and let them hang around longer than they should but ultimately take care of business. Chicago has too much talent for the Milwaukee. The Hawks and Cavs should have comfortable series wins against vastly inferior opponents.
- Golden State over New Orleans – short series. 4 or 5 games.
- Houston over Dallas – medium length series. 5 or 6 games.
- San Antonio over LA Clippers – medium length series. 5 or 6 games.
- Memphis over Portland – medium length series. 5 or 6 games.
The Golden State vs New Orleans series is the only first round matchup in the West that I am confident will be a comfortable win. The Warriors togetherness and teamwork on both ends of the court will be too much for the Pelicans who are still only a bunch of individuals wearing the same shirt rather than a real team that plays together.The other three series should be reasonably competitive and have some good battles. The LA Clippers dysfunctional supporting cast should cost them against a well-oiled machine like San Antonio. Portland has been struggling as of late. I don’t think Memphis has quite found their rhythm either but they are in much better shape heading into the playoffs. Pity Portland lost Wes Matthews to a season ending injury. I think that loss is enough to steadily tilt things in Memphis’ favour.
I find the Rockets vs Mavericks one a difficult one to call. I think the Rockets defense is excellent but I dislike their offense. It is far too predictable and reliant on James Harden. It is lacking in ball movement and I think it’ll be found out in the playoffs. The question is whether Dallas is a good enough team to take advantage of this. Their PG rotation was already one of the weakest in the league (amongst playoff teams) prior to Pat Beverley getting injured. Now Motiejunas is out too. Houston will not make out of the West. It is just a question of how long they last until someone knocks them out. The Mavericks are in bad shape themselves. The Rondo-experiement hasn’t worked out. Their bench depth is troubling. Too much reliance on small backcourts and undersized frontcourt combinations. Outside of Tyson Chandler, they have no interior defense. Lots of problems. Still, Rondo has been fantastic in the playoffs in the past and part of me is hoping he winds back the clock and puts on a show once again. Dirk has a good opportunity for a big series. With Dwight Howard missing so much time with injury, who knows, maybe Tyson Chandler can stop Dwight from having too much of an advantage at center. The Rockets are the more solid team and should win but if Dallas can get enough of those “maybes” to go their way, they could make things interesting.