Found April 19, 2013 on Sports Blog Net:
Two words could easily sum up the 2013 NBA playoffs: Miami Heat. The biggest story of the tournament will be how Miami fares against its respective opponents. However, many other prevalent story lines will accompany the East's number one team's quest for back-to-back titles. The New York Knicks are seeking their first championship in forty years, but will need to great past Lebron and Co. to do so. A Melo-Lebron matchup would certainly be a memorable one. Then there is the Curious Case of Derrick Rose. The Bulls' superstar has been sidelined with a torn ACL and hasn't played since the injury in game one of his series against the 76ers almost one full year ago. A Rose-less Bulls squad is not one that will contend for a Finals appearance. But if Chicago has the former MVP in their lineup, they will be able to challenge Miami in a possible second round clash. In the Western Conference, the Thunder reign supreme; with their two-headed monster of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook taking the West by storm. Some pundits say that San Antonio can take down the defending Conference champs, but I say that there's no chance; especially if Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili aren't 100% healthy. The only other team I see posing a threat to the top two is the Denver Nuggets. The key to their success is Ty Lawson, who is shooting at a much higher percentage and scoring three more points per-game since the all-star break. So, without further-ado, here are my picks for the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs. EASTERN CONFERENCE 1. Miami Heat 8. Milwaukee Bucks No disrespect to the Bucks, but they aren't even on the same planet as the Heatles right now. Anything more than six games should be considered a win for Milwaukee. My pick: Heat in four 2. New York Knicks 7. Boston Celtics Not the best luck for the 'Bockers as they draw their biggest rival, and the most battle-tested team in the East for their opening round matchup. While a Knick win seems likely, the Celts will not make it easy for Anthony to make it out of the first round for just the second time in ten seasons. If Pierce and KG can steal a game at MSG, Knicks fans should beware of a possible upset. My pick: Knicks in six. 3. Indiana Pacers 6. Atlanta Hawks This is probably the least-intriguing series of the round of 16. No real stars, major story lines, or rivalries. I think the Pacers' outstanding defense will propel them into a tilt with the Knicks in the next round. My pick: Pacers in five. 4. Brooklyn Nets 5. Chicago Bulls. As I me tinned earlier, the Bulls' hopes in this postseason rests on Derrick Rose. Regardless of his return, this will be a physical, grind-it-out type of series. The probable lack of a good point guard for the Bulls will be the difference, as Deron Williams will lead the Nets to their first playoff series win in Brooklyn. WESTERN CONFERENCE 1. Oklahoma City Thunder 8. Houston Rockets The major headline coming into this matchup will be James Harden going up against the team that traded him away just days prior to the season opener. Even though Harden will have added motivation to stick it to his former squad, OKC's star power will lead them past Houston. My pick: Thunder in five. 2. San Antonio Spurs 7. Los Angeles Lakers Arguably the best chance for a big upset comes in this series when the injury-depleted Spurs clash with the red hot Lakers. LA has tons of momentum heading into the postseason, while the Spurs are 10-9 in their last nineteen. Although the two teams seem headed in opposite directions, Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan's playoff savvy will prevail. My pick: Spurs in six 3. Denver Nuggets 6. Golden State Warriors This one will be a very fast-paced, high tempo series in which Stephen Curry must play tremendously in order for GSW to pull out the upset. I think Denver's balanced scoring gives them the edge. My pick: Nuggets in six 4. Los Angeles Clippers 5. Memphis Grizzlies A rematch of a seven-game clash from last year. This one will prove to be just as exciting as last year. The Grizzlies will do their best to slow the tempo down, but Lob City will advance in a very close series in which home-court advantage for the Clips will loom large. My pick: Clippers in seven.
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