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2015 NBA Playoffs First Round Predictions

By Tamberlyn Richardson
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2015 NBA Playoffs First Round Predictions

Apr 8, 2015; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Markel Brown (22) defends against Atlanta Hawks guard Kyle Korver (26) during first half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Record: 38-44                                     Record: 60-22

Atlantic: 3rd, last ten 6-4                                Southwest: 2nd, last ten 5-5

Eastern Conference Eight Seed                        Eastern Conference First Seed

Although the Nets will offer some resistance in their front court size, the Hawks simply have too much for Brooklyn to handle. Hawks might bring their brooms, but we’ll give the Nets one just in case Lionel Hollins has some ice water ready to spill. Hawks in 5

Mar 3, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) dribbles against Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley (0) in the second quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Record: 40-42                                    Record: 53-29

Atlantic: 2nd, last ten 8-2                                Central: 1st, last ten 7-3

Eastern Conference Seventh Seed                        Eastern Conference Second Seed

Once again everyone assumes the brooms should be brought out. I’m actually picking this series to go longer for a couple reasons. The Cavaliers sat players in what most people assumed was an effort to get the Celtics in the first round. I see it differently; Boston’s front court is the smallest of the three teams that were competing for the 7th and 8th seed so Cleveland was hedging their bets trying to ensure Atlanta would end up having to face one of the larger front courts. Here’s the thing by allowing Boston to gain confidence… they now have confidence!

The other reason is I suspect head coach Brad Stevens has another rabbit in his hat. He’s performed so many miracles with this Celtic squad I’m anxious to see what he can do in the post season which is more reflective of what an NCAA tournament where he’s excelled.

Thirdly, this will be the first post season experience for Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving and while I don’t doubt they’ll be able to get past their initial jitters the one area of Boston’s defense which does excel is their defense of the back court. They are extremely aggressive in pressuring the ball and will answer the question Mr. Irving was so anxious to discover in pre-season “Is this what the playoffs are like?” In addition, neither Irving or Love have proven themselves to be able to play through injury.

And finally, Boston Celtics fans will be ready to support their bean town team.

While I don’t expect the Cavaliers to be upset I do believe they’ll be tested more than people think, Cav’s in 6.

Apr 18, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) passes the ball away from Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (21) during the fourth quarter in game one of the first round of the 2015 NBA Playoffs at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Record:  41-41                                     Record: 50-32

Central: 3rd, last ten 5-5                                Central: 2nd, last ten 7-3

Eastern Conference Sixth Seed                       Eastern Conference Third Seed

 Bulls in 6

Apr 18, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Washington Wizards forward Paul Pierce (34) keeps the ball away from Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) in game one of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Air Canada Centre. Washington defeated Toronto 93-86. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Record: 46-36                                     Record: 49-33

Southeast: 3rd, last ten 6-4                                Atlantic : 1st, last ten 7-3

Eastern Conference: Fifth Seed                        Eastern Conference Fourth Seed

Forget the fact the Raptors swept the regular season series. Never mind that Bradley Beal missed two of those games or that his claim that he and Wall were the best back court in the NBA. Regardless of whatever Paul Pierce thinks “IT” is there is one factor to remember the Raptors entered the post season on a hotter streak, have a more explosive offense and have been tweaking their defense while two of their better defenders were healing (Amir Johnson and Kyle Lowry). And sure there is the whole We The North Contingent, who won’t just be inside and outside the Air Canada Center … they’ll show up in Washington too (bet on it). The difference in this series comes down to CHEMISTRY and the Raptors have that. Veteran players who’ve come over say they’ve never experienced it like this (note: Chuck Hayes was the leader on the Rockets team who went on a 22 game win streak). Lots of pundits think it’ll go seven and yeah it’s my home town team but I believe the Raptors will take it in 6.

April 18, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) dribbles the basketball against New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) during the third quarter in game one of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Pelicans 106-99. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Record: 45-37                                     Record: 67-15

Southwest: 5th, last ten 7-3                                Pacific: 1st, last ten 8-2

Western Conference Eight Seed                       Western Conference First Seed

Anthony Davis wins one all his own and the Pelicans are healthiest they’ve been all season. Still, if GSW crush the Pelicans by 20+ in game one we might need brooms instead. Warriors in 5

Apr 18, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons (25) drives the ball during the third quarter as Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) defends in game one of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Record: 50-32                                     Record: 56-26

Southwest: 4th, last ten 5-5                                Southwest: 1st, last ten 7-3

Western Conference Seventh Seed                        Western Conference Second Seed

Rockets in 6, complete series break down here

February 19, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) controls the ball against the defense of Los Angeles Clippers forward Matt Barnes (22) during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Record: 55-27                                     Record: 56-26

Southwest: 3rd, last ten 9-1                                Pacific: 2nd, last ten 9-1

Western Conference Sixth Seed                        Western Conference Third Seed

Expected to be the premiere series of the first round with the Spurs looking to do something they yet to accomplish in the Tim Duncan era which is to win back to back Championships. They are healthy and Kawhi Leonard is back in MVP form. Conversely Chris Paul is the best active point guard to not recognize a championship. Failure to advance will may dictate breaking up the big 3. If you’ve followed my weekly power ranking you know I’m not a fan of the team, Blake Griffin or all the complaining this team does while simultaneously delivering cheap shots and flops. The Spurs bring Manu Ginobili, Patty Mills, Corey Joseph, Boris Diaw etc, etc, etc off their bench the Clippers counter with Jamal Crawford … that’s it. People are calling for a 7 game series but unless the zebra’s gift the Clippers I see the Spurs taking this in 6

Feb 22, 2015; Portland, OR, USA; Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) defends Portland Trail Blazers center Chris Kaman (35) at Moda Center at the Rose Quarter. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Record: 51-31                                                   Record: 55-27

Northwest: 1st, last ten 4-6                                Southwest: 2nd, last ten 5-5

Western Conference Fourth Seed                        Western Conference Fifth Seed

This should be called the “Limp Series” both teams are decimated however Portland much more so given the loss of their heart and soul shooting guard Wesley Matthews. His equal partner in x-factor-dom Nic Batum is also injured, but playing through it like he has for most of the season. It’s somewhat disappointing as the Trail Blazers have consistently fielded one of the best starting 5 in the Association. Then at the trade deadline they finally got the bench support required to give them depth only to see the injuries begin to accumulate. On the injury front Memphis hasn’t fared much better as several core players are nursing injuries: Conley (planter fasciitis), Tony Allen has a hamstring issue and although ZBo and Gasol aren’t being listed with injuries they are both suffering from minor afflictions.  As much as Damian Lillard has the potential to go off and hit big shots and unfortunately for Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge this match-up doesn’t give him the advantage other possible match-ups could have. Neither team resembles anything close to their best that had each of them in the top of the West for a good part of the season. While Portland have the 4 seed they start on the road by virtue of the Grizzlies holding a better record. I’m literally at a loss on how many games this series will take given anyone could drop at any given moment, let’s say Grizz in 6

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