First Round NBA Playoffs Breakdown and Predictions


he first round matchups of the 2016 NBA playoffs are officially set. First round action kicks off this weekend.

Austin McIntosh, Staff Writer

First round action of the 2016 NBA playoffs starts this weekend, and some great teams will be truly tested. The regular season ended Wednesday night with an emotional finish to the career of Kobe Bryant and finalized first round matchups. Each team has a clean slate heading into the playoffs, and history has shown that a playoff seed guarantees nothing but the advantage of home court.


Eastern Conference Predictions


1 Seed Cleveland Cavaliers vs. 8 Seed Detroit Pistons


This should be a cakewalk for the Cleveland Cavaliers considering the tear that Lebron James has been on in the last month or so. Detroit just made the playoffs for the first time since 2009, but their fans should not expect anything special from this young and inexperienced group.


Prediction: Cavs in 4


2 Seed Toronto Raptors vs. 7 Seed Indiana Pacers


This matchup is my only first round upset, but it is a major one. The Toronto Raptors won 56 games this season, which exceeded their previous franchise record of 49 wins set last season, but their defense just seems too outmatched in this one. On the other side, Indiana’s squad has a proven coach in Frank Vogel and a premier superstar in Paul George. The Pacers’ fast paced play style and ferocious defense will prove too much for Toronto.


Prediction: Pacers in 7


3 Seed Miami Heat vs. 6 Seed Charlotte Hornets


The Charlotte Hornets have been a pleasant surprise this season, but their team just isn’t equipped to match Miami’s young stud Center and my pick for Defensive Player of the Year, Hassan Whiteside. This Hornets team just does not have good enough post players to match Whiteside’s dominance. This matchup will be a nightmare for the Hornets.


Prediction: Heat in 5


4 Seed Atlanta Hawks vs. 5 Seed Boston Celtics


This is a pretty tough series to call because Boston has much better Guards than Atlanta, but Atlanta has much better big men than Boston. Atlanta’s number 2. overall ranked defense will have a tall order with Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley. This series should come down to the bench play of both teams, and the Hawks will win that by a slight margin.


Prediction: Hawks in 7


Western Conference Predictions


1 Seed Golden State Warriors vs. 8 Seed Houston Rockets


We all know that the Warriors just broke the all-time record for wins and Stephen Curry will most likely be the League MVP for the second consecutive year, but all these records that the Warriors have broken will be quickly forgotten if they don’t win it all this year. Standing in their way in the first round are the dysfunctional, but highly dangerous Houston Rockets led by James Harden. Harden will be the distant runner up for the League MVP award, and I think he will be looking for revenge against the team that knocked him off last year and the player who robbed him of the MVP award last season. This is the most intriguing of all first round matchups because the Houston Rockets are being way underrated, and they have a good chance to disrupt Golden State’. However, Golden State will win the three point shootout that is going to take place between these two teams.


Prediction: Warriors in 6


2 Seed San Antonio Spurs vs. 7 Seed Memphis Grizzlies


Expect this injury depleted Grizzlies squad to come out with heart and guts including very physical play, but San Antonio’s league leading defense and deep rotation of players will prevail. Memphis should put up a hard fight in every game, but the injuries to Marc Gasol and Mike Conley are just way too much to overcome. This Grizzlies team is feisty, so you can expect a fight in this series at some point likely involving David West. In the end, the Spurs pull away in the 4th quarter of every hard fought game to cruise to the second round.


Prediction: Spurs in 4


3 Seed Oklahoma City Thunder vs. 6 Seed Dallas Mavericks


I am hesitant to even give the Dallas Mavericks one game in this series, but I will because of their great three point shooting. I expect the Oklahoma City Thunder to hit their stride like they have shown flashes of throughout the regular season. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant will dominate this series and work hard to involve other players on their team because they will need every bit of help deeper in the playoffs. The Thunder will have many people raising their eyebrows by the end of this series because I think most people wrote them off a long time ago. At the end of this series, Oklahoma City will have proved to many that they are very much in title contention.


Prediction: Thunder in 5


4 Seed Los Angeles Clippers vs. 5 Seed Portland Trail Blazers


A 4th seed versus a 5th seed matchup is usually a pretty exciting and evenly matched series, but that will not be the case with this one. Portland had a good season despite losing four of their five starters in free agency during last offseason, but the Clippers are well coached by Doc Rivers and well-orchestrated by Chris Paul. Damian Lillard and C.J. Mccollum will play big for Portland in this series, but they just will not have much help. This series could also get real ugly if Portland decides to use the hack-a Jordan method to increase their chances of hanging in with the Los Angeles. There will be a couple three plus hour games in this series due to that. I’m going to go way out on a limb and say that Deandre Jordan will shoot considerably better from the free-throw line than we are accustomed to seeing because if he can, then his team will become an instant contender.


Prediction: Clippers in 6