Best First Round Series
Mike Yazigi: For the first time in recent memory, the NBA playoffs have some interesting 1st round match-ups. The most popular one is the match-up between the two MVP candidates, James Harden and his Houston Rockets take on Russell Westbrook and his Oklahoma City Thunder. This match-up could easily go 7 games, and should be an exciting series. There are other intriguing series in the first round, like the Cavaliers/Pacers, Wizards/Hawks. The first round of these playoffs could be one to remember with many exciting match-ups.
Keith Manze: With several enticing first round match-ups, the most intriguing to me has to be Atlanta vs Washington. Atlanta was HOT to end the season, winning four of five with three of those being against the Celtics (once) and the Cavaliers (twice). The Wizards won the season series 3-1 and John Wall is setting career bests in several categories, but don’t expect Atlanta to get rolled.
Possible Match-ups to Look Forward to
MY: Warriors/Clippers in the 2nd round: this is purely based on if both these teams advance to the 2nd round. And it’s probably easier said than done for the Clippers, who have disappointed in the playoffs every year. This may be the last shot for the Clippers to make a title run after so many playoff failures recently. This match-up would not be short on star power with Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green. This potential series could be a legendary match-up.
KM: If the Rockets and Spurs meet in the second round, things could get spicy. San Antonio swept the season series 3-0 but that wouldn’t faze Houston. The Rockets have only made it out of the first round once in the James Harden era. Think he has something to prove? (Also, go Ryan Anderson!)
Who wins it all?
MY: Although the Cavaliers are struggling heading into the playoffs. I expect a LeBron James-led team to make it to the NBA Finals for a 7th straight season (4 times with Miami and this would be 3 with Cleveland) by defeating the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals in 6 games. In the West, I have to go with the best team in the league in the Warriors. They lost superstar Kevin Durant for an extended period of time to end the year, and got him back with a few games to play and the team looked in sync. I expect the Warriors to defeat MVP runner-up James Harden and the Houston Rockets in a 7 game series. As for the NBA Finals, we get a trilogy. Warriors/Cavs III. I like the Cavs to win this series in 6 games, only because the Warriors don’t have as much depth as they have had the previous 2 match-ups against the Cavs, and that will prove to be costly in the Finals. Cavs in 6.
KM: Yuck. I hate picking what other people pick. The Spurs use some devil magic and beat the Warriors in 7. Boston struggles with the winner of the 4 vs 5 and win in 7, but fall to the Cavs in 7, with Isiah Thomas missing a potential series-clinching three pointer in game 6. Cavs then annihilate the Spurs (with no help from the refs) and win the series, with LeBron putting up god numbers but Kyrie plays better, earning him the Finals MVP award. Cavs in 5.