Durant, LeBron, Kobe, Rose, Westbrook, CP3, Blake Griffin, Rondo, Carmelo, and Dirk are some of the names that will be contending for a title in this year's playoffs. I believe that this will be a year that shows the power shift in the NBA. Feel free to comment with your opinion, and here you go: my picks in 2012. Let the games begin!
Round 1 Games:
San Antonio (1) vs. Utah Jazz (8)
Greg Popovich will keep his guys from taking this round for granted and Parker, Manu, and Duncan will take care of business quickly. San Antonio will win easily.
Series: Spurs 4, Jazz 0
Memphis Grizzlies (4) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (5)
This should be a high quality series with some high-flyers in Rudy Gay and the exciting Blake Griffin show. Two solid teams, but Memphis’ team play and familiarity with each other will ultimately beat one of the two Hollywood teams with two All Star starters.
Series: Grizzlies 4, Clippers 2
Los Angeles Lakers (3) vs. Denver Nuggets (6)
Metta World Peace’s brief absence will provide a glimpse of false light for the Nuggets. The Lakers will still be too much with Kobe, Bynum, and Pau.
Series: Lakers 4, Nuggets 1
Oklahoma City Thunder (2) vs. Dallas Mavericks (7)
A rematch of the 2011 Western Conference semifinals will go in favor of an OKC team with some recently acquired playoff experience. Durant and Westbrook will take care of business with the aging and complacent Mavericks.
Series: Thunder 4, Mavericks 1
Chicago Bulls (1) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (8)
Rose and Co. will handle the new A.I. and a Sixers team that has no prolific scorer.
Series: Bulls 4, 76ers 0
Boston Celtics (4) vs. Atlanta Hawks (5)
Somehow these teams always manage to match up in the playoffs and the Celtics squeak by. That shouldn’t change if the original Big Three plays anything like they have been and with Rondo facilitating the Celtics will make it to the Conference Semifinals in a competitive, physical series in the opening round’s only series that goes to seven games.
Series: Celtics 4, Hawks 3
Indiana Pacers (3) vs. Orlando Magic (6)
The Stan Van Gundy saga will end terribly and Larry Bird’s up and coming Indiana Pacers team will show that they can make some noise in the playoffs. Roy Hibbert will continue to develop into a force in the post.
Series: Pacers 4, Magic 1
Miami Heat (2) vs. New York Knicks (7)
LeBron will show why he was the MVP and gain some playoff confidence in the opening round against Linsanity-less New York Knicks. Carmelo can’t contend with the new Big Three.
Series: Heat 4, Knicks 1
Western Conference Semifinals
San Antonio Spurs (1) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (4)
The aging Spurs versus a young Grizzlies team would appear to make an interesting series but the experienced Spurs will slow down the game to their pace, making a high percentage of field goals and getting it done in the second round.
Series: Spurs 4, Grizzlies 2
Oklahoma City Thunder (2) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (3)
This will be one of the most exciting series in the playoffs prior to the Finals. Two of the top three scorers in the game (Durant and Bryant) will go head to head in a thrilling seven game series. Kobe will take too many shots in a series that is winnable for the Lakers if Bynum and Gasol get more shots and prevent the Thunder from transition baskets.
Series: Thunder 4, Lakers 3
Eastern Conference Semifinals
Chicago Bulls (1) vs. Boston Celtics (4)
In another exciting series of excellent all around basketball, Chicago will show they do not have the ability to compete deeper into the playoffs. A younger, more defensively oriented Bulls team will drop a to Pierce and a determined Celtics team in what may be the last year the Big Three make a deep playoff push.
Series: Celtics 4, Bulls 3
Miami Heat (2) vs. Indiana Pacers (3)
The Pacers are too inexperienced and don’t have the scoring ability of the well-rounded Heat. Indiana’s excellent team play will escape a sweep, but barely.
Series: Heat 4, Pacers 1
Western Conference Finals
San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Youth and athleticism will outplay experience in the Western Conference Finals. Oklahoma City will get their first shot at the NBA Finals this year and continue to show the future of the NBA is in good hands.
Thunder 4, Spurs 2
Eastern Conference Finals
Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics
Just like the Spurs, the Celtics are too old to compete with the future of the NBA. As much as I would like the Celtics to pull off an upset, the Heat are simply more talented and have a dynamic duo in Wade and LBJ. The Celtics will get a game, but the team from South Beach will dominate otherwise.
Series: Heat 4, Celtics 1
Miami Heat vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
I’m sticking with my preseason pick for the NBA Finals matchup – and I also think my preseason pick to win it all will come through. Durant and Westbrook will put up solid numbers, but don’t have the ability just yet to come through in the clutch. LeBron wants it this year and has learned he needs to take the game into his own hands like he did in Cleveland when he took the Cavs to the Finals virtually singlehandedly. He has the Finals experience and supporting cast to get it done. LeBron will come through in the clutch in a series with four of the NBA’s young elite battling for the Larry O’Brien trophy. LeBron will hoist it for the first time after impressive play in Game 7 of a thrilling Finals series.
Series: Heat 4, Thunder 3