With the NBA Playoffs set to tip off today, NLJ has you covered with Round 1 predictions from Aiden and I.
No. 1 Philadelphia 76ers vs. No. 8 Wizards:
James- Philly in 4
As the Sixers brought in Doc Rivers a lot changed for this team as a whole. More disciplined, defense oriented, and run sets beautifully. Embiid is averaging 30 and 13 against the Wizards in the regular season and I believe that Embiid can single handedly beat this team every night.
More importantly Washington is too inconsistent to make this a series. Philly will sweep this series.
Hawk’s Pick- Philadelphia 76ers in 5 Games
After a rollercoaster of a season, the Washington Wizards have slipped into this year’s NBA playoffs. Unfortunately for them, Russel Westbrook and company have to face the juggernaut that is the Philadelphia 76ers. This season alone, Joel Embiid is averaging a staggering 29 PPG and 12 RPG against the Wizards, with no one on the roster to contain him (outside of maybe Daniel Gafford) this could get ugly early for the Wiz. The pull that Joel will have on the offensive side of the ball will create shots for Danny Green, Seth Curry, and Tobias Harris. I still expect Washington to take 1 game in Washington due to COVID-19 restrictions slowly dissipating and the raw competitiveness of both Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal.
No. 2 Brooklyn Nets vs. No. 7 Celtics
James- Brooklyn in 5
To be real if Boston is going to steal a game it will be Game 1 when Brooklyn is caught off guard due to the Big 3 playing a total of 9 games the whole season. Even then I don’t think Boston has enough manpower to compete. Tatum needs to go for 35 every given night and that is a lot to ask. Brooklyn in 5 and that’s being generous
Hawks Pick- Brooklyn Nets in 5
The Brooklyn Nets are fully healthy for the first time since mid-March, just in time to kill my hopes and dreams of a Celtics playoff run. The Nets have wholloped the Celtics this year winning the season series 3-0 with a 15 point differential…that was with Jaylen Brown. I expect this to be light work for Brooklyn, but Boston will take one game in an almost full capacity TD Garden.
No. 3 Milwaukee Bucks vs. No. 6 Miami Heat
James- Miluawkee in 6
Adding Jrue Holiday to the mix this year has changed everything for the Bucks this year as well as adding another defender to the rotation. With one of the best defenses in the league, I believe Miluawkee has had Miami’s number all year.
On the contrary, Miami is feeling confident with this series, but they often beat themselves down the stretch. Last year the unimaginable happened, but this year you have the fans, the home court atmosphere, etc. Bucks in 6
Hawks Pick- Bucks in 7
This series is without a doubt going to be must see TV. Both Giannis and Jimmy Butler are in the best shape of their lives, and the competitiveness and rivalries that has formulated after last year’s bubble series will make for some amazing basketball. With that being said, this is not the same Bucks team as last year. The addition of Jrue Holiday changes the entire complexion of this series; last year Miami could hide Nunn and/or Goran on Eric Bledsoe, but Jrue Holiday is such an offensive talent that they can no longer do that. This will be a slug fest, but the additions of Jrue Holiday, PJ Tucker, and Bryn Forbes will prove to be the heat’s demise. One team feels they have one number, and the other is coming for blood. This should be fun.
No. 4 New York Knicks vs. No. 5 Atlanta Hawks
James- Atlanta in 7
A Highly anticipated series with two up and coming teams who play with passion and grit. Ultimately the difference maker in this series is going to come down to a coaching battle between McMillan and Thibs. How well can these two teams play in the clutch ?
With New York struggling in key moments, and Atlanta’s injury prone roster we can sit here and name a million more problems. As a result, Atlanta is fully healthy this time around and the ability to dig deep into their bench rotation will have the upper hand on New York. A great series but Atlanta in 7. I know one of my boldest Round 1 Predictions.
Hawk’s Pick- NY in 7
For the sake of NBA twitter, I really pray that this series goes the distance. The Hawks and Knicks fans have been absolutely at one’s throat over the last two weeks, and having fans in the arena will breed so much extra energy for two very energetic teams. Nevertheless, I feel New York pulls this series out in 7 games. With 15k fans in the arena, I do not see the knicks losing at home. Combo that with an experienced playoff coach in Tom Thibodeau and veterans like Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson, the Knicks will pull this series out. Atlanta will definitely put up a fight and this series, this experience will set up deep playoff runs for them in the future.
No. 1 Utah Jazz vs. No. 8 Memphis Grizzlies
James- Utah in 6
With Donovan Mitchell making a return for Game 1 it’s hard for me to take Memphis when Utah has been rolling all season long. Matchup wise it’s favoring Utah, but these two teams matchup very well offensively and defensively.
With the recent victories for the Grizzlies this team is displaying so much unity that I believe it will carry over and they grab at least two games. Utah is going to get the job done and win this series in 6.
Hawk’s Pick- Jazz in 5
As much as I love the depth and energy of this Memphis Grizzlies team, I do not see them putting up much of a fight versus the deepest team in the NBA. Utah’s length and interio presence will be too much for the Grizzlies to handle, as they are a team who’s 3 point shooting is predicated on drive and kicks. With Donovan Mitchell returning for game 1, the depth and experience they have will debilitate any form of offense Memphis tries to run.
No. 2 Phoenix Suns vs. No. 7 Lakers
James- LA In 6
You hate to be a 2 seed, work your tail off all season long just to play the Lakers in the first round. The common theme with the Suns is they are young, and inexperienced all around the board with the exception of Chris Paul.
The Lakers are far more experienced, and battle tested. Although LA is banged up with injuries I believe they upset the Phoenix Suns and advance In 6. You just don’t bet against LeBron!
Hawk’s Pick- Lakers in 7
I find it incredibly hard to bet against Lebron James in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Though this Phoenix team is young, energetic and gritty, there is not a player on the roster that can contain Anthony Davis or Andre Drummond. If the Lakers were to run the twin towers lineup, the Suns would either have Frank Kaminsky or Cam Johnson on one of the big men (considering coach Williams adjusts to the height of the Lakers line-up). Even still, we are banking on Jae Crowder and Mikal Bridges to slow down playoff Lebron. Unless the meltdown of the century happens, LA will win this series in a semi-tightly contested 7 game series.
No. 3 Denver Nuggets vs. No. 6 Portland Trail Blazers
James- Denver In 6
My heart is saying Portland, but my mind is saying Denver. Why? Because Denver was supposed to crack when Jamal Murray went down, but they improved tremendously. With an MVP candidate leading the way in Jokic with a supporting cast of MPJ, Aaron Gordon, Will Barton, etc. this team is just like Philly. One of the most disciplined, and well coached teams in the league. The IQ on this squad is unreal.
One of the few Round 1 Predictions I want to be wrong about.
No. 4 LA Clippers vs. No. 5 Dallas Mavericks
James- LA Clippers in 6
The Clippers need to win this series more than the Dallas Mavericks. They purposefully ducked LA in the first round and got a team they bounced in the first round last year. Off of talent alone it will be enough to be Dallas in this series because Cuban made no changes to the roster this year. It’s the exact same team as last year. Like Boston, Dallas doesn’t have the manpower to compete with the Clippers.
We need Paul George, and Kawhi Leonard to come alive this time around and make this one of the Round 1 Predictions that i’m correct on.
Hawk’s Pick- Portland in 7
Once again, we get an absolute gem for the first round of the playoffs. Denver and Portland are both teams with extremely familiarity, matching up in the playoffs 2 times in the last 5 years. In the last 3 seasons, the Portland vs Nuggets series average point differential is exactly 5.5 points, meaning these team are neck and neck everytime they play. Unfortunately for Denver, the loss of Jamal Murray will be their downfall this season. Portland went and matched Denvers depth and built a team that can compete with any roster in the NBA. This year is just about do or die for this Blazers team, so expect them to get the edge. One thing to note on this series, this will be MPJ’s coming out party.
Do you agree with our Round 1 Predictions? Let us know @Nolimitjumper