The Associations regular season is entering its final lap, with each team having less than 20 games remaining on the schedule. Curious what the postseason matchups will look like if the playoffs started today? Wondering who will advance? Say no more then...
(1) Miami Heat vs. (8) Milwaukee Bucks
Prediction: Heat in 6
LeBron & Co. will advance in absolutely any matchup they draw in the first round. But Milwaukee is actually the opponent that might give the Heat the most trouble. Quick talented guards, along with Larry Sanders protecting the rim, does not match up well against the boys from South Beach.
(2) Indiana Pacers vs. (7) Atlanta Hawks
Prediction: Pacers in 5
Indiana's frontcourt will be able to contain Al Horford and the rest of the Hawks big men. A certain Club Bosh contributor has managed to get his with Al Horford's cousin in the VIP of the Club, but I digress. Indiana's one of the few contenders in the East to challenge the Heat, and the lowly Hawks won't give them much trouble in the first round.
(3) New York Knicks vs. (6) Boston Celtics
Prediction: Celtics in 6
The NY Knicks have screamed mediocrity recently (20-20 in last 40 games), while the Celtics have played impressive ball since Rondo's injury (15-6 without him). The aging C's should put away the Knicks with relative ease.
(4) Brooklyn Nets vs. (5) Chicago Bulls
Prediction: Nets in 7
This matchup seems the most difficult to pick, mostly due to the uncertainty of Derrick Rose's availability for the postseason. I don't think he will play, which tips the scale ever so slightly to the Nets squeezing past the Bulls in seven games.
(1). San Antonio Spurs vs. (8) Los Angeles Lakers
Prediction: Spurs in 6
This would be a helluva matchup to witness. Kobe vs. Timmy D. again for a chance to keep a title hope alive. Don't think anybody knows exactly what the Lakers will bring come the postseason, but I know the Spurs & Coach Pop wouldn't exactly be thrilled with drawing Kobe & D-12 in the first round.
(2) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (7) Houston Rockets
Prediction: Thunder in 5
Another great matchup if this were to happen, with OKC meeting with former star James Harden the same year he was dealt to Houston. Harden and the Rockets have no problem filling the bucket, but would struggle mightily trying to contain RussRuss & KD.
(3) Memphis Grizzlies vs. (6) Golden State Warriors
Prediction: Grizzlies in 6
The contrast in styles in this matchup would make for an interesting playoff matchup. The Griz might be the best halfcourt team in the league behind Z-Bo & the other Gasol, while the Warriors run the floor in transition under the direction of Steph Curry with ease. Halfcourt basketball always tends to be more important in the postseason, thus giving Memphis a bid into the second round.
(4) Los Angeles Clippers vs (5). Denver Nuggets
Prediction: Clippers in 7
The Denver Nuggets have been excellent (especially at home) throughout the season, but a draw against Lob City would mean the end for the Nuggies. CP3 would be able to control Ty Lawson's quick transition game, likely creating problems for Denver to score. Would be a great series, but I don't see the team game that Denver plays being able to overcome Chris Paul & Co. in LA.