NBA Playoffs: Round 1

Western Conference

Out West, three teams will cruise to the next round, and are on the verge of sweeping their opponents. The Spurs have dominated the Jazz, OKC has a commanding 3-0 lead on the reigning champs from Dallas, and the Nuggets just can’t hang with the Lakers.

It’s premature to buy into the blueprint for OKC, but for now they’re rolling. We will see if the chemistry flows into the next round for the Lake Show, and if the veteran Spurs can take care of business as their opponents get more challenging.

A disappointing way to go down for the Mavericks. They celebrated too long and felt the urgency to make the postseason, but not enough to defend their title. Utah has a young team and got some valuable playoff experience, even if they get swept. Denver has some rising stars and a bright future ahead of them. Without signing or trading for anyone, they could simply improve by developing their own talent beginning with Ty Lawson.

My favorite series is the Grizzlies/Clippers. Heading into the playoffs I was looking forward to this matchup, and they’re living up to the hype I feel it deserved. Great games start to finish. CP3 is showing everyone how to orchestrate an offense, and how about that leadership that stormed this team to comeback from 27 points and win at Memphis? Rudy Gay is healthy and blossoming, if he and Zack Randolph can coexist then they might represent this conference when it’s all said and done. Lob City needs their enforcements down low to back up Blake Griffin’s highlight reel. Marc Gasol might be the best passing big man in the league, and I think Memphis has the edge with more two-way players and size. You have to love how the guards for both teams are playing in this series.

Eastern Conference

Let’s start with the obvious. The Miami Heat are on a mission and the Knicks were ahead of themselves. It doesn’t matter who’s in or out of the lineup for New York, they were trying to patch talent together after a season of turmoil. It’s not because of the talent, I don’t want to hear false bravado.

Indiana has bounced back after Orlando stole game one with that late rally. They are the most physical team in the East and are interchangeable defensively, but they will run into the juggernaut in South Beach. They should comfortably closeout this series, and Orlando will have some decisions to make when they go home. The status of Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu’s contract come to mind.

The Celtics and Hawks could go the distance, this series is intriguing and could go either way.What a letdown that was for Atlanta to lose when Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen were sidelined. This is the best series in the East at the moment, a clash between the Hawks’ youth and Boston’s experience.

Chicago steamrolled through the regular season with reigning MVP Derrick Rose missing nearly half of it. It was just one game, but they’re racing Philadelphia to 4 wins. The Bulls need all-star players Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer to step up their scoring, or they could get blamed for their inflated contracts. The 76ers need to keep being aggressive and get into the lane. They fall in love with the mid-range shot because they can hit those, but they should attack early and often.