Fourth Quarter Sports’ NBA playoff predictions: First round

After seven long months of the NBA season, teams have played through all 82 games and fought through injuries, trades, and team chemistry to make themselves the best eight teams in their respective conference.

The Eastern conference looked to crown a new king as LeBron James took his talent to West LA. How did James move affect the West? It didn’t! His new team, Los Angeles Lakers, finished the season right where they were last season, 10th place in the standings.

“Strength in Numbers” by Thomas Hawk is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

For the West, the playoff teams were the same as last year except for two teams, New Orleans Pelicans and Minnesota Timberwolves. Instead, we saw the other Los Angeles team (Clippers) make it back after an absence last year. The Denver Nuggets also made the playoffs this year as they were a win shy from it last year. The Nuggets made sure they weren’t missing playoffs this year as they cruised to a top seed in the West. But the Warriors still have the strength in numbers. Sorry Lakers Fans, maybe next year?

With James in the Western Conference, the East is now an extensive open playground for all 15 teams to try their luck in the NBA Finals after James had made eight straight appearances to the Finals with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat. Unfortunately, both of those teams failed to make the playoffs this year. But we do have some young, fresh teams that did and Fourth Quarter Sports will give you our predictions of the first round and every round until the finals.

                                   Playoff matchups:

 Western Conference:                                Eastern Conference 

  1. Warriors vs. 8. Clippers                    1. Bucks vs. 8. Pistons
  2. Nuggets vs. 7. Spurs                        2. Raptors vs. 7. Magic
  3. Trail Blazers vs. 6. Thunder               3. 76ers vs. Nets
  4. Rockets vs. 5. Jazz                            4. Celtics vs. 5. Pacers

That’s what the playoffs look like, but let’s see what our predictions are!

                                   Rahim’s picks:

                 West:                                                     East:

1. Warriors over 8. Clippers in six                 1. Bucks over 8. Pistons in four

4. Rockets over 5. Jazz in seven                   4. Celtics over 5. Pacers in seven

2. Nuggets over 7. Spurs in seven               2. Raptors over 7. Magic in five

6. Thunder over 3. Blazers in 5                    3. Sixers over 6. Nets in six

                                               Aman’s picks:

               West:                                                  East: 
1. Warriors over 8. Clippers in six               1. Bucks over 8. Pistons in seven

4. Rockets over 5. Jazz in five                     5. Pacers over 4. Celtics in six

7. Spurs over 2. Denver in seven                2. Raptors over 7. Magic in six

3. Blazers over 6. Thunder in five               3. Sixers over 6. Nets in six

                                             Joel’s picks:

                      West:                                           East: 

1. Warriors over 8. Clippers in five               1. Bucks over 8. Pistons in four

4. Rockets over 5. Jazz in six                        4. Celtics over 5. Pacers in five

2. Nuggets over 7. Spurs in four                 2. Raptors over 7. Magic in six

6. Thunder over 3. Blazers in seven            3. Sixers over 6. Nets in six

                                                     Dan’s picks:

                  West:                                                        East:

1. Warriors over 8. Clippers in four                  1. Bucks over 8. Pistons in four

4. Rockets over 5. Jazz in five                           4. Celtics over 5. Pacers in five

2. Nuggets over 7. Spurs in four                      2. Raptors over 7. Magic in five

6. Thunder over 3. Blazers in seven                 3. Sixers over 6. Nets in seven

With the way the standings finished in both the East and West, the first round games aren’t as impressive as we would like. Had the Blazers lost in the finale, we would’ve seen the Rockets and Thunder as an exciting first round matchup. If Wade and the Heat would’ve given the Nets a loss, they could’ve dropped to 7th or 8th in the playoff picture. Unfortunately, those two things didn’t happen, and we are in for an interesting first round.

When I say interesting, I mean it! Don’t believe me, compare how Aman predicted his playoffs going compared to the rest of us. I mean, do you think that the Spurs will beat the Nuggets in a seven-game series? I mean I know the Spurs are well coached with Greg Popovich, and they have the right players around him to succeed and have made the playoffs for 21 straight seasons now. So maybe Aman is on to something here!

Aman is also the only one to pick the Pacers beating Celtics in the first round, but that could be something we may see especially with Celtics guard Marcus Smart set to miss the first round. But how well can the Pacers continue to play without Victor Oladipo?  How about the Bucks? Will they be able to keep to be the best team in the league? Let’s wait and watch to see where we find them after round one. Can the defending champions have an accessible path?

Don’t forget to tune into the NBA playoffs that start on Saturday and see how close we get with our predictions. We will also see you in a few weeks to predict the second round games.

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