2012 NBA Playoffs Preview

Derek CrouseContributor IIIApril 25, 2012

There is only one goal in the playoffs.
There is only one goal in the playoffs.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

After a short but grueling 2011-12 NBA regular season, the 2012 NBA playoffs are around the corner. From trade rumors, a rash of player injuries and teams playing night after night, the seeding is finally set.

The No. 1 Chicago Bulls are matched up against the No. 8 Philadelphia 76ers. The Bulls led the regular season series at 2-1. Chicago has balance with its role players and is hoping Derrick Rose is healthy for a deep playoff run. The Bulls should be able to counter the 76ers with stingy defense and come out on top.

The No. 2 Miami Heat will face the No. 7 New York Knicks. The Heat have shown to be very dominant, but it all depends on the play of Chris Bosh. The Knicks have gone from a pick-and-roll team to everything flowing from Carmelo Anthony getting his shot.

Under a new coach, New York has put an emphasis on defense which has given teams a new wrinkle to deal with. The Heat are so hot and cold this series could go seven games with Miami heading into the second round.

The No. 3 Indiana Pacers are looking to put the No. 6 Orlando Magic out of their misery. The Pacers are young, hungry and could upset any of the teams in the Eastern Conference.

Orlando has had better years. Dealing with the Dwight Howard drama has affected their franchise from the top on down. Now that Howard is going through a back surgery, the Pacers could possibly sweep the Magic.

The veteran No. 4 Boston Celtics are matched up against the immature No. 5 Atlanta Hawks. The Celtics have been waiting for the playoffs. It is when the big three turn it on, and their old legs seem to get a little lift.

This will be one of the last chances for this current group of players. The Hawks are young which leads them to play well at home. They will need that to have any chance of beating the Celtics in this series.

The Western Conference has entertaining games from top to bottom.

The cerebral No. 1 San Antonio Spurs are matched up against the underrated No. 8 Utah Jazz. The Spurs might not be the best watch, but their fundamentals are always sound. They are a veteran team who still has life left. They face the Jazz who have had troubles with San Antonio in the regular season.

Look for a sweep in this one.

The No. 2 Oklahoma City Thunder face the 2011 champs in the No. 7 Dallas Mavericks. The Thunder might be the second seed, but are probably the best team in the conference. The defending champions will have a real challenge getting past the Thunder.

The Thunder are lights out at home so this one could also be over with a sweep. It should be a test drive for OKC.

The No. 3 Los Angeles Lakers are matched up against the No. 6 Denver Nuggets. With the recent maturing of Andrew Bynum, the Lakers don’t always have to count on Kobe Bryant to be the go-to-guy. Kobe has rested his legs as of late so he should be fresh.

The Lakers might not be the best team right now, but they could build momentum and eliminate any team. Denver could win a home game, but the Lakers will move on to the second round.

The No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers bring their fast-paced game against the No. 5 Memphis Grizzlies. This series might not have the Finals champion in it, but it looks to be one of the most entertaining of the group. You can count on high scoring, and any series with Blake Griffin will be a good watch.

Look for this series to go to the final game with the Grizzlies on top.