NBA Playoffs 2012: Updated Predictions for 1st Round Series

Gordie Gold@ggold3Correspondent IMay 3, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 01:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives on Corey Brewer #13 of the Denver Nuggets during Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 1, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images


Heading into the playoffs, many people thought the Chicago Bulls were going to make a deep playoff run led by Derrick Rose.

Well, a lot of crazy things have happened.

Whether it is Rose going down with a season-ending injury in Game 1, the Los Angeles Clippers coming back from 26 down or Amar'e Stoudemire punching a glass case, anything can happen in the NBA playoffs

Here are updated predictions for the NBA playoffs first-round series.

Eastern Conference

Chicago Bulls vs. Philadelphia 76ers

When Derrick Rose went down, so did the Bulls playoff hopes.

They are not the same team without Rose. He is their leader and their go-to scorer. However, the Bulls are still lucky that they have a bunch of other pieces that can lead this team.

Luol Deng, Rip Hamilton and Joakim Noah are going to have to bring their game to a whole new level to help the Bulls move on in the playoffs.

The 76ers still do not have enough star power to beat a Rose-less Bulls team in a seven-game series.

What looked like an easy series for the Bulls should now become a very close one. However, the Bulls were still able to go 18-9 without Rose during the regular season, so this is not something new to them.

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 01: Loul Deng #9 and Joakim Noah #13 of the Chicago Bulls battle for rebound position with Spencer Hawes #00 of the Philadelphia 76ers in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the United Center
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Prediction: Bulls in seven

Miami Heat vs. New York Knicks

The Heat have handled the Knicks easily so far in the series and will continue to do so.

Game 3 may be a problem for the Heat because it is on the road and Chris Bosh may not be playing due to the birth of his child.

However, the Knicks may be without Amar'e Stoudemire for the rest of the series. NBA fans across the nation still don't know if that hurts or helps the Knicks. Amar'e and Carmelo Anthony cannot seem to play together and another early playoff exit could lead to some major changes in New York.

The Heat have way too much talent in LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, while the Knicks have zero chemistry to match them.

Prediction: Heat in five

Indiana Pacers vs. Orlando Magic

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - APRIL 30: Danny Granger #33 of the Indiana Pacers reacts to a 93-78 win over the Orlando Magic in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NBA Playoffs on April 30, 2012 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Similar to the Bulls, the Magic are nothing without Dwight Howard. Not only was he their leading scorer, but he was their only defensive presence.

The Pacers should be able to easily win this series against the Magic with Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert leading them.

Prediction: Pacers in five

Atlanta Hawks vs. Boston Celtics

When Rajon Rondo got suspended for Game 2, it looked like the Celtics were in trouble. With no Rondo or Ray Allen, along with an aging Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, it seemed like they were done for.

However, Pierce showed he will not go down without a fight, scoring 36 points and leading the Celtics to victory. He added a little more emphasis to it, when he "Tebowed" at midcourt.

With the return of Rondo and possibly Allen later on in the series, the Celtics have too much experience for the Hawks. The Hawks have never been able to make it deep into the playoffs. They lack the mental toughness that the Celtics possess.

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 01:  Ivan Johnson #44 of the Atlanta Hawks defends against Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on May 1, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO U
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Prediction: Celtics in six 

Western Conference

San Antonio Spurs vs. Utah Jazz

The Spurs are way too much for the Jazz to handle. Game 2 was a blowout and the rest of the series is going to be like that.

The Jazz cannot match up against the Spurs' high-scoring offense, led by Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan.

Prediction: Spurs in four

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Dallas Mavericks

The closest series of the first round so far, the Thunder have managed to take a 2-0 lead in the series. Their wins have come by a combined four points.

Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden have been able to come up big when the Thunder needs them. These Mavericks, led by Dirk Nowitzki, are not going to go down without a fight. They are the defending champs and have a lot more experience than the Thunder. 

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - APRIL 30:  Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks drives on Serge Ibaka #9 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on April 30, 2012 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in
Brett Deering/Getty Images

In the end though, the Mavs do not have the defensive presence which they had in Tyson Chandler last year, and they won't be able to stop OKC.

Prediction: Thunder in six

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets

Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum are too much for the Nuggets to handle.

When it comes to the playoffs, there is no better player than the Black Mamba. He has dominated in the first two games of the series and he will put up great numbers every game.

The biggest difference though is the rise of Bynum. When he dominates on the defensive end, the Lakers are arguably the best team in the NBA. The Nuggets have no one who can match up with him.

JaVale McGee does not stand a chance against a bruiser like Bynum. He is way too skinny and has the lowest basketball IQ in the NBA.

Prediction: Lakers in four

MEMPHIS, TN - MAY 02:  O.J. Mayo #32 of the Memphis Grizzlies and Chris Paul #3 of the Los Angeles Clippers battle for a loose ball in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at FedExForum on May 2, 2012 in Memphis, Tenne
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Memphis Grizzlies vs. Los Angeles Clippers

Going into the playoffs, this was projected to be one of the closest matchups.

The Clippers, led by Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, are taking on the Grizzlies. The Clippers showed they were mentally tough, coming back from a 26-point deficit to beat the Grizzlies in Game 1. 

In that game though, the Clippers lost a key play player in Caron Butler. Butler broke his hand and is out for the rest of the series. This significantly hurts the Clippers because Butler provided another scoring option and veteran leadership.

With the loss of Butler and no presence of a consistent shooting guard like Chauncey Billups, the Clippers are going to have a difficult time trying to handle players like Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph.

Prediction: Grizzlies in seven


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