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Every NBA Title Contender's Nightmare First-Round Matchup

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Every NBA Title Contender's Nightmare First-Round Matchup
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

When the Golden State Warriors stomped out the Houston Rockets by a final score of 108-78 on March 17, the Dubs didn't just send a message in one of the league's most intriguing new rivalries, they also positioned themselves as a potential nightmare first-round matchup for the title-seeking L.A. Clippers.

The Clips aren't the surest bet to win a ring, but they're in the conversation. And the Warriors are a team they don't want to see in the postseason.

But like L.A., the rest of the NBA's super teams have their own versions of kryptonite. LeBron James and the Miami Heat would probably rather face the pushover Atlanta Hawks than the salty Boston Celtics in the first round, and you can bet that the San Antonio Spurs would love to avoid the L.A. Lakers.

Look, most title contenders are labeled as such for a reason: They're the league's best teams. But every club in the hunt has a worst-case first-round scenario.

As we go through the least favorable opponents for each contender, keep in mind that things can change down the stretch, but right now, all of these potential pairings are at least reasonably plausible based on the current standings.

The NBA's top contenders are all dreaming of a Larry O'Brien trophy in June, except when they're waking up in a cold sweat thinking about the following nightmare matchups.

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