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Eastern Conference - First Round
No. 1 Miami vs. No. 8 Milwaukee - Milwaukee dominated one of the games in the series, although that was just before the turn of the calendar year when the Heat were in a small funk. Miami is far better and will coast into the next round. Miami in four.
No. 2 New York vs. No. 7 Boston - Recent history might be on Boston's side but that has nothing to do with how these two teams are playing. Carmelo Anthony is on fire and New York has won 16 of its last 18, including two dominant victories over the Celtics. Boston only has one win against a playoff team in its last 20 games. It's simply this for the Celtics: no Rajon Rondo, no chance. New York in five.
No. 3 Indiana vs. No. 6 Atlanta - These are two teams that haven't played their best basketball in April, but the Pacers rebounding and defense will prevail. With the exception of Danny Granger because of his knee injury (via Jason Patt of SB Nation), the core of this Pacers team is coming back for unfinished business after giving the Heat a run in the 2012 playoffs. Paul George has a big series. Indiana in five.
No. 4 Brooklyn vs. No. 5 Chicago - Chicago won the regular-season series 3-1 but Brooklyn will get it done. The Bulls consistency has been suspect, to say the least. They looked great when they ended Miami's and New York's winning streaks. Then they looked awful by losing to Detroit and Toronto. Plus, Joakim Noah's health is in question after missing several games down the stretch with his plantar fasciitis injury (per Kevin Zimmerman of SB Nation). Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson are too much for the Bulls to handle right now in a seven-game series. Brooklyn in six.
Western Conference - First Round
No. 1 Oklahoma City vs. No. 8 Houston - It's James Harden going against his former team. The Rockets can score, but they can also give up a lot of points. Houston gets one at home, but OKC is in control of this series. Oklahoma City in five.
No. 2 San Antonio vs. No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers - The most intriguing first-round series. Both teams are facing injuries, but the Lakers can't do it without Kobe Bryant. The Spurs will protect the paint and Gregg Popovich will put Dwight Howard on the line countlessly. San Antonio in five.
No. 3 Denver vs. No. 6 Golden State - Despite the injuries toward the end of the season, Denver is playing as well as anyone in the West. Golden State gets a win at home, but that's it. Denver in five.
No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers vs. No. 5 Memphis - A rematch of the first-round series in 2012. While Lob City gets most of the attention, the Clippers are playing terrific their defense in the month of April. The Clippers won the regular-season series 3-1 and Chris Paul is the difference maker. Los Angeles in seven.
Eastern Conference - Semifinals
No. 1 Miami vs. No. 4 Brooklyn - Brooklyn's best chance is to attack inside with Brook Lopez and company, but it still won't be enough. The Heat swept the Nets in the regular season 3-0 by an average of 21 points. All of those games happened before Miami's 27-game winning streak. Yikes. Miami in five.
No. 2 New York vs. No. 3 Indiana - This might not be Reggie Miller against John Starks, but it's been nine years for the Pacers and 13 for the Knicks since they reached the Eastern Conference Finals. While New York is the hotter team, will Carmelo Anthony be able to keep up his remarkable scoring numbers? It's Indiana's balance against a high volume of jump shots from New York. The Pacers move on. Indiana in six.
Western Conference - Semifinals
No. 1 Oklahoma City vs. No 4 Los Angeles Clippers - While Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul battle it out at the point, Kevin Durant will have one of his best playoff series' in his career. The Thunder swept the Clippers 3-0 in the regular season, with Durant scoring a total of 102 points. Oklahoma City in six.
No. 2 San Antonio vs. No. 3 Denver - The Spurs are just too banged up to keep up with the Nuggets. Popovich has tried to save the team's energy for the playoffs but it doesn't matter. Tony Parker, who is normally as consistent as point guards come, has struggled recently. Denver protects its home floor and wins one of the first two in San Antonio. Denver in six.
Eastern Conference Finals
No. 1 Miami vs. No. 3 Indiana - Indiana has been a tough team for Miami to overcome, largely due to its rebounding and defense, but the Heat will make this look easier than it is. This is a better Miami team than last year and won't overlook the Pacers after the brutal series they had in the 2012 playoffs. Miami in five.
Western Conference Finals
No. 1 Oklahoma City vs. No. 3 Denver - As stated before, this will be the best series of the entire playoffs. The games will be high scoring. The crowds will be electric. It's going to come down to the final minute of the final game, but Kevin Durant gets the Thunder back to the NBA Finals. Oklahoma City in seven.
No. 1 Miami vs. No. 1 Oklahoma City - It's rare that the same two teams return to the NBA Finals in back-to-back seasons, or in any professional league for that matter, but it's going to happen. Miami is on a different level than anyone else in the East and Oklahoma City has the deadly combination of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. This time around the Heat have home-court advantage. Miami goes back to South Beach with a 3-2 lead before winning the title in six games. Miami in six.