NBA Playoff Predictions 2013: Teams Headed for First-Round Disaster

Michael DulkaContributor IApril 18, 2013

DENVER, CO - APRIL 04:  Andre Iguodala #9 of the Denver Nuggets heads down court on a solo break away against the Dallas Mavericks at the Pepsi Center on April 4, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Mavericks 95-94. 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 Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The NBA playoff bracket is set following the end of the regular season. The field features a great mix of teams with varying expectations heading into the second season.

The Western Conference is wide open while the Eastern Conference is the opposite. Just about any team in the West can likely make a run and threaten for a Finals appearance. In the East, it doesn't look like anybody is going to challenge the Miami Heat.

Here are some teams that are looking at disappointing first-round exits.

Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets finished with the best regular season in franchise history, but the ACL injury to Danilo Gallinari could be a death sentence. The Nuggets face a tough Golden State Warriors team led by sharpshooter Steph Curry. If the Nuggets aren't careful, they could definitely looking at a first-round exit following the remarkable stretch.

The Nuggets biggest strength heading into the postseason as been their play at home. The team finished the regular season with a home record of 38-3. With home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, it would seem they have a good chance to advance.

The fatal flaw for the Nuggets will be their lack a star. While the Nuggets have a well-balanced team, they don't have a game that can take over a game and get a much-needed basket at any given moment. Curry is that guy for the Warriors. His smooth three-point stroke could lead the Warriors to a big shooting night on any given night.

Prediction: Warriors 4-3

New York Knicks

Another first-round exit could be in store for Carmelo Anthony as the Knicks rely too heavily on their star small forward. Anthony's incredible play down the stretch helped the Knicks get in good position in the Eastern Conference, but the Boston Celtics are a more than capable playoff opponent.

During his last eight appearances, Anthony averaged 36.9 points per game. For the Knicks to advance, they need Anthony to keep up his remarkable run of play. Against the Celtics this season, Anthony has been decent, averaging 25.3 points per contest.

The Celtics have the type of experience and playmakers that are needed to have success in the postseason. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are still playing at a high level while Jeff Green has emerged as a new threat. Unless Anthony shoots lights out, the Knicks are looking at first-round disaster.

Prediction: Celtics 4-2

San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs are vulnerable heading into the postseason because of their injury issues and their first-round matchup. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have each been banged up throughout the season. If the Spurs are going to make another postseason run, they need their guys to be healthy and contribute on a nightly basis.

Against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Spurs will definitely struggle to defend the L.A. big men. Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol played extremely to get the Lakers into the postseason and will need to replicate their success in the post to have a chance.

If those two players can get Steve Nash back from injury, they should have an even bigger chance to pull the upset. With Kobe Bryant out of the lineup, Nash should see much more of the ball with complete control over the offense.

Prediction: Lakers 4-3