We can expect a good number of competitive first-round series in the NBA playoffs, but I have my eye on three matchups that I predict will end in four-game sweeps.
Even series sweeps have one or two close games, but in the end, the inferior team can never get over the hump to win a game.
Here is a look at the first-round matchups. The team with home-court advantage is listed second:
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Miami Heat
Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks
Atlanta Hawks vs. Indiana Pacers
Chicago Bulls vs. Brooklyn Nets
Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Los Angeles Lakers vs. San Antonio Spurs
Golden State Warriors vs. Denver Nuggets
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Los Angeles Clippers
The entire playoff bracket can be viewed at NBA.com.
Take a wild guess at the first matchup I have penciled in as a sweep.
Miami Heat Won't Hit a Speed Bump With the Milwaukee Bucks
Bucks guard Brandon Jennings courageously—or foolishly—predicted his team would upset the Heat in six games.
Milwaukee Bucks @Bucks
We’re Gonna Win In Six. - Brandon Jennings on #BucksPlayoffs2013-4-19 00:36:39
In all seriousness, I don't blame him for making that prediction.
As an athlete, you have to have audacious confidence. But there is no way the Bucks win this series, and I don't see them winning a game.
You see, there's this guy named LeBron James, and he's pretty good.
Obviously, the Heat are more than just LeBron, but when you have a superstar of James' caliber going against an inferior team like the Bucks, it is often the deciding factor in a potentially close Game 3 or 4 in Milwaukee.
The Bucks did tally a 21-point win over the Heat in Milwaukee during the regular season. But the last two words of that sentence are key: "regular season."
Everything changes in the playoffs.
LeBron won't let them fall, not in Milwaukee. Prepare for the sweep.
Oklahoma City Thunder Will Sweep Away James Harden and the Houston Rockets
It won't be personal as Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant still have love for ex-teammate James Harden, but the Rockets are likely going down in four.
The Rockets are like a heavyweight boxer with awful defense, but a massive punch. In this analogy, the awful defense is...the Rockets' awful defense. Only the Charlotte Bobcats gave up more points than them this season.
But the massive punch is the team's potentially deadly three-point shooting. Their 867 three-pointers were second in the NBA.
If they get hot as team, they can beat anyone on a given night. That won't sustain them for an entire series, but if the shots are falling they are dangerous.
The problem here is the Thunder are nearly as explosive. The Rockets score 106 points per game, the Thunder poured in 105.7.
OKC also plays a little defense as well. They allowed just 96.5 points per game during the season. Get ready for an entertaining series, but a sweep all the same.
Indiana Pacers Will Squash the Atlanta Hawks
This prediction is going out on a limb, but I believe the Pacers transform into a beastly, edgy team in the playoffs under Frank Vogel.
It has happened over the last two postseasons, and I don't think the Hawks have the mental toughness to handle it.
I love Al Horford and I believe he is one of the most underrated players in the league, but who else will step up for them? Josh Smith is still a great talent, but his shot selection still leaves you scratching your head at times.
Down the stretch of the regular season, the Hawks continuously lost meaningful games. So much so, they fell out of the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference.
That failure to close the deal is just a precursor to the postseason.
They don't have a player they can depend on to take and make tough shots from the perimeter. The Pacers have Paul George, who I fully expect to continue his ascension to stardom in this series.
This is an element you need to win close games in the playoffs. It is a risky pick, but I'm taking the Pacers in a sweep with three very close games and one easy win.
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