The road to an NBA title begins on Saturday afternoon when the 2013 NBA playoffs get underway, starting with the Boston Celtics traveling to New York to take on the Knicks.
The Miami Heat are undoubtedly the favorites to win a second consecutive championship, but there are eight teams playing on Saturday that have high hopes of knocking the Heat off and raising a banner of their own.
Here are my predictions for Saturday's slate of NBA playoff games.
Boston Celtics at New York Knicks (3 p.m. ET)
This two-seven matchup isn't an easy one by any means for the New York Knicks, but I like them to take Game 1 on their home court against the Boston Celtics.
Scoring champion Carmelo Anthony has been scorching in the month of April, and he has a strong supporting cast of J.R. Smith and Raymond Felton to help him along.
The key for the Knicks will be three-point shooting, as New York is tied for the NBA lead in terms of threes attempted per game. If New York is hitting from downtown, the Celtics won't come out of this game with a win, as I don't think Boston has enough offense to keep pace with N.Y.
The Knicks are 3-1 against the Celtics this season, and I think they get the win in Game 1 on Saturday.
Golden State Warriors at Denver Nuggets (5:30 p.m. ET)
With the Denver Nuggets boasting the NBA's best home record (38-3), I'm rolling with the Nuggets over the Golden State Warriors in Game 1.
Denver went 3-1 against Golden State during the regular season and has seen Ty Lawson lead the team all season, averaging 16.7 points and 6.9 assists per game.
If you like fast-paced basketball, you'll want to tune into this Western Conference series, as these two teams are some of the best in the NBA in terms of scoring the basketball. The Nuggets will have the edge because of their complete lineup and No. 1 scoring offense.
Containing Stephen Curry and David Lee won't be an easy task for Denver, but I like the Nuggets' chances of taking Game 1 from the Warriors.
Chicago Bulls at Brooklyn Nets (8 p.m. ET)
If Noah doesn't play, Chicago's interior defense will be seriously weakened, opening up the opportunity for a big game by Brook Lopez and Brooklyn's offense. I think the crucial matchup that the Nets need to take advantage of is the point guard matchup between Deron Williams and Kirk Hinrich, with D-Will possessing the offensive advantage.
Reggie Evans is an absolute beast on the offensive glass, and if the Nets can key in on Luol Deng and contain Carlos Boozer, this game is Brooklyn's for the taking.
Even after going 1-3 against the Bulls during the regular season, I think the Nets get the win in Game 1.
Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Clippers (10:30 p.m. ET)
It'll be a rematch of last year's Western Conference playoff matchup when the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers get together for what promises to be another intriguing playoff matchup.
Sorry, Grizzlies fans, but I see this series playing out just as it did last year, when the Clippers ousted Memphis and advanced to the next round. The Clips went 3-1 against the Grizzlies this season and beat Memphis by an average of 13 points per game, highlighted by a 26-point drubbing on Jan. 14.
Memphis has seen a resurgent Zach Randolph take the reins, but it won't be enough in Game 1 against Blake Griffin and Chris Paul.
Ultimately, I think Jamal Crawford serves as the X-factor off the bench and buries the Grizzlies on Saturday.
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