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NBA Playoff Predictions 2013: Teams That Will Suffer First-Round Sweeps

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 3:  Head coach Doc Rivers of the Boston Celtics protests a foul call against Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics during the game against the Detroit Pistons on April 3, 2013 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. 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 Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
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Mike HoagCorrespondent IIApril 25, 2013

The Eastern Conference playoffs are a stacked deck in 2013.

Unfortunately for every other seed, the Miami Heat hold the keys to the NBA Finals. The New York Knicks appear to be the only team capable of usurping the defending champs. Beyond them, there isn’t a credible threat.

Not only are there not many competent challengers to the Heat’s dominance, there are also a group of teams who are simply not playoff-caliber squads.

That should result in multiple first-round sweeps in the East.

While the Los Angeles Lakers could get swept in the West, it is more likely that three Eastern Conference teams fall in that embarrassing fashion.

We’ll take a look below at why each of these Eastern Conference teams will fail to record a win during their soon-to-be short-lived playoff appearances.

 

Atlanta Hawks

Coming in we knew this series was going to be a grinder. Atlanta came in allowing just 97.5 points per game and Indiana boasted the No. 2-scoring defense in the NBA (90.7 PPG).

Ultimately, only Indiana has lived up to its calling on the defensive side of the ball to this point. The Pacers thrashed the Hawks in Game 1 by putting up 107 points to the Hawks’ 90.

Indiana doesn’t have an explosive offense, but it is slowly becoming more like the Hawks of old. The Pacers have a dominant frontcourt and stout defense that allows them to slow down the pace of games and outscore their opponents.

This new Hawks team, who lost top scorer Joe Johnson after last season, struggles to find consistent production from any one player.

Being swept here might come as a surprise to some, but it isn’t that crazy due to the matchup.

 

Milwaukee Bucks

The Heat are simply on another level than the Milwaukee Bucks. And it isn’t even close.

Despite playing them closely through three quarters, the Bucks collapsed in the fourth quarter of their Game 2 loss in South Beach. No matter how good they play, the Heat are simply better.

It really is as simple as that.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Co. are leaps and bounds more talented than their opponents.

The Bucks have a nice young nucleus of talent with Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings, but they have little support around them. Their bench isn’t nearly deep enough to contend with the star-studded roster of the defending champs.

Pulling out a win, even at home, doesn’t seem like a possibility for them at this point.

 

Boston Celtics

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the “Big Three” was really the “Big Four” in Beantown. The absence of Rajon Rondo has left the C’s without their key playmaker and in danger of being swept by the second-seeded Knicks.

Prior to the NBA trade deadline both Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were rumored to be on the block. Opting to keep hope alive in Boston, GM Danny Ainge decided to stand firm and not reload for the future.

Initially it looked like a deep playoff run would be a possibility after the team rattled off seven straight wins following Rondo's injury. 

That optimism from January has faded fast after the Celtics struggled down the stretch and now have dropped their first two playoff games to the Knicks.

New York is explosive, deep and too talented defensively to allow the Celtics any opportunity to sneak back into this series. Without Rondo, the C’s offense has stagnated in the second half (scoring just 49 second-half points total).

A return to the Boston Garden may be inspiring to some, but the end result looks bleak for the proud Celtics franchise.

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