Finally, we can breathe a sigh of relief. The NBA's hectic regular-season slate has concluded, and it's time for playoff basketball.
With the seeds finalized and two months of peak NBA action set to start Saturday, it's time to dive into the matchups and make some gutsy prognostications.
So how did we go about making these bold predictions? Firstly, several of the statements pertained to underdogs and dark horses. In addition, it was important to challenge some conventional wisdom in order to help provide contrasting angles and opinions on some of the postseason's biggest storylines and showdowns.
Also, the order of the predictions reflects the progression of the postseason, so first-round upsets and the like are listed first as a result.
But before we get started, here's a complete rundown of the first-round matchups in both conferences. Start dates for each series are noted in parentheses.
1. Indiana Pacers vs. 8. Atlanta Hawks (Saturday, April 19)
2. Miami Heat vs. 7. Charlotte Bobcats (Sunday, April 20)
3. Toronto Raptors vs. 6. Brooklyn Nets (Saturday, April 19)
4. Chicago Bulls vs. 5. Washington Wizards (Sunday, April 20)
1. San Antonio Spurs vs. 8. Dallas Mavericks (Sunday, April 20)
2. Oklahoma City Thunder vs. 7. Memphis Grizzlies (Saturday, April 19)
3. Los Angeles Clippers vs. 6. Golden State Warriors (Saturday, April 19)
4. Houston Rockets vs. 5. Portland Trail Blazers (Sunday, April 20)
All statistics courtesy of Basketball-Reference and current as of Thursday, April 17, unless noted otherwise.