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NBA Playoffs 2014: Projecting 1st-Round Upsets Following Surprise Game 1 Results

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NBA Playoffs 2014: Projecting 1st-Round Upsets Following Surprise Game 1 Results
STEVE DYKES

There were a number of directions we expected the NBA playoffs to take when the games tipped off on Saturday, but no one could have predicted everything that we saw in the first two days. 

Teams we expected to coast through the first round find themselves asking questions about where things fell apart, blew big leads late and are in must-win situations moving ahead to Game 2. 

With the benefit of hindsight, we are going to update some first-round playoff matchups and predictions. Specifically, we want to look at the teams whose performances in Game 1 weren't aberrations, but signs of things to come. 

Here are the series that are going to go in favor of the lower-seeded teams as we move into the first full week of the postseason. 

 

No. 8 Atlanta Hawks def. No. 1 Indiana Pacers

Darron Cummings

There was rejoicing in Indianapolis at the end of the regular season when the Pacers were able to hold off Miami for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, though we are quickly seeing that the second-half collapse wasn't a mirage. 

Even though he's known for overreacting to one-game samples, Charles Barkley was absolutely right when he called out the Pacers following an embarrassing 101-93 loss to Atlanta that wasn't as close as the final score indicates. 

The Hawks have proven they can beat the Pacers, destroying them by 19 points on April 6, and Jeff Teague played like a superstar in the first game of this series with 28 points, five assists and three rebounds. 

Indiana center Roy Hibbert has been lifeless for weeks, even getting a shot blocked by Kyle Korver in Game 1. Korver is seven inches shorter than Hibbert

Until the Pacers find a pulse, either on offense or defense, things are going to get worse before they get better. All that work to fight off Miami for the top seed will be irrelevant because the Hawks have Indiana's number. 

Prediction: Hawks win in six games

 

No. 5 Washington Wizards def. No. 4 Chicago Bulls

Gary Dineen/Getty Images

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It's hard not to root for the Chicago Bulls. They have essentially been without their best player for two years and aren't loaded with high-end talent to withstand the loss of Derrick Rose, yet thanks to the stellar coaching of Tom Thibodeau and hard-nosed players like Joakim Noah, this team plays with everything it has. 

Unfortunately, especially in the playoffs, you need talent as much as execution. Washington isn't a perfect team, but it boasts more depth top to bottom than the Bulls. John Wall is a stud. Bradley Beal can shoot from three-point range. Nene Hilario is too strong for Carlos Boozer. 

The Washington Post had a great stat on the Wizards prior to the start of the series, one that could be more problematic as this series moves on.

With the exception of Beal's poor shooting day, you saw how overmatched the Bulls were in Game 1. When they can't stop a team from scoring, they're not going to win because they don't have the offensive prowess to keep up with an opponent that averages 95-100 points. 

The most surprising part of Washington's Game 1 win is the way it picked apart the Bulls' defense late in the game. The Wizards scored 30 points in the fourth quarter to erase a 13-point deficit. 

If the Bulls aren't going to hold a double-digit lead at home against an unproven Wizards team, this is going to be a short series. 

Prediction: Wizards win in seven games

 

No. 6 Golden State Warriors def. No. 3 Los Angeles Clippers

Mark J. Terrill

Too often we get caught up in the seeds instead of looking at the matchups teams present each other. There's no denying that the Los Angeles Clippers are one of the most talented teams in the NBA, but they got a bad draw when the Golden State Warriors secured the No. 6 seed. 

As great as Chris Paul is, Blake Griffin is the straw that stirs the Clippers' drink. You could see that after he fouled out in Game 1 after playing just 19 minutes.

Griffin's plus-minus for the game was plus-nine, tied with Paul. Glen Davis played more minutes than Griffin in Game 1, adding just six points with a minus-four rating. 

Even though the Warriors went through a lull during the season, including the controversy surrounding head coach Mark Jackson reassigning assistant Brian Scalabrine, this team can shoot with anyone in basketball. 

Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and David Lee went off for 56 points, 23 rebounds and 15 assists. Unless the Clippers can find an answer for those three, a team who we thought could threaten San Antonio and Oklahoma City in the Western Conference isn't getting out of the first round. 

Based on what we know about this Golden State team, don't bet on a Los Angeles turnaround soon. 

Prediction: Warriors win in six games

 

If you want to talk sports, hit me up on Twitter. 


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