NBA Playoff Preview 2011: Predicting 1st-Round Matchups as They Are Right Now

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NBA Playoff Preview 2011: Predicting 1st-Round Matchups as They Are Right Now
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Every player's goal is the same to start the season. No matter where a NBA athlete starts the season, his main focus is ending the season with the Larry O'Brien trophy in hand.

Of the 30 teams that start the season with title hopes, 16 qualify for postseason play. When the playoffs begin, more than half of the league still has a chance to win the NBA Championship. The NBA, unlike NCAA basketball, starts off with the Sweet 16.

When the playoffs begin, records are thrown to the wayside. It doesn't matter how many wins a team amassed during the regular season. Sixteen teams all start anew with a common goal and equal chances.

Once again, teams in the bottom half of the Eastern Conference playoff teams have losing records. There are teams in the West that have been mathematically eliminated with better records than the current No. 8 seed in the East.

On April 16, teams will begin matching up in best-of-seven series' to decide which squad is the best of 2010-11. 

Here's my thoughts on which teams will escape the first round if the seeds were locked in as of 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 2.

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