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2011 NBA Playoff Predictions: Who Will Win Each First-Round Series?

Steven BaldassariContributor IIIApril 14, 2011

2011 NBA Playoff Predictions: Who Will Win Each First-Round Series?

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    Another weekend is around the corner, and so is another NBA Playoff showdown. The fun begins Saturday, April 16.

    What the weekend or the playoffs hold in store for us no one can be sure, but predictions can be made based on past performances.

    The NBA is full of talent these days; I can't recall seeing so many great first-round matchups. Typically, we have grown to become accustomed to the Western Conference offering up great first-round series. With recent trades and so many contract buyouts this year, the Eastern Conference series may be even better than the Western Conference's.

    A few series to keep a close eye on in the first round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs are the Celtics/Knicks, Thunder/Nuggets and the Heat/76ers. Anything could happen.

    Let us now take a look at who will win each first-round series and why.

Eastern Conference: First-Round Matchups

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    Courtesy of NBA.com
    Courtesy of NBA.com

     

    Eastern Conference
    Eastern W L PCT GB CONF DIV HOME ROAD L 10 STREAK
    Chicago 62 20 0.756 0.0 39-13 15-1 36-5 26-15 9-1 W 9
    Miami 58 24 0.707 4.0 38-14 13-3 30-11 28-13 8-2 W 4
    Boston 56 26 0.683 6.0 37-15 13-3 33-8 23-18 5-5 W 1
    Orlando 52 30 0.634 10.0 36-16 11-5 29-12 23-18 6-4 W 2
    Atlanta 44 38 0.537 18.0 31-21 9-7 24-17 20-21 4-6 L 6
    New York 42 40 0.512 20.0 28-24 10-6 23-18 19-22 7-3 L 2
    Philadelphia 41 41 0.500 21.0 25-27 9-7 26-15 15-26 4-6 L 2
    Indiana 37 45 0.451 25.0 28-24 9-7 24-17 13-28 5-5 L 2

Chicago Bulls vs. Indiana Pacers

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    The Chicago Bulls will come out on top in this series and win over the eighth-seeded Pacers, thanks to possible regular-season MVP Derrick Rose.

    All things said, it appears as though Indiana won't be able to keep up with the Bulls and will be eliminated in five games.

    I know some of you are surprised I didn't pick the Bulls in four games. Well, the Pacers are an NBA team after all and did make it to the playoffs behind key star players such as Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert and Darren Collison. They will pull off one game in this lopsided series.

     

    Game 1: Saturday, April 16 at 12:00 p.m. (@ Chicago)

    Game 2: Monday, April 18th at 8:30 PM (@ Chicago)

    Game 3: Thursday, April 21st at "TBD" (@ Indiana)

    Game 4: Saturday, April 23rd at "TBD" (@ Indiana)

    Games 5, 6, and 7 will only be played if needed.

Miami Heat vs. Philadelphia 76ers

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    The Miami Heat take this series over the feisty Philadelphia 76ers, who put up a much greater fight than originally anticipated. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and company will simply be too much offense for Andre Iguadola and Elton Brand to keep up with.

     

    Game 1: Saturday, April 16 at 3:30 p.m. (@ Miami)

    Game 2: Monday, April 18 at 7:00 p.m. (@ Miami)

    Game 3: Thursday, April 21 at TBD (@ Philadelphia)
    Game 4: Thursday, April 24 at 1:00 p.m. (@ Philadelphia)
    Games 5, 6, and 7 will only be played if needed.

Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks

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    This series will be surprisingly close.

    The Celtics are their own worst enemies here. The only reason they should lose to the talented Knicks is if they get injured or play with no intensity as they did the last couple weeks of the regular season.

    Both teams have added new talent. The Knicks added big names like Carmelo Anthony and "Big Shot" Chauncey Billups. The Celtics, on the other hand, have added the likes of Jeff Green, Troy Murphy, Nenad Krstic and others.

    The Knicks usually don't play defense, but it is the playoffs, and all that laziness on the defensive end will no longer exist. Regardless, the Celtics have a better defense and arguably the best in the NBA. Boston's experience and depth will lead them over the gritty Knicks in six games.

    Let's see which team has meshed better since all the NBA trade deadline moves occurred. Be sure to watch for Glen "Big Baby" Davis drooling and Kevin Garnett pounding his chest like a maniac. This is going to be a good one!

     

    Game 1: Sunday, April 17 at 7:00 p.m. (@ Boston)

    Game 2: Tuesday, April 19 at 7:00 p.m. (@ Boston)

    Game 3: Friday, April 22 at TBD (@ New York)
    Game 4: Sunday, April 24 at 3:30 p.m. (@ New York)
    Games 5, 6, and 7 will only be played if needed.

     

    Must Read

    2011 NBA Playoffs: 18 Reasons the Boston Celtics Win the 2011 NBA Championship

Orlando Magic vs. Atlanta Hawks

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    Whenever a four and five seed square off, it promises to be a good matchup.

    The Hawks and Magic both have a lot of veterans on their squads and have been to the playoffs the past couple years.

    This will be another close series won by the Orlando Magic in seven games. Al Horford is quite the talent, but Dwight Howard is just too strong and will prove to be the difference in this close series.

     

    Game 1: Saturday, April 16 at 7:00 p.m. (@ Orlando)

    Game 2: Tuesday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m. (@ Orlando)

    Game 3: Friday, April 22 at TBD (@ Atlanta)
    Game 4: Sunday, April 24 at 7:30 p.m. (@ Atlanta)
    Games 5, 6, and 7 will only be played if needed.

Western Conference: First-Round Matchups

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    Courtesy of NBA.com
    Courtesy of NBA.com

     

    Western Conference
    Western W L PCT GB CONF DIV HOME ROAD L 10 STREAK
    San Antonio 61 21 0.744 0.0 38-14 10-6 36-5 25-16 4-6 L 2
    L.A. Lakers 57 25 0.695 4.0 36-16 12-4 30-11 27-14 5-5 W 2
    Dallas 57 25 0.695 4.0 35-17 8-8 29-12 28-13 6-4 W 4
    Oklahoma City 55 27 0.671 6.0 33-19 13-3 30-11 25-16 7-3 L 1
    Denver 50 32 0.610 11.0 30-22 9-7 33-8 17-24 7-3 L 1
    Portland 48 34 0.585 13.0 30-22 10-6 30-11 18-23 6-4 L 1
    New Orleans 46 36 0.561 15.0 27-25 9-7 28-13 18-23 5-5 L 3
    Memphis 46 36 0.561 15.0 30-22 8-8 30-11 16-25 6-4 L 2

San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies

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    Not having Rudy Gay back for the playoffs due to season-ending shoulder surgery will be a thorn in the Grizzlies' side, and the Western Conference's No. 1 seed will prove victorious in this one.

    The Grizzlies are a bear of a bunch, but San Antonio will sink their spurs into the Grizzlies' hide to win this series in seven games. Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, Tony Parker and the rest of the Spurs will just be too much for Marc Gasol, Tony Allen, Zach Randolph, Mike Conley and the Grizzlies to overcome.

     

    Game 1: Sunday, April 17 at 12:00 p.m. (@ San Antonio)

    Game 2: Wednesday, April 20 at 7:30 p.m. (@ San Antonio)

    Game 3: Saturday, April 23 at 6:30 p.m. (@ Memphis)
    Game 4: Monday, April 25 at TBD (@ Memphis)
    Games 5, 6, and 7 will only be played if needed.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. New Orleans Hornets

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    With David West out for the season due to his recent surgery on his torn ACL, the Lakers will simply be too strong for the Chris Paul and the Hornets.

    Yes, Bynum recently hyper-extended his surgically-repaired knee, but the Lakers have shown in the past couple years that winning without Bynum in the playoffs is something they can definitely do.

    My prediction is the Lakers win this series in five games.

     

    Game 1: Sunday, April 17 at 12:30 p.m. (@ Los Angeles)

    Game 2: Wednesday, April 20 at 7:30 p.m. (@ Los Angeles)

    Game 3: Friday, April 22 at 6:30 p.m. (@ New Orleans)
    Game 4: Sunday, April 24 at 6:30 p.m. (@ New Orleans)
    Games 5, 6, and 7 will only be played if needed.

Dallas Mavericks vs. Portland Trail Blazers

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    The mighty Mavericks will be tested in this series by the Portland Trail Blazers. Gerald Wallace and LaMarcus Aldridge will be sure to post some big numbers. Although the Blazers are missing players due to injuries, they are not lacking in heart.

    Portland's determination and eagerness to win will keep this series close, but with the loss of Greg Oden earlier in the year and Brandon Roy not being in playoff form quite yet, the Mavericks will win in six games behind the strong leadership and play of MVP candidate Dirk Nowitzki.

     

    Game 1: Saturday, April 16 at 6:30 p.m. (@ Dallas)

    Game 2: Tuesday, April 19 at 6:30 p.m. (@ Dallas)

    Game 3: Thursday, April 21 at 7:30 p.m. (@ Portland)
    Game 4: Saturday, April 23 at 2:00 p.m. (@ Portland)
    Games 5, 6, and 7 will only be played if needed.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Denver Nuggets

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    There has been much hype surrounding the Oklahoma City Thunder this year due to their monumental trade that landed them Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson from the Boston Celtics.

    Expectations are now high. No longer are the Thunder considered to be just a playoff team; they are now thought of as championship contenders.

    However, the Nuggets have made some trades of their own, sending superstar Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks for Mozgov, Chandler, Gallinari, Felton and draft picks.

    This matchup, along with the Celtics/Knicks matchup, may be the two most exciting first-round series in the NBA Playoffs this season. Denver's overall depth is better than the Thunder's, but with that being said, the Nuggets have a lot of very good players, but no great standouts like the Thunders' Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

    The Thunder take this series, winning in seven games behind the leadership of Durant and advance to the second round.

     

    Game 1: Sunday, April 17 at 8:30 p.m. (@ Oklahoma City)

    Game 2: Wednesday, April 20 at 7:00 p.m. (@ Oklahoma City)

    Game 3: Saturday, April 23 at 9:00 p.m. (@ Denver)
    Game 4: Monday, April 25 at 9:30 p.m. (@ Denver)
    Games 5, 6, and 7 will only be played if needed.

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