Saturday Morning Suicides: Ron Glover’s 2013 NBA Playoff Predictions (First Round)

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Fans unfamiliar with Indiana’s Paul George will be in for a treat.

The NBA’s second season begins with some highly anticipated series on tap. In the East the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks continue their heated rivalry for at least another four games. Paul George has assumed the lead role in Indiana and is prepared to introduce himself to the national spotlight against the Atlanta Hawks. Playoffs basketball returns to Brooklyn as the Nets and Chicago Bulls tangle.

In the West, the Denver Nuggets will try to slow down the high-scoring Golden State Warriors. The Memphis Grizzlies are looking to avenge last season’s playoff loss against the Los Angeles Clippers. Finally, can the Los Angeles Lakers pull together without Kobe Bryant and knock off the injury-prone San Antonio Spurs?

Here are my first-round predictions.

 

No. 1 Miami Heat (66-16) vs. No. 8 Milwaukee Bucks (38-44) 

Season series: Heat won 3-1

  • Game 1 in Miami: Sunday, April 21, 7, TNT

  • Game 2 in Miami: Tuesday, April 23, 7:30, NBATV

  • Game 3 in Milwaukee: Thursday, April 25, 7, TNT

  • Game 4 in Milwaukee: Sunday, April 28, 3:30, ABC

  • Game 5 in Miami: Tuesday, April 30

  • Game 6 in Milwaukee: Thursday, May 2

  • Game 7 in Miami: Saturday, May 4

With free agency looming, it’s hard to believe Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings are focused on such a monumental task. Miami has avoided  major injuries and should be in good shape entering this series. The Bucks have front court bangers in Ersa Ilyasova, John Henson and Larry Sanders — who should give the Heat trouble on the glass. Miami put together a 27-game winning streak and is entering the playoffs on an eight-game run. Is a sweep into the NBA Finals possible?

Prediction: Miami in four

No 2 New York Knicks (54-28) vs. No. 7 Boston Celtics (41-40)

Season Series: Knicks won 3-1

  • Game 1 in New York: Saturday, April 20, 3, ABC

  • Game 2 in New York: Tuesday, April 23, 8, TNT

  • Game 3 in Boston: Friday, April 26, 8, ESPN

  • Game 4 in Boston: Sunday, April 28, 1, ABC (regional)

  • Game 5 in New York: Wednesday, May 1

  • Game 6 in Boston: Friday, May 3

  • Game 7 in New York: Sunday, May 5

Boston has more than a puncher’s chance in this series. The inspired play of Jeff Green and the playoff experience of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett will go a long way. The Knicks will counter with one of the best scoring combos in Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith. If Raymond Felton is able to drive and kick to open shooters this could be a four or five game series. The health and effectiveness of Tyson Chandler could tilt the momentum of this series very quickly. The best way to slow down Carmelo Anthony is to get into his head. If all else fails expect Kevin Garnett to needle the NBA scoring champion. Expect Kenyon Martin to make his presence felt if Garnett feels froggy.

Prediction: New York in seven

No. 3 Indiana Pacers vs. No. 6 Atlanta Hawks (44-38)

Season series: Tied 2-2.

  • Game 1 in Indianapolis: Sunday, April 21, 1, TNT

  • Game 2 in Indianapolis: Wednesday, April 24, 7:30, NBATV

  • Game 3 in Atlanta: Saturday, April 27, 7:30, ESPN

  • Game 4 in Atlanta: Monday, April 29

  • Game 5 in Indianapolis: Wednesday, May 1

  • Game 6 in Atlanta: Friday, May 3

  • Game 7 in Indianapolis: Sunday, May 5

The Pacers are one of the NBA’s best defensive teams — a trend which should continue in the first round. Atlanta finished 4-6 down the stretch. The Hawks are capable of winning this series if their shots fall and Al Horford at Josh Smith control the paint. Jeff Teague has quietly come into his own this season and could give the Pacers fits if he’s allowed to play a wide open floor game. The Hawks have no defensive answer for Paul George — which will ultimately decide this series. Roy Hibbert and David West will make things physical for Horford and Smith. In the end, the Pacers defensive prowess will wear down the Hawks. 

Prediction: Indiana in six

No. 4 Brooklyn Nets (49-33) vs. No. 5 Chicago Bulls (45-37)

Season series: Bulls won 3-1

  • Game 1 in New York: Saturday, April 20, 8, ESPN

  • Game 2 in New York: Monday, April 22, 8, TNT

  • Game 3 in Chicago: Thursday, April 25, 8:30, NBATV

  • Game 4 in Chicago: Saturday, April 27, 2, TNT

  • Game 5 in New York: Monday, April 29

  • Game 6 in Chicago: Thursday, May 2

  • Game 7 in New York: Saturday, May 4

The good news for Brooklyn is Deron Williams has returned to his all-star form. The bad news is Joe Johnson has progressively faded. Brook Lopez is playing well, his battles with Chicago’s Joakim Noah should be physical and intense. Same applies for Reggie Evans and Carlos Boozer. The Bulls are prone to go into an offensive slumber through quarters and sometimes a full game, yielding ugly numbers. At the same time this is still a great defensive team capable of doing the same to their opposition. Nate Robinson’s play this season has to garner him some votes for someone’s post season award. Good, bad or ugly, Robinson has assumed the offensive burden in the absence of Derrick Rose. Jimmy Butler is a solid scorer and defender the Nets had better keep an eye on. Will P.J. Carlesimo need to win this series to keep his job in Brooklyn? I believe the Bulls have played under enough pressure and duress the entire season to continue their success against the Nets.

Prediction: Bulls in six

No. 1 Oklahoma City Thunder (60-22) vs. No. 8 Houston Rockets (45-37)

Season series: Thunder won 2-1

  • Game 1 in Oklahoma City: Sunday, April 21, 9:30, TNT

  • Game 2 in Oklahoma City: Wednesday, April 24, 7, TNT

  • Game 3 in Houston: Saturday, April 27, 9:30, ESPN (regional)

  • Game 4 in Houston: Monday, April 29

  • Game 5 in Oklahoma City: Wednesday, May 1

  • Game 6 in Houston: Friday, May 3

  • Game 7 in Oklahoma City: Sunday, May 5

Chances for a Houston upset are not good, but this will be an entertaining series. If the Rockets should be in every game if they get hot from the outside. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are two of the games most dangerous players. Westbrook has come into his own this season, improving his shot selection. What more can you say about Durant that hasn’t been said already? James Harden is out to make the Thunder regret their early season move sending him to Houston. If any player is capable of dropping 50 in this series, it’s Harden. No player scores in a flurry like Harden. If Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin can give Harden a boost, we should be in for a good series. Omir Asik will be busy tangling with defensive specialist Serge Ibaka. Asik is the Rockets best defender — not a good thing facing scorers like Durant and Westbrook.

Prediction: Thunder in six

No. 2 San Antonio Spurs (58-24) vs. No.7 Los Angeles Lakers (45-37)

Season series: Spurs won 2-1

  • Game 1 in San Antonio: Sunday, April 21, 3:30, ABC (regional)

  • Game 2 in San Antonio: Wednesay, April 24, 9:30, TNT

  • Game 3 in Los Angeles: Friday, April 26, 10:30, ESPN

  • Game 4 in Los Angeles: Sunday, April 28, 7, TNT

  • Game 5 in San Antonio: Tuesday, April 30

  • Game 6 in Los Angeles: Thursday, May 2

  • Game 7 in San Antonio: Saturday, May 4

It would be great to see the Lakers come together and pull of he upset against the Spurs — which is highly possible. The difference is Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol have begun to jell over the past month while the Spurs have made adjustments to injuries the entire season. If it’s Manu Ginobili or Tony Parker, the Spurs roll on and don’t miss a beat. The Spurs can be had if they miss their open shots and Gasol and Howard give Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter hell in the post at both ends. Tony Parker could average between 25 and 30 points in this series on a bum ankle. Steve Blake may be better equipped than Steve Nash to chase Parker around. Kawhi Leonard, Gary Neal and Danny Green are solid and capable of providing quality minutes. Metta World Peace has to average 15-plus in this series for the Lakers to have a real shot.

Prediction: Spurs in six

No. 3 Denver Nuggets (57-25) vs. No. 6 Golden State Warriors (47-35)

Season series: Nuggets won 3-1

  • Game 1 in Denver: Saturday, April 21, 5:30, ESPN

  • Game 2 in Denver: Tuesday, April 23, 10:30, TNT

  • Game 3 in Oakland: Friday, April 26, 10:30, ESPN2

  • Game 4 in Oakland: Sunday, April 28, 9:30, TNT

  • Game 5 in Denver: Tuesday, April 30

  • Game 6 in Oakland: Thursday, May 2

  • Game 7 in Denver: Saturday, May 4

The season-ending injury to Danilo Gallinari takes this to possibly a six or seven game series. Gallinari was the team’s second leading scorer and one of their most efficient outside shooters. Denver still has Corey Brewer Wilson Chandler and Andre Iguodala to fill the wings as shooters or slashers. Ty Lawson is a jet, capable of running any defender ragged. Kenneth Faried is questionable, but he should be ready to go. Despite the improved play of JeVale McGee, Faried is Denver’s most consistent front court player. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are the best back court in the league from the perimeter. Curry is capable of shouldering the Warriors scoring load if he has to. Rookie Harrison Barnes is rounding into form. Steady power forward David Lee finally has some help on the glass with a healthy Andrew Bogut in the lineup. Andris Biedrins is questionable, but should be available. Veteran spark plug Jarrett Jack cooled down in the closing weeks of the season but he is still another scoring threat the Nuggets will have to deal with. The Nuggets are an NBA-best 38-3 at home.

Prediction: Warriors in seven

No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers (56-26) vs. No. 5 Memphis Grizzlies (56-26)

Season series: Clippers won 3-1

  • Game 1 in Los Angeles: Saturday, April 21, 10:30, ESPN

  • Game 2 in Los Angeles: Monday, April 22, 10:30, TNT

  • Game 3 in Memphis: Thursday, April 25, 9:30, TNT

  • Game 4 in Memphis: Saturday, April 27, 4:30, TNT

  • Game 5 in Los Angeles: Tuesday, April 30

  • Game 6 in Memphis: Friday, May 3

  • Game 7 in Los Angeles: Sunday, May 5

These two teams meet in a rematch of last year’s first-round series. I was one of those shaking my head when the Grizzlies shipped Rudy Gay off to the Toronto Raptors. It looks like the deal has paid off handsomely as the Grizzlies have become more of a smashmouth team. Mike Conley is one of the quicker point guards capable of getting his own shot. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol are the best one-two punch in the paint. Thrown in defensive specialists Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince and Memphis is easily able to dictate the pace of this series. Chris Paul is going to try his best to run the Grizzlies into the ground. The Clippers high-wire act may be seen on a limited basis due to Memphis’ defense. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan will have to earn theirs on the blocks. Jamal Crawford is the one man capable of opening things up for the Clippers if he gets hot from the outside. Reserves Caron Butler, Grant Hill and Eric Bledsoe cannot be overlooked.

Prediction: Grizzlies in seven

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