The first round of the NBA Playoffs are almost over. The Daily Mississippian’s Browning Stubbs takes a look at the current state of the Playoffs.
Golden State Warriors vs. Memphis Grizzlies
The Warriors may have swept the New Orleans Pelicans, but it was nowhere near a blowout, as Golden State’s biggest win in the series was only 11 points. Meanwhile, the Memphis Grizzlies took care of business against the Portland Trailblazers in five games — yet there is a problem for Memphis. Point guard Mike Conley suffered a facial injury in game three that held him out the next two games of the series. Conley hopes to return at some point during the series with Golden State. Plain and simple, Memphis has to have Mike Conley in order to win this series. If Conley can go in Game 1, then I’ll favor Memphis. However, if he’s not out there on the court, the Memphis offense will struggle as Golden State should have the edge.
Houston Rockets vs. San Antonio Spurs
The Rockets looked very strong in their dominating series victory over the Dallas Mavericks. James Harden averaged 28.4 points and an impressive 7.8 assists in the series. Meanwhile, the Spurs are on their quest to repeat as champions, and they don’t have to travel far as the lower seed. This series is going to be fun, as you have two contrasting styles of Houston’s run and gun offense, while the Spurs run a traditional old school style. Even though the Spurs are dominant, they do struggle against young and athletic teams, like the Rockets. This is why I favor the Rockets going into this series.
Atlanta Hawks vs.
This series features two teams that could potentially make a finals run. Atlanta certainly struggled in their series with the Nets on the road. It all starts with Hawks swingman Kyle Korver, who is only shooting 35 percent from the three point line, compared to 49 percent in the regular season. This may be a tough series to win, as Washington holds one of the best crowds in the Eastern Conference. Paul Pierce has been a revelation for the Wizards, as he’s finally showing his veteran leadership on the young Wizards team. This Hawks don’t look like the same team that won 60 games in the regular season, and this is why I’m favoring the Wizards.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs.
This is the dream matchup everyone has been waiting for; LeBron James against a healthy Derrick Rose. The Cavaliers will start this series without guard J.R. Smith for two games due to a suspension, and forward Kevin Love will not return to the playoffs due to a separated shoulder, which is bad news for the Cavaliers. Chicago will certainly have their eye on LeBron as the Bulls can throw Jimmy Butler, Joakim Noah, or Taj Gibson to matchup with LeBron. However, the Cavs still have Kyrie Irving, who will have a lot to prove with the absence of Kevin Love. At the moment, I favor the Bulls due to the uncertainty of the Cavaliers.
*Written assuming the Spurs, Hawks, and Bulls advance in their respective first round matchups.