OPNION: The greatest first round of all time… besides the Hawks
I’m so stupid. I should have had this ready to go last week, but like with most things. I forgot. We only publish twice a week, so I’ll chalk it up to that.
However, we have now seen every first round series of the NBA Playoffs play at least one game. Now that I have seen that, I think I can confidently predict the winner of every series, with minimal details so I don’t look that bad if I am wrong. But I won’t be!
#3 Sacramento Kings vs. #6 Golden State Warriors- After seeing De’Aaron Fox drop 38 points in the first playoff game of his career, I have come to the conclusion of LIGHT THE BEAM. The Kings have the talent to win this series, and if they can just win their home games, they will win this series. However, if the defending champs can steal a game on the “road” then they will take this series. It’s as simple as that.
VERDICT: This will be a seven game series, but I just can’t bet against Steph Curry. Warriors in 7.
#2 Memphis Grizzlies vs. #7 Los Angeles Lakers- LeBron is the greatest player of all time. You could make the case that Ja Morant is the best player in this series, but unfortunately for the Grizz, he got hurt in Game 1. Will he return? And how will he play if he does? Either way, the Lakers have been one of the hottest teams in basketball and just like I said with Steph Curry, I can’t bet against LeBron.
VERDICT: The Ja injury hurts the Grizzlies a lot, but they got a tough shake this year. Lakers in 6.
#4 Phoenix Suns vs. #5 Los Angeles Clippers- If Russell Westbrook can shoot 3/19 and the Clippers still win the game, I don’t know how they can lose. Oh wait, yes I do. Maybe if the Suns would INVOLVE KEVIN DURANT DOWN THE STRETCH? Like yeah, he can make everyone around him better while passing the ball. But he just like, shouldn’t. He is the greatest scorer of our generation, and maybe even all time. So, do that more? The Suns were undefeated with KD until Sunday night, so I will cut them some slack.
VERDICT: Another seven game series for me, but I think that the Suns have to come out on top. If they don’t, this season was a waste. Suns in 7.
#4 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. #5 New York Knicks- Why am I doing this? Why would I ever give the Knicks some good publicity? Well maybe because they won Game 1. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I think this could be the best series of the first round. Two unproven teams battling it out to get wiped in the second round. What’s better? Let these guys create narratives and underdogs stories around their teams, because both of them will be back.
VERDICT: I think this series goes seven games too, but at the end of the day, I have to bet on the Cavs. Strictly because of Donovan Mitchell. He’s the best player in this series, and we have seen him step up in the playoffs before. Cavs in 7.
THIS COULD GO 6 GAMES?
#1 Milwaukee Bucks vs. #8 Miami Heat- Of all people, why did it have to be Giannis? The Greek Freak has led his team to another stellar year, but will it all be for nothing? The Heat have been anything but hot recently, but Michael Jordan’s abandoned son Jimmy Butler has that dog in him, so he could literally carry them to wins just like he did in Game 1. The Bucks should be able to pick up the slack, even without Giannis, but putting the game in the hands of Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton is a completely different story. This Giannis injury scares me a lot, but I think he will come back and do just enough.
VERDICT: With the Bucks being “optimistic” for a Giannis return in Game 2, I think it is safe to say that the Bucks will win this series, but it will be closer than I ever thought. Bucks in 6.
#3 Philadelphia 76ers vs. #6 Brooklyn Nets- This one might be closer to the Sweeps category, but I could see the Nets stealing one of these games just out of pure luck. Joel Embiid is the MVP this season, and they will not lose this series, but I think that this Nets team will find a way to win at least one game. Not much to talk about here.
VERDICT: The 76ers need a layup here, they will face the Celtics next round. That series will be must-watch TV. Sixers in 5.
#2 Boston Celtics vs. #7 Atlanta Hawks- Why? Why was I even excited that the Hawks won the play-in game? All for them to be down by 30 AT HALFTIME? No. I give up. There could not have been a worse matchup for the Hawks. Everyone sucks, Trae Young is gone, and John Collins will never be traded. Please just do not put the rest of the series on national television. Just let the Celtics move on.
VERDICT: Celtics in 4… Don’t give me hope.
#1 Denver Nuggets vs. #8 Minnesota Timberwolves- I think the Wolves gave the Hawks a run for their money when it comes to being embarrassed. Their offense was awful Sunday night. De’Andre Jordan reminded all of us that he was still in the league, that is how bad it got. Simply put, this is just not the Timberwolves’ year. With everything that has happened recently, I do not see any way that the Wolves can pick the pieces back up this season. Something needs to change heading into the 2023-24 season.
VERDICT: Maybe the Wolves can grab a game in the Target Center? I don’t know. For me, this is Nuggets in 4.
With all that being said, the second round will officially look like this.
#1 Denver Nuggets vs. #4 Phoenix Suns
#6 Golden State Warriors vs. #7 Los Angeles Lakers
#1 Milwaukee Bucks vs. #4 Cleveland Cavaliers
#3 Philadelphia 76ers vs. #2 Boston Celtics
If it is not, it’s rigged. Hey Adam Silver, just remember this: I’m always right.
Write to Hayden Lee at Hayden.Lee@my.smsu.edu
Header Photo: Sacramento Kings guards De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk celebrate in the third quarter during Game 1 against the Golden Sate Warriors. (Jose Luis Villega/The Associated press)