Man oh Man!!! That was truly one of the greatest first rounds I’ve seen in NBA playoff history. Five Game 7s…and only one team was swept. And after one of the most exciting opening rounds, it is time to move on to the conference semifinals.
Here are my picks for round TWO
#1 Indiana Pacers vs. #4 Washington Wizards
Even with their poor play in the first round, I liked what I saw from the team in the last game of the series. I saw a team that was returning to what made them great early in the season. Paul George took over, Lance Stephenson was a beast, and Roy Hibbert did more than just show up. I’m going with the Pacers in 6.
#2 Miami Heat vs. #6 Brooklyn Nets
Miami needed the rest they got after soundly beating the Charlotte Bobcats. They needed that rest because they are going up a team in Brooklyn that beat them four times this season. The Nets were the only team to do that. The teams match up fairly well versus one another, and this should be one of the better series in this round. But I see the Nets having needed the same rest the Heat got (thanks to their aging veterans), and after playing 7 with Toronto, they’ll run out of gas. Miami in 6.
#1 San Antonio Spurs vs #5 Portland Trailblazers
The San Antonio Spurs are doing what they’ve done the past few years — quietly move to the top of the west, and prove the old guys still know how to get it done. After losing to the Heat in the Finals last year, many thought the Spurs wouldn’t be back this season, and definitely not as the West’s top team. Those people were wrong. Portland did a good job of knocking off the Rockets. Damien Lillard showed he is, and will continue to be, a force to be reckoned with in the league. And LaMarcus Aldridge made a case for himself as well. But the wily vets take this series. Spurs in 6.
#2 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Both teams faced adversity in their first round series. Thunder had to deal with criticism of the team’s two top stars not playing up to the level of expectation people have for them. And the Clippers had to deal with the motherlode of scandals erupting in the middle of their series versus the Golden State Warriors. Both solidified the teams. Both pushed their stars to step it up. And it will show in this series. Home-court advantage will be the only deciding factor. Oklahoma City in 7.