1st Seed, Los Angeles Lakers Vs. 8th Seed, Portland Trail Blazers
Prediction: Lakers win in six games.
The Lakers have not been playing well recently, and on the other hand, the Trail Blazers have been playing great. Even with that being said, I still have to go with the Lakers in this series. I know Damian Lillard has been playing out of his mind recently, but it is extremely hard to bet against a LeBron James led team in the playoffs. It may take the Lakers a little bit of time to get back into true championship-level form, but I think they will find their footing after a couple of games against the Trail Blazers.
2nd Seed, Los Angeles Clippers Vs. 7th Seed, Dallas Mavericks
Prediction: Clippers win in five games.
This Clippers team is better than the Mavericks at almost every position including their bench. The thing about the Clippers is that they have a lot of experienced players, whereas the Mavericks are a rather young team. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George should dominate this series. The Clippers have an elite defense which will slow down the magnificent Mavericks offense. Luka will still be Luka, but I don’t think he will be enough to win the series for the Mavericks or even make it that close.
3rd Seed, Denver Nuggets Vs. 6th Seed, Utah Jazz
Prediction: Nuggets win in five games.
This Nuggets roster is insanely deep, and they showed that in the bubble. The Nuggets have changed a lot since the regular season was suspended with the emergence of Michael Porter Jr., who could be huge for them in the playoffs. Mike Conley left the bubble for the birth of his son, and it was reported that he will miss the first two games of the series and could miss the first three games of the series. With no Bojan Bogdanovič, and Mike Conley out for a little, this Jazz team is going to be a shell of its former self until Mike Conley comes back, and even then, they will not be at full strength.
4th Seed, Huston Rockets Vs. 5th Seed, Oklahoma City Thunder
Prediction: Thunder win in six games.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have a very well rounded roster, with great starters, a sixth man of the year candidate coming off of the bench, and some solid players coming off of the bench as well. They have a great mix of youth and experience on their team, led by Point Guard, Chris Paul. The Rockets are playing a very different brand of basketball than the rest of the NBA, going small to space the floor with shooters and open the lane for players like Russell Westbrook to drive and finish. The only problem is that the Rockets will be without Westbrook for some unknown amount of time, which ruins their whole game plan of playing small ball. While Harden is obviously one of the league’s top players, he can’t do it alone.