2021 NBA Playoffs: 1st Round Preview

Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets know the playoffs are strictly business. Photo Courtesy: Mark Sebastian

By DaVince “Dino” Wright

It’s that time of year when the NBA has its own tournament to crown its new champion. Last year, the LA Lakers won the championship, but had to play in the play-in tournament to get a seat in this year’s playoffs. In this article I will list list the teams, the match ups and give my predictions for each series.

Eastern Conference

No.1 Philadelphia 76ers vs. No. 8 Washington Wizards
I can tell you that the Wizards have struggled with the 76ers for the past 3 years. The Wizards backcourt of Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal will look to change the fortune for the Wizards. Philadelphia has the advantage in the paint with Joel Embiid. I’m taking Philadelphia in 5 games.

No. 2 Brooklyn Nets vs. No. 7 Boston Celtics
Boston has had the Nets number this year. Brooklyn’s “big 3” hasn’t played together that much this year, but this series will tell the tale. Boston will win at least two games maybe more to make things interesting. Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irvin and James Harden will struggle in the first two games, but will put it all together by Game 3. I’m taking Brooklyn in 6.

No. 3 Milwaukee Bucks vs. No. 6 Miami Heat
This will be the most watched series in the East. Miami is lead by Jimmy Butler who’s the heart and soul of the Heat. If he’s on the Heat is hard to beat, he will be the key. Last year’s MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo will impose his will against the much smaller Heat defenders. Bucks Guard Chris Middleton has to be aggressive in this one. I’m taking the Bucks in 6!

No. 4 New York Knicks vs. No. 5 Atlanta Hawks
This one is a head scratcher. Both teams are surprising and both are trying to make some noise in this year’s playoffs. Let’s be honest, no one really cares for the winner of this series because the winner will be the sacrificial lamb for the winner of the Milwaukee and Miami series. I’m taking Atlanta in the one. It’s going 5 games.

Western Conference

No.1 Utah Jazz vs. No.8 Memphis Grizzlies
Utah has been ripping up the NBA all season. The Jazz defense has snuffing out top offenses all year. Guard Donovan Mitchell has lead this team to the best record in the league. Can you believe that the Grizzlies beat the Warriors in overtime get into the playoffs. Well, I’m taking the Jazz in a sweep!

No. 2 Phoenix Suns vs. No. 7 LA Lakers
Please don’t sleep on the Suns. This year they have owned the defending champions. Adding PG Chris Paul to this young team has changed the landscape of the Suns in the West. Yet somehow they are heading into the series as underdogs… LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Andre Drummond will be hard to beat. Recent injuries and guys coming off IR will be the key for the team. I’m taking Phoenix in 6 games! Yeah I said it!

No. 3 Denver Nuggets vs. No. 6 Portland Trail Blazers
My heart wants to go with Portland, but my head is calling me a fool! Denver is way to big and physical around the bucket. Their starting 5 is averaging 6’9 across the board. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum will have their hands full. Remember this… “Size Matters” in this series from start to finish. I’m taking Denver in 6!

No. 4 LA Clippers vs. No. 5 Dallas Mavericks
This will be a tough physical series from start to finish. Last year the Clippers ended the Mavericks playoff run in the first round and are looking to do it again this year. This series won’t be easy for both teams. Dallas PG Luka Doncic has to trust his team and distribute the ball. Kahwi Leonard will be a pest on defense. I’m taking LA in 6!