2023-24 NBA First Round Series Preview

LeBron James and the Lakers have been rewarded with a series against the Denver Nuggets.
Photo Courtesy: Michael Kolch

By DaVince “Dino” Wright

How Did We Get Here?
The 2023-2024 NBA season has been extremely eventful. LA Lakers forward LeBron James became the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. The coaching carousel has shown new life for teams that have struggled for years. The Bucks fired Adrian Griffin their winning coach and brought in Doc Rivers and the Bucks fell from first place in the Eastern Conference. The LA Lakers won the inaugural “In-Season Tournament” but struggled to make the playoffs. The Hawks, Kings, Warriors and Bulls failed to win their play-in series games to make the playoffs. There are superstars who have missed extensive time leading into the first round of the playoffs. If this wasn’t enough, the 1st round playoff series is back to the 7-game series format. This is the time for some new names (bench players) to step up and lead their teams in the playoffs. Keep an eye on some them and look for them to make a splash right now.

First Round Series Thoughts and Predictions

Orlando Magic vs Cleveland Cavaliers
Series Starting: April 20
Time: 12:00 PM
The Orlando Magic were a big surprise coming out of the East this year. They are led by 2nd year man Paolo Banchero who is averaging 22.6 points a game with 6 rebounds and 5 assists. He will be the x-factor for the Magic in this series. The Cavaliers have a proven veteran in Donovan Mitchell. He can do it all averaging 26 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists for his team. His play alone will lift the Cavaliers past the Magic.
Final Prediction: Cavaliers in 5 games (4-1 Final)

Phoenix Suns vs Minnesota Timberwolves
Series Starting: April 20
Time: 2:30 PM
This will be my wild card series in the West! The Timberwolves are fueled by 4-year veteran Anthony Edwards who leads his team in scoring and steals.He is one of the best young talents in the NBA. His running buddy Karl Anthony-Townes will be the x-factor for Minnesota. The Suns have Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal on the floor and are ready to move to the next round. Any one of the Suns superstars can score 50 points in any given game. I’m taking the Suns to move on.
Final Prediction: Suns in 6 games (4-2 Final)

Philadelphia 76ers vs New York Knickerbockers
Starting Starting: April 20
Time: 5:00 PM
The Philadelphia 76ers once sat in the 3rd spot in the East this season. Injuries to key players and a struggling bench have left this team scratching their heads trying to figure out who’s going to step up and lead this team. Center Joel Embiid is the man, but PG Tyrese Maxey will be the x-factor for the 76ers in this one. The Knicks are red hot with the addition of former Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson. He leads the team in scoring with 28.7 points a game. I’m taking the Knicks. They’re on a mission.
Final Predictions: Knicks in 6 (4-2 Final)

LA Lakers vs Denver Nuggets
Series Starting: April 20
Time: 7:30 PM
The Nuggets will dominate the Lakers in the first round. The Lakers will put up a fight in the first 3 games, but the Nuggets are too big, too strong and too deep as a team. I would rather watch the Houston Rockets play the Nuggets. Don’t get me wrong, this series plays a huge part in the Western Conference, but watching LeBron James not play defense isn’t what I want as a fan… especially during the playoffs. Denver’s big men will shine! Center Nikola Jokic, Michael Porter Jr and Aaron Gordon will smother the Lakers! The Lake Show will go home and Denver will go on.
Final Predictions: Nuggets in 5 (4-1 Final)

Miami Heat vs Boston Celtics
Series Starting: April 21
Time: 12:00 PM
The Miami Heat will have their hands full from the opening tip. Small forward Jimmy Butler is out for gGame 1 with an ankle injury. He is the best player on his team, leading them in scoring and steals. Who will step up and take the reins? The Boston Celtics have two of the best young stars in Jason Tatum and Jaylen Brown. This will be an easy series to predict. The Celtics will sweep the Heat! No Jimmy Butler… NO CHANCE!
Final Prediction: Boston in 4 (4-0 Final)

Indiana Pacers vs Milwaukee Bucks
Series Starting: April 21
Time: 6:00 PM
The Indiana Pacers have been one of surprise teams of this season. The Pacers are led by PG Tyrese Haliburton who leads his team in points with 20.1 a game. He’s a decent player but the x-factor will be veteran center Miles Turner. He can score and rebound on both ends. The Bucks are led by the “Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo. He will be a game time decision along with PG Damian Lillard. Could this spell trouble for the Bucks? I think not! The x-factor for the Bucks will be Kris Middleton who is back in playing shape. I’m taking the Bucks to take care of business.
Final Prediction: Milwaukee in 5 (4-1 Final)