With another year of playoff action starting up tomorrow afternoon, we asked our writers to pick which series they found the most interesting.
Here are their responses:
Jack Maloney (@jmaloney9): After another fun season, the NBA playoffs are finally upon us. There are a number if great first round match-ups, but the one I’m most looking forward to is Denver vs. Golden State. It brings together two of the most exciting teams in the league. Both are in the top 10 in offensive efficiency, with Denver averaging 107.6 points per 100 possessions and Golden State averaging 104.2 points per 100 possessions. They are also two of the fastest teams in the NBA; both ranking in the top 4 of pace factor according to John Hollinger on ESPN.com. The match-up will also bring the playoff debut for Stephen Curry, who just came off the greatest three-point shooting season in history (45.3% from deep while setting the single season record for most threes made). It should be an exciting, fast paced series. And hey, we’re sure to get a few memorable moments from JaVale McGee, so what more can you ask for from a series.
Sonny Giuliano (@SonnyCG): You can’t really go wrong with any of the four first round series out in the Western Conference. I love the history behind a Spurs/Lakers series, even without Kobe Bryant in the mix. I can’t wait to see Stephen Curry make his playoff debut in what will surely be a high scoring series of games against Denver. And who isn’t excited about James Harden going toe to toe to toe with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. None of those are my selection. I’m always an advocate of bad blood, intensity, and rematches in a playoff series, so I’ll make the Grizzlies/Clippers series my choice. These two teams met last year in a very intriguing first round series that resulted in the Clippers winning a game seven on the road, completely crushing my pre-playoff selection of a Grizzlies/Heat Finals matchup.
Both teams look a little differently than they did last year, but that doesn’t change the fact that with a year of playoff hostility under their belts, this should once again be a knuckle-buster of a first round series. Last year sizzle prevailed over steak, but I think it’s a different story this year. A healthy Zach Randolph will get the best of Blake Griffin and Tony Allen will be able to frustrate Chris Paul just enough to allow the Grizzlies to grind out a 4-3 series victory.
Vijay Shravah: I truly believe six of the eight first round matchups are going to be great, but the Knicks-Celtics series catches my eye the most. New York finished the season very strong, while Boston has kind of limped to the finish. But if there’s any team that can turn on a switch, it’s the Celtics. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have continued to prove over several years now that they are not quite washed up yet. They looked completely dead in the water earlier in the year, and when Rajon Rondo went down, they went on an eight-game winning tear. Against a team yet to have proven itself in the playoffs like the Knicks, they could impose their style of play and expose New York mentally. However, the Knicks have appeared to turn a corner in their quest for a playoff run after securing the 2nd seed in the East. With Tyson Chandler in the mix, the Knicks are significantly improved defensively. That said, there is just as much of a chance that Chandler, Melo and company could exploit the Celtics’ aging and injury depleted roster. Could this be the year NY finally win a playoff series for the first time since 1999?
Overall, this is the only matchup that I find completely impossible to predict and truly can go either way, with ALL potential series outcomes in play (4-0, 4-1, 4-2, or 4-3 by EITHER team). This is the only series I think legitimately has this spectrum of potential outcomes.
Quentin Haynes (@Haynsenburg): Nuggets-Warriors: After losing Gallo, the Nuggets seem to be a team in flux. Can they win a first round series against Golden State? Sure, but I think Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson will shoot and steal one game against Denver at Denver. Also, Oracle will be electric. The crowd could clinch two wins for Golden State. I think Faried is the wildcard. If he’s there game one, I think this goes five. If he’s not, I wouldn’t be shocked if this went seven.
Reece Hooker (@ReeceJHooker):