NBA 2013 Playoff Predictions, Preview And Schedule For First Round Matchups

Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony has scored at least 35 points in five straight games and the Knicks are looking to win a playoff series for the first time in 13 years. Reuters

The 2013 NBA Playoffs are finally set to get underway.

Starting on April 20, 16 teams will compete for the chance to bring home the NBA championship. The Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder enter the playoffs as the top seeds, and are looking to renew their NBA Finals matchup from 2012.

The Western Conference appears to be a lot more competitive than the East. Every team in the West has won at least 45 games in the regular season, while three teams in the East failed to reach that mark.

Below is a preview, prediction and complete schedule for all of the first round matchups.

No.1 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. No.8 Houston Rockets

Game 1: at OKC, Sun., April 21, 9:30 p.m., TNT; Game 2: at OKC, Wed., April 24, 7:00 p.m., TNT; Game 3: at HOU, Sat., April 27, 9:30 p.m., ESPN; Game 4: at HOU, Mon., April 29, TBD; Game 5: at OKC, Wed., May 1, TBD*; Game 6: at HOU, Fri., May 3, TBD*; Game 7: at OKC, Sun., May 5, TBD*

James Harden could help the Rockets steal a game by having a big scoring performance, but the Thunder shouldn’t have much trouble winning this series. Houston is one of the worst defensive teams in the league and they won’t be able to contain Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook. Jeremy Lin will have his hands full with one of the league’s best point guards.

Prediction: Oklahoma City in five

No.2 San Antonio Spurs vs. No.7 Los Angeles Lakers

Game 1: at SA, Sun., April 21, 3:30 p.m., ABC; Game 2: at SA, Wed., April 24, 9:30 p.m., TNT; Game 3: at LA, Fri., April 26, 10:30 p.m., ESPN; Game 4: at LA, Sun., April 28, 7:00 p.m., TNT; Game 5: at SA, Tue., April 30, TBD*; Game 6: at LA, Thu., May 2, TBD*; Game 7: at SA, Sat.., May 4, TBD*

In their first game without Kobe Bryant, the Lakers proved that they can beat the Spurs. Dwight Howard seems more comfortable as the team’s No.1 star, and Pau Gasol is playing better than he did earlier in the season. The Spurs limped towards the finish line, and Tony Parker hasn’t looked the same since returning from an ankle injury. Having home-court advantage might keep San Antonio from being upset. They are 35-6 at the AT&T Center.

Prediction: San Antonio in seven

No.3 Denver Nuggets vs. No.6 Golden State Warriors

Game 1: at DEN, Sat., April 20, 5:30 p.m., ESPN; Game 2: at DEN, Tue., April 23, 10:30 p.m., TNT; Game 3: at GS, Fri., April 26, 10:30 p.m., ESPN2; Game 4: at GS, Sun., April 28, 9:30 p.m., TNT; Game 5: at DEN, Tue., April 30, TBD*; Game 6: at GS, Thu., May 2, TBD*; Game 7: at DEN, Sat., May 4, TBD*

Few teams played as well as the Nuggets in the second half of the season, and the Warriors struggled, somewhat, after the All-Star Break. However, Denver will be without Danilo Gallinari, who suffered a torn ACL. The Nuggets lack of star power could hurt them in the postseason. Few players can score like Stephen Curry, and he might be the difference in helping Golden State pull off the upset.

Prediction: Golden State in seven

No.4 Los Angeles Clippers vs. No.5 Memphis Grizzlies

Game 1: at LA, Sat., April 20, 10:30 p.m., ESPN; Game 2: at LA, Mon., April 22, 10:30 p.m., TNT; Game 3: at MEM, Thu., April 25, 9:30 p.m., TNT; Game 4: at MEM, Sat., April 27, 4:30 p.m., TNT; Game 5: at LA, Tue., April 30, TBD*; Game 6: at MEM, Fri., May 3, TBD*; Game 7: at LA, Sun., May 5, TBD*

In the 2012 playoffs, the Clippers got the better of the Grizzlies. Memphis is a different team, though, after having traded Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors. Marc Gasol has emerged as, possibly, the best center in the NBA. Chris Paul is playing like an MVP, but the Grizzlies frontline of Gasol and Zach Randolph has been better than L.A.’s combination of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.

Prediction: Memphis in six

No.1 Miami Heat vs. No.8 Milwaukee Bucks

Game 1: at MIA, Sun., April 21, 7:00 p.m., TNT; Game 2: at MIA, Tue., April 23, 7:30 p.m., NBA TV; Game 3: at MIL, Thu., April 25, 7:00 p.m., TNT; Game 4: at MIL, Sun., April 28, 3:30 p.m., ABC; Game 5: at MIA, Tue., April 30, TBD*; Game 6: at MIL, Thu., May 2, TBD*; Game 7: at MIA, Sat., May 4, TBD*

It’s going to be extremely difficult for any team in the East to beat the Heat, and the Bucks certainly aren’t the club to do it. Unless LeBron James or Dwyane Wade suffers an injury, none of these games will be very close.

Prediction: Miami in four

No.2 New York Knicks vs. No.7 Boston Celtics

Game 1: at NY, Sat., April 20, 3:30 p.m., ABC; Game 2: at NY, Tue., April 23, 8:00 p.m., TNT; Game 3: at BOS, Fri., April 26, 8:00 p.m., ESPN; Game 4: at BOS, Sun., April 28, 1:00 p.m., ABC; Game 5: at NY, Wed., May 1, TBD*; Game 6: at BOS, Fri., May 3, TBD*; Game 7: at NY, Sun., May 5, TBD*

The Knicks enter the playoffs hotter than any team, having won 16 of their last 18. Boston won 13 fewer games in the regular season, but their toughness has proven to give New York trouble. Paul Pierce is always good against the Knicks and he will help keep it a competitive series. However, Carmelo Anthony and his supporting cast have shot the ball too well this year to be bounced in the first round by a .500 team.

Prediction: New York in six

No.3 Indiana Pacers vs. No.6 Atlanta Hawks

Game 1: at IND, Sun., April 21, 1:00 p.m., TNT; Game 2: at IND, Wed., April 24, 7:30 p.m., NBA TV; Game 3: at ATL, Sat., April 27, 7:00 p.m., ESPN; Game 4: at ATL, Mon., April 29, TBD*; Game 5: at IND, Wed., May 1, TBD*; Game 6: at ATL, Fri., May 3, TBD*; Game 7: at IND, Sun., May 5, TBD*

Every year, the Hawks make it to the playoffs, but fail to do any damage once they get there. Against a top defensive team like the Pacers, don’t expect that to change. This might be the ugliest series in the first round.

Prediction: Indiana in five

No.4 Brooklyn Nets vs. No.5 Chicago Bulls

Game 1: at BK, Sat., April 20, 8:00 p.m., ESPN; Game 2: at BK, Mon., April 22, 8:00 p.m., TNT; Game 3: at CHI, Thu., April 25, 8:30 p.m., NBA TV; Game 4: at CHI, Sat., April 27, 2:00 p.m., TNT; Game 5: at BK, Mon., April 29, TBD*; Game 6: at CHI, Thu., May 2, TBD*; Game 7: at BK, Sat., May 4, TBD*

This first round matchup might be the toughest to predict. Even with Derrick Rose out for the season, the Bulls managed to win 45 games, and have played well against elite competition. Deron Williams and Brook Lopez are playing very well, but Chicago’s defense may be able to contain them. The Bulls beat the Nets three times in the regular season and have proven that they match up well with Brooklyn.

Prediction: Chicago in seven

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