It is one of the most exciting times of the year for me as well as any sports fan, the NBA playoffs. Now that we know all of the 2017 participants I thought that I should run down my first round predictions as well as the final outcome of this seasons playoffs.

Eastern Conference

Boston Celtics (1) v.s. Chicago Bulls (8) – Injuries stink. I honestly believe the wrong team made the eighth seed as the surprising Miami Heat just barely missed the mark. It took the Heat a while to get adjusted to life after Dwayne Wade and injuries to key players Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters at pivotal moments ultimately lead to them being on the outside looking in. Looking at the Eastern Conference the possibility for an upset is most likely in this matchup. The regular season was split between the two teams. Isiah Thomas has been exceptional this year but he will need help offensively specifically from former all-star Al Horford to win the series. It will be cool to see Rajon Rondo go at his old team. Neither teams shoot the three well but Chicago has so much experience between Rondo, Wade and Jimmy Butler it may be too much for the Celts to overcome. It is difficult for me seeing Fred Hoiberg out coaching Brad Stevens but I want some excitement so I’m going with the Bulls in an upset.

Cleveland Cavaliers (2) v.s. Indiana Pacers (7) – The defending world champions don’t have much to worry about in this opening bout vs the Indiana Pacers. Even with the lack of focus from the Cavs lately they should not have to break a sweat even though all-star Paul George will put up great numbers. The best thing about this series is that Larry Bird had the where with all to resign Lance Stephenson before season’s end and he always makes for a great meme. Besides Lebron James and crew are well rested wink wink. It would be extremely embarrassing for them to lose in the first round.

Toronto Raptors (3) v.s. MIlwaukee Bucks (6) – The Bucks definitely had  their growing pains this season but found a way to solidify their playoff berth. On the good foot Giannis Antetokounmpo is freakishly inhuman and emerged as an all-star this season. The combination of Toronto’s all-star back court of Kyle Lowery and Demar Derozan along with midseason additions Serge Ibaka and Pj Tucker will ultimately be too much for the Young Bucks to handle. Canada just keeps getting cooler

Washington Wizards (4) v.s. Atlanta Hawks (5) – The Washington Wizards I think will do away with the Atlanta Hawks pretty easily in my estimation. The back court of John Wall and Bradley Beal has been playing out of their mind all season and will transfer that energy to the post season. I am  interested to see if  Hawks all-star Paul Milsap will be focused on this series or have one eye on free agency however.

Western Conference

Golden State Warriors (1) v.s. Portland Trail Blazers (8) –  This could get ugly. The super star team consisting of reigning back to back most valuable player Steph Curry and all-stars Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green are too talented and experienced to have trouble in the first round. The good thing going for the Blazers is that often overlooked superstar Damian Lillard has picked his team for the upset. Some players say statements like this just to sound competitive and some actually believe it. Dame Dollar is one who actually believes it and has been known to pull of miracles in the playoffs.
San Antonio Spurs (2) v.s Memphis Grizzlies (7) This is probably going to be the least entertaining of all the first round matchups. Majority of this series will probably end up on NBA tv. I have San Antonio winning pretty handily here. They have next level superstar Kawhi Leonard who has is arguably the best two-way player in the game. Memphis has the same story every year. They are a good team that always makes the playoffs but the lack of perimeter scoring in todays run and gun NBA will ultimately lead to their exit.

Houston Rockets (3) vs Oklahoma City Thunder(6)

Westbrook, Harden
That’s all that needs to be said. Both candidates are more than deserving for Most Valuable Player honors and I am glad they are meeting in the first round. The NBA should make an exception that the whoever wins this series then that player should get MVP. I am so torn with this match up and as much as I love Mike D’antoni and the high power offence the Rockets posses, I have a feeling Westbrook is going to prove me wrong the way he has done numerous times throughout this season. Why Not?

Los Angeles Clippers (4) v.s. Utah Jazz (5) I have to go with Utah on this one. I am really hoping the Jazz can pull this off as I feel a first round elimination would lead all-star guard Gordon Hayward to opt out in free agency and derail all of the progress this team has made. For the Clippers they need to lose. As currently constructed this is simply not a title contender and if they are not successful in this match up they will finally be forced to blow up the core of coach Doc Rivers, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan instead of being bounced in the second round every season.

Ultimately I have the defending champions Cleveland Cavaliers from the east and the number one seed from the west Golden State Warriors meeting in the NBA finals for the third consecutive year. I wish this season the playoffs seemed less unpredictable but it has been a two team race the past couple of years with the same teams getting more stacked. I have the Warriors going over and unless there is some sort of act from congress there is just no scenario where the Dubs do not end this season with out the title. The Warriors are an embarassment of riches and anything less than a championship from them would be colossal failure. Here is to some great basketball for the next few weeks.

-Caleb Raves