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NBA 1st Round Playoff Predictions

by Noah Santiago

As the NBA playoffs arrive, excitement builds from fans everywhere. There are many interesting matchups set for the first round. From the highly anticipated Clippers-Mavericks series to one of the biggest rivalries in the NBA, Heat-Celtics, these are my picks for the first round:

Thunder vs Pelicans

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) of the Oklahoma City Thunder drives to the basket during the third quarter against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, March 31, 2024, in New York City. (Dustin Satloff/Getty Images/TNS)

The 1-seeded Thunder take on the eight-seed Pelicans who clinched playoffs after defeating the Kings in the play-in tournament. Both teams have little playoff experience, but the powerful offense and MVP season of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Thunder should be too much for the Pelicans. As the series has started, the Thunder squeaked out a win and are currently up 1-0.

Thunder in 5

Nuggets vs Lakers

Nikola Jokic (15) of the Denver Nuggets is called for an offensive foul against LeBron James (6) of the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half in game four of the Western Conference Finals at Arena on May 22, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images/TNS)

A rematch of the Western Conference Finals from last year where the Nuggets swept the Lakers in four games. The Nuggets have won 8 in a row against the Lakers and haven't lost to them since 2022. This shouldn't be any different especially seeing how the Nuggets turned it on in the second half of Game 1 and are currently up 1-0.

Nuggets in 5

Timberwolves vs Suns

Kevin Durant (35) of the Phoenix Suns drives to the basket against Anthony Edwards (5) of the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first quarter at Target Center on April 14, 2024 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (David Berding/Getty Images/TNS)

The number 1 defense in the NBA, the Timberwolves, take on the Suns in the playoffs for the first time. The Suns had high anticipations coming into the season after acquiring Bradley Beal from the Wizards. But, they struggled throughout the season and barely managed to escape the play-in. The Suns' defense has had some troubles which the TImberwolves will expose as seen in Anthony Edwards' offensive explosion putting the Timberwolves up 1-0.

Timberwolves in 6

Clippers vs Mavericks

LA Clippers guard James Harden (1) celebrates with Paul George (13) after hitting a shot against the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of the NBA Western Conference playoffs at Crypto.Com Arena, Sunday, April 21, 2024, in Los Angeles. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

The Clippers take on the Mavs in a highly anticipated playoff series. The series is filled with superstars from both teams such as Luka Doncic and Kawhi Leonard. Although the Clippers have been playing great this season, the Mavs have been one of the hottest teams in the NBA over the past few weeks. Though down 1-0, the Mavericks will end up on top.

Mavericks in 7

Cavaliers vs Magic

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) drives past Orlando Magic guard Jalen Suggs at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, on Monday, Dec. 11, 2023. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/TNS)

Two of the best defenses in the league. Although both teams have great defense, the Cavs' offense has shown to be more consistent than the Magic. The Magic also have little playoff experience too. Cavs are currently up 1-0.

Cavaliers in 6

Bucks vs Pacers

The Pacers have the best offense in the league, but they also have one of the worst defenses. The Bucks are much more consistent but will not have Giannis for the first few games. The Bucks are also being coached by Doc Rivers, who isn't known for his playoff success, though Damian Lillard's 35 point first half has the Bucks up 1-0.

Pacers in 7

Knicks vs 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid hits the floor, holding his knee as the New York Knick' Jalen Brunson moves the ball up court during the second quarter in Game 1 of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, April 20, 2024, in New York. (Yong Kim/The Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)

The Knicks take on the 76ers who recently got Joel Embiid back and is back to playing like an MVP. The Knicks have Jalen Brunson, who has been playing great for them. The Knicks have better defense, and the 76ers do not play well in the playoffs as the Knicks are currently up 1-0.

Knicks in 6

Heat vs Celtics

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum drives past Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo during the fourth quarter, Sunday, April 21, 2024, at the TD Garden in Boston. (Nancy Lane/Boston Herald/TNS)

This is one of the biggest rivalries in the NBA. A rematch of the two last Eastern Conference finals. But, the Heat will not have Jimmy Butler for this series and will be without Terry Rozier for the first few games. The Celtics have one of the best defenses and offenses in the league, but the Heat always turn it up a notch when playoffs come. This series will be great either way with Celtics up 1-0.

Celtics in 7

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