So the field of 16 has been set, and frankly while I’m thrilled that the 66 game marathon is done, I’m not optimistic about most of the first round. I expect all four top seeds in the East to prevail (yes, that means I think Atlanta will beat Boston, though that series should be a battle).
In the West, there are two brackets. The 2-3-6-7 side with the Thunder, Lakers, Nuggets and Mavericks should be fun, but most likely will lead to the OKC-Lakers series that everyone who is not a fan of the Nuggets or Mavericks is eagerly awaiting.
The real action for me is on the other side of the Western bracket, the 1-4-5-8, featuring San Antonio versus Utah and Memphis vs. the Los Angeles Clippers. The San Antonio-Utah series has all the hallmarks of a walkover, a 50-16 veteran club versus a young 36-30 one, but think about last season. Memphis upset San Antonio thanks to the play of agile bigs like Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. Utah can take a similar approach with waves of bigs, Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson, threatening to overwhelm the Spurs. I don’t expect an upset but after perhaps a game for Utah to get its sea legs, this should be a competitive series. The Griz are the most underseeded team in the postseason (I could see them coming out of the West), but the Clippers won’t be an easy out, especially if Chris Paul is 100%.
Let the fun begin!
Martin Johnson wrote a weekly NBA column for the New York Sun from 2003-’08, and for http://www.theroot.com from 2008-’10. His sportswriting has also appeared in the NY Times, Wall St. Journal and the Atlantic Monthly.