Round 1 Picks and Predictions
(1) Utah Jazz vs (8) Memphis Grizzlies
Regular Season : Utah won the season series, 3-0
Injuries : Donovan Mitchell (ankle) is currently listed out for the Jazz, but he has said he will be good to go for game 1. Sean McDermott is out for the Grizzlies with a foot injury, no information available on his return date.
My Prediction : I think the Jazz might sweep this one, with all due respect to Memphis.
Best Bets : JV to double/double. Rudy to double/double. Total points over.
The Utah Jazz had an excellent season and it’s time for them to prove that they can do it in the post season. They’ve got the chemistry, the experience and the talent. They just have to put it all together.
They shoot the 3 ball incredibly well and have so much offensive firepower. The Grizzlies have heart, but I don’t think that they have enough to stop Utah. We might see some shootouts in this series, but I think Utah will prevail pretty easily.
Utah are fresh. I imagine that Memphis will be pretty tired after two play in games and the additional travel. Still, Memphis have nothing to be ashamed about and this has been an incredible season for them. Maybe I’m wrong to write them off in 4. I guess we will see.
(2) Phoenix Suns vs (7) Los Angeles Lakers
Regular Season : Phoenix won the series 2-1, but it is worth nothing that one or both of AD and LeBron James missed all of those games.
Injuries : Nothing listed for L.A., but that doesn’t mean they aren’t banged up. For Phoenix, Abdel Nader is out indefinitely after a recent knee surgery. Cameron Johnson (wrist) and DeAndre Ayton (knee) are both listed out, but Monty Williams plans to have them ready for game 1.
My Prediction : This is really tough. How often is the #2 seed the underdog? Give me the Lakers in 6.
Best Bets : ??? Total points under, maybe?
This should be a really good series to watch. Each team has their own dynamic duo and each team has a lot of decent role players. It’s hard to separate these teams. A lot of money will be down on the Lakers, but I wouldn’t be so quick to write off the Suns. They earned their spot at 2.
For the Lakers, their health could be a real concern. They aren’t doing this without LeBron and he is far from 100%. AD has also missed his fair share of time this season. You never, ever want to see a player get injured, but an injury now would spell defeat for Los Angeles. I hope everyone stays healthy, but it could be a real concern for the Lakers.
CP3 has been great for Phoenix and it’s obvious to see the difference he has made to that team. I’m certain nothing will change there. For me, it’s Booker that needs to step up. I don’t mean any disrespect, but he does need to take his game to another level. Against the Lakers, he averages around 20 points per game and shoots a miserable 22% from 3. That will not cut it. Booker will need to be much closer to 30 points and 35-40% for the Suns to have a chance. That won’t be easy though, the Lakers are the #1 ranked defense in the Association.
Turnovers will be another key thing to watch in this series. The Suns are one of the best teams in the league at protecting the basketball, whereas the Lakers are one of the best at forcing turnovers. Something has to give here and it could be the deciding factor.
I really, really want to take the Suns to win this series. It could all line-up and be the perfect storm for them. However, LeBron has never lost a first round playoff series in his career (I’m pretty sure). It’s hard to bet against one of the greatest players of all time. Give me the Lakers in 6, but I’ll be watching, not betting.
(3) Denver Nuggets vs (6) Portland Trail Blazers
Regular Season : Denver take it, 2-1
Injuries : The big one for Denver is Jamal Murray. Their superstar will miss the entire post season after an ACL injury. PJ Dozier will miss the entire first round (at least) with a groin injury. Will Barton is out for Game 1 with a hamstring injury. Finally, Austin Rivers is day-to-day with a non COVID related illness.
For Portland, it looks like they will be without Zach Collins (ankle) for Game 1 and possible longer.
My Prediction : Yeesh. Someone in 7. I’ll take Denver.
Best Bets : Jokic to go over his PRA. CJ 30+ points.
I’d say that the injuries could spell trouble for Denver, but it hasn’t slowed them down so far. Between MPJ and Jokic, they just keep finding a way to win basketball.
Portland haven’t exactly been impressive, in my opinion, but they have picked up a little bit of steam as of late. If CJ and Dame get cooking, they can accomplish a lot. CJ has been great all year long, right up until his injury. How healthy is he feeling right now?
I believe in CJ more than I do in Dame at the moment. I don’t know how promising that is for Portland. Dame has a history of turning up when it matters. Let’s see if he can do it again.
I’m not concerned about their ability to score though, it’s their ability to stop Denver from scoring that I’m sceptical about. This will be a closely contested series, but Denver have 2 major advantages : Jokic and the Pepsi Centre. I think Denver have such a strong advantage at home, which is ultimately the reason I’m taking them in 7.
(4) Los Angeles Clippers vs (5) Dallas Mavericks
Regular Season : The Mavericks won the series 2-1, including that massive thrashing earlier in the season.
Injuries : It looks like J.J. Reddick (heel) will miss Game 1 and most likely the entire first round for Dallas. Maxi Kleber (achilles) is day-to-day, but listed as probable for Game 1.
The Clippers will be without Amir Coffey due to health and safety protocols.
My Prediction : I took the Mavs last year and they lost. I believed in them more back then, than I do now. Clippers in 6.
Best Bets : Scoring! Luka, KP, PG13 and Kawhi can all go 25+ points.
I just don’t believe in this Mavericks team like I once did. They’ve had a pretty solid season and managed to skip the play-in, which was nice. I understand that it has been hard with Kristaps, but to me, it just feels like they are lacking something.
Speaking of KP, his injury status will be key. He isn’t currently injured, but he will have to remain healthy if the Mavericks are to have any chance at all. Luka cannot do it all by himself. On the topic of Luka, he needs to keep his cool and play basketball. I mentioned last year how hot headed he was and he is only getting worse. He is too important to get himself tossed out of games with technical fouls.
It’s do or die for L.A. They cannot afford to flame out again like last year. Last year was a total embarrassment for them. And for PG13. He needs to step up and shut some mouths. Kawhi is a free agent this off season, it’s hard to imagine him staying if the Clippers don’t advance to the Western Conference Finals.
I just don’t think the Mavs have enough depth or defensive intensity to give themselves a real chance at winning the series. I want to tip L.A. in 5, but out of respect for Luka I’ll go 6.