The #NBA playoffs are set and that can only mean one thing ... the fun is about to start. The basketball fans of the world await this time of the year with impatience. Now, they can finally fasten their seat belts and watch the best teams and players in the world battle their hearts out in pursuit of the coveted Larry O'brein championship trophy. The reigning champions are the Cavaliers, but the #warriors are stronger than ever and will surely seek their revenge. But the NBA playoffs always gift us with surprises. The first round series are full of exciting teams, so who are you picking to advance?

Golden State Warriors vs Portland Trail Blazers

The Warriors seem more ready than anyone to start the playoffs.

Advertisements
Advertisements

They've proved to be the best team in the regular season. Durant is back, and Curry's flair seems to have returned as well.

The Trail Blazers' back court is surely one of the best in the league. Lillard and Mccollum create problems for any opposing team.

Prediction: Warriors advance. Nurkic's probable absence will further accentuate the team's lack of defense. Yes, ... and the Warriors are simply more talented.

San Antonio Spurs vs Memphis Grizzlies

The Spurs are back to their comfort zone yet again. They've excelled through the regular season without missing a beat, without trouble or an excessive effort apparently. Aldridge, Gasol, or Parker will have to step up their game and aid Leonard when it counts most.

The Grizzlies have regenerated and surprised a few this season. They are as powerful as always inside the paint and on the defensive end.

Advertisements

However, their outside shooting this season has been able to hurt opposing teams just as much.

Prediction: Spurs advance. The Grizzlies are a scrappy team. However, come playoff time, their lack of talent on the offensive end will hurt them especially against a Spurs team that enjoys exploiting weaknesses.

Houston Rockets vs Oklahoma City Thunder

The Rockets are the surprise of the season. D'Antoni has revitalized the team as well as the star player. Harden is scoring and dishing out assists at will, and the team's perimeter shooting has been remarkable.

The Thunder have also made some unexpected noise this season. Led by a monster named Russell Westbrook, the team will look to continue to shock the NBA with its hard work, energy, and determination to win on any given night.

Prediction: Rockets advance. Westbrook will not be able to do it all on his own. Chasing triple-doubles all season long will finally take a toll on him as well as on a supporting cast that has not been able to build any significant confidence.

Advertisements

Westbrook will score at will against a 'D'Antoni system' that rarely shows signs of any 'D'. However, the Rockets have more talent in their first and second units and will outscore the Thunder.

Los Angeles Clippers vs Utah Jazz

The Clippers have been up and down this season. Their inconsistency may be attributed to the number of injuries they've sustained. However, when healthy, they have proven they can compete against the best.

The Jazz have been a nice surprise in the Western Conference. They have also been hit by injuries all season long. However, their defense has always been there, in great part thanks to Gobert.

Prediction: Clippers advance. Hayward has emerged as an All Star, and players like Hill and Gobert can be impressive in any game. However, the Clippers' big three, Paul, Griffin, and Jordan are simply more experienced and polished players. Jordan and Gobert may neutralize each other.

Boston Celtics vs Chicago Bulls

The fact that the Cavaliers are not atop the Eastern Conference once again is a surprise, and the reason behind this surprise is the play of the Boston Celtics. The Celtics have announced their return as an elite team. In addition, the captivating play of the grandiosely tiny Isiah Thomas dazzles every opponent.

The Chicago Bulls are a mysterious case. They entered the season with higher aspirations; however, internal conflicts, lack of leadership form the coach, and an incompatible roster made it impossible to achieve more.

Prediction: Celtics advance. Jimmy Butler is a formidable player, and so is Wade if healthy. But the rest of the team is as inconsistent as it gets. The Celtics will have an easy road to the second round.

Cleveland Cavaliers vs Indiana Pacers

The reigning NBA champions have surprising lost more games this season than initially presumed. However, it seems like when the Cavaliers need to step up a gear they can do so without a problem. Every team in the east is weaker than them on paper, and has been for some time.

The Pacers willed themselves into the playoffs with an improved play lately. Teague and Turner will have to step up their play considerably if they want to give their team a chance. Paul George is a superstar but that might not be enough.

Prediction: Cavaliers advance. While George might create some problems to a hesitant Cavs defense, Lebron will make sure to bring everyone on the same page. Their defense will eventually 'click' and give no option for the opponent to react.

Toronto Raptors vs Milwaukee Bucks

Kyle Lowry is back with Raptors and the team's confidence is back as well. The additions of Ibaka and Tucker strengthens them defensively. The team's willingness to trust each other and share the ball in critical moments of the game will tell us how far they can go.

On the other hand, the Bucks will go as far as the 'Greek freak' can take them. The problem is he is young and inexperienced, and his team is not quite an abundance of talent. Kidd's inability to trust his front court players all season long is sufficient proof.

Prediction: Raptors advance. The Raptors do own many offensive weapons and the Bucks' defense will not be able to stop them. On the other end of the floor, Giannis will not be able to drive to the basket with ease as Valanciunas and Ibaka will be waiting for him.

Washington Wizards vs Atlanta Hawks

It is difficult to measure how good the Wizards really are. At times they seem to be the Cavaliers' greatest threat in the east. They have firepower in every position on the floor, and John Wall has firmly emerged as a superstar and leader this season. However, they have not played their best basketball as of late.

The Hawks might have been taken for dead before the start of the season or after the Korver trade, but they have proved to be a solid team in their conference yet again. Their play of late has taken many by surprise, including their recent wins against the Cavaliers.

Prediction: Hawks advance. The inconsistent play of the Wizards will not be able to be concealed come playoff time. The Hawks have found their groove at the right moment. Howard can still play defense, making it harder for Gortat to have his classic impact off the pick and roll game with Wall. Hardaway has emerged as an explosive offensive player off Atlanta's bench, while the potency of Washington's bench remains questionable. In addition, Millsap will be a nightmare matchup for Markieff Morris. #Cleveland Cavaliers