Game 1, Saturday, April 18, 9:30 AM PST
Washington Wizards Vs Toronto Raptors
Air Canada Centre, Toronto Canada
The Payback – James Brown
When the speedy John Wall and the Washington Wizards (46-36) take the court today against the Toronto Raptors (49-33), they will be undoubtedly seeking some get back. The Raptors owned the Wizards during the regular season, sweeping them 3-0, and no doubt have the psychological advantage, but expect Wall’s stealth ability to penetrate and finish at the rim to be the difference maker in this series. One of the Wizard’s regular season losses to the Raptors was sans Wall’s backcourt counterpart Bradley Beal, who is now healthy and ready to go; and too count on the veteran leadership of former NBA Finals MVP Paul Pierce to negate the regular season statistics and level the playing field. Toronto is led by All Star point guard Kyle Lowry. Raptor highflyers DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross both like to run, thus this series will be akin to a track meet, and whichever backcourt performs best will win. I’m picking the Wizards to get their revenge in 5.
Game 1, Saturday, April 18, 12:30 PM PST, Oracle Arena, Oakland, California
All Eyez On Me – 2Pac & Syke
All eyes have been on the Golden State Warriors (67-15) this season, and for good reason. The Warriors posted the league’s best record. Anchored by sharp shooters Steph Curry and Klay Thompson Golden State opens their ring chase at home against the New Orleans Pelicans (45-37), and are expected to make short order of the birds. Joining Curry and Thompson aka, “the Splash Brothers,” who combined for 63 points against the Pelicans Dec. 4th, are Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, (off the bench), and defensive candidate of the year the edgy Draymond Green. All can shoot, drive, and score the basketball. The Pelicans are led by 2nd year man Anthony Davis, who has had an MVP type season, averaging 20 points, 10 rebounds plus two blocked shots per game. Davis will have to replicate those numbers to give his club an even remote chance of winning this series. If perimeter players Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday, and Eric Gordon can consistently convert those wide open jumpers they’ll get while the top-ranked Warrior defense is doubling Davis in the paint, New Orleans might succeed at keeping this series competitive. If you look away, you might miss this one, #sweepwatch.
Game 1, Saturday April 18, 4 PM PST, United Center, Chicago, Illinois
Looks Like We Made It – Barry Manilow
At the beginning of the season no one had the Milwaukee Bucks(50-32) even making the playoffs. Don’t look now, but they are here, and seeded sixth no less. The Bucks face off against the Chicago Bulls(50-32) Saturday at 4 pm in the “Chi.” Head coach Jason Kidd and the Bucks could be content with the accomplishment and rest on their laurels, but don’t count on it; for it seems they have adopted the feisty, competitive spirit exhibited by coach Kidd during his NBA playing days; they feel like they belong. When the Bucks lost rookie sensation Jabari Parker to an ACL injury, Brandon Knight, reigning rookie of the year Michael Carter-Williams, and Khris Middleton jived around the “Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo to gain a post season berth. To reach the second round, the Bucks must go through Chicago, and although the Bulls’ talented point guard Derrick Rose is not 100 percent, A Rose Is Still a Rose – Aretha Franklin . The Bucks match up well against Rose’s supporting cast: skilled big men Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah, and Most Improved contender Jimmy Butler, but just because they made the playoffs, don’t expect a miracle. Bulls in 5.
Game 1,Saturday,April 18, 6:30 PM PST, Toyota Center, Houston, Texas
Bad Blood – Taylor Swift
There is no love loss between the Dallas Mavericks(50-32) and the Houston Rockets(56-26), and the two Texas squads square off this evening at Houston’s Toyota Center. Houston is led by the aggressive guard play of James Harden, who has carried the Rockets all season, and is one of the front runners in the MVP race. Former Rocket Chandler Parsons is now a Maverick, and former Maverick Jason Terry is sporting a Rocket uniform these days. Both teams lobbied for Dwight Howard in the summer of 2013, with Houston winning out; throw in a snide comment here and there from both camps, and you’ve got a bonafide rivalry. Former Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki leads the Mavericks, and newly acquired Rajon Rondo might slow Harden, but he wont stop “the bearded one,” with Howard healthy Dallas might draw first blood, but Houston will win the battle. Rockets in 6.