NBA Eastern Conference: Predicting the Winners of the First Round Matchups

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Apr 9, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) in the second half of a game against the Milwaukee Bucks at the American Airlines Arena. The Heat won 94-83. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

1. Miami Heat vs 8. Milwaukee Bucks

Unless LeBron James goes down, Dwyane Wade plays horribly and Chris Bosh is non-existent, the Heat are going to beat the Bucks.

Sure, the Bucks gave them a bit of trouble in December, when they demolished the Heat at home, but the Heat are easily the better team. Miami obliterated their competition to earn the top seed in the Eastern Conference, and they earned a matchup with the mediocre Bucks. Milwaukee can steal a game, but they aren’t going to complete the arduous task of winning four of seven games.

The 66-16 Heat lost four home games all season, and they went 26-15 on the road. Milwaukee went 17-24 on the road, finishing the year with six consecutive losses and a win over the resting Oklahoma City Thunder. Miami went 3-1 against the Bucks, and while the Bucks went 1-1 (with an overtime loss) in the first two games, Miami won the last two fairly easily.

James, Wade and Bosh will step up their game for the playoffs, and the Heat, who had a +7.8 point differential, will have little trouble with the Bucks, who had a -1.6 point differential. While Milwaukee went 21-20 at home and could take a game at home, this series will go no fewer than five games. Miami has too much star power and great chemistry, and they are hungry to win another championship.

And, as we know, that’s a great formula for success.

Prediction: Heat in five