NBA Playoffs: Potential First Round Upsets


Apr 14, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs center Tiago Splitter (22) is defended by Los Angeles Lakers forward Earl Clark (6) at the Staples Center. The Lakers defeated the Spurs 91-86. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA regular season has finally concluded, and the matchups are set for the first round of the playoffs.  Are there going to be upsets?

I’m glad you asked.  Though we can never be certain of anything in this life, we can always make lists.  Here’s mine for upset potential in the first round, from least likely to most likely.  And a five-seed beating a four-seed doesn’t count as an upset, so to the Clippers, the Grizzlies, the Nets, and the Bulls, sorry, but you are non-existent on this list, as far as we’re concerned.

6. (8) Milwaukee Bucks vs. (1) Miami Heat

Nope.  Not even a little bit.

5. (6) Atlanta Hawks vs. (3) Indiana Pacers

With all due respect to both of these organizations and their fans, I know nothing about these two teams.  There is nothing really that pops out from a marketing standpoint, and whoever wins is probably going to lose in the next round.

Neither are even remotely championship-caliber (I lied, I know that).  But is a Hawks upset really that remote?  I don’t know, I just put it here because I wanted to get it out of the way, which is how David Stern feels about this series.

4. (8) Houston Rockets vs. (1) Oklahoma City Thunder

The Rockets had a chance to avoid the Thunder, but they lost on the final night.  However, it made for a very poetic pairing, as James Harden a.k.a. THE BEARD takes on his old team.  Maybe a little bit of extra motivation for the former Sixth Man of the Year Award winner?  Sure, but unless this turns into a facial hair contest, the Thunder have Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and Houston does not.

3. (7) Boston Celtics vs. (2) New York Knicks

What we have here is just an awesome, old-school sounding matchup.  With the Knicks so high, Madison Square Garden is going to be rocking, and the Knicks showed that they can beat the Celtics during the regular season.  You just never want to count out guys like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.  Also, watch for Games 3 and 4 in Boston — emotions will be high from the recent events and they’ll be playing hated New York.  This matters.

2. (6) Golden State Warriors vs. (3) Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets have quietly snuck their way up to a three-seed.  George Karl is a fantastic coach, and the team was assembled very well.  What separates them from the truly elite is the lack of a no-questions-asked go-to player.  The Warriors have one of their own in NBA record-holder and three-point king Stephen Curry, and he may be the difference.

1. (7) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (2) San Antonio Spurs

This is the definitive NBA rivalry of the 2000s.  Both teams are old and ailing, but both have enough savvy to really make a run this year.  It’s completely unfair that one of its main characters will have to sit out what could be their last playoff battle of this era.  However, even with Kobe out, the Lakers have three high-caliber players, and Nash will have a little extra juice in him to take down the Spurs.  For all the troubles Los Angeles had this year, they get a clean slate starting this weekend.  And so does everyone else.