The NFL released the highly anticipated 2013-14 regular season schedule last night. The Stack is very excited about that, but we'll have plenty of time to discuss and analyze that in the days and weeks to come. No today is all about previewing the upcoming NBA playoffs so let's take a look and see what's in "the stack" for today, Friday, April 19:
NBA Eastern Conference playoffs
#1 Miami Heat vs. # 8 Milwaukee Bucks
Sorry, in the eastern conference there isn't going to be a ton of analysis in some of these series. While the Bucks have played the Heat tough the last couple of years, they don't stand a chance in a seven game series. LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade will all play and the Heat will roll.
Prediction: Heat in 5
Game 1 @ Heat: Sunday, April 21 7:00 PM ET TNT
Game 2: @ Heat: Tuesday, April 23 7:30 PM ET NBATV
Game 3: @ Bucks: Thursday, April 25 7:00 PM ET TNT
Game 4: @ Bucks: Sunday, April 28 3:30 PM ET ABC
*Game 5: @ Heat: Tuesday, April 30
*Game 6: @ Bucks: Thursday, May 2
*Game 7: @ Heat: Saturday, May 4
*= if necessary
#2 New York Knicks vs. #7 Boston Celtics
This has the potential to be the best series of the first round of the NBA playoffs. Heck, it is the best. The Knicks have been playing red-hot basketball the last month or two, but the playoffs are always tricky for them. Carmelo Anthony was the NBA scoring leader during the regular season and I think he'll do enough to get the Knicks by the Celtics. We shouldn't doubt the Celtics. After all, they played well enough to get into the playoffs after Rajon Rondo suffered a torn ACL. Head coach Doc Rivers has done a masterful job with the team this year. But without Rondo, I just don't see how they can win four games in a series.
Prediction: Knicks in 6
Game 1 @ Knicks: Saturday, April 20 3:00 PM ET ABC
Game 2 @ Knicks: Tuesday, April 23 8:00 PM ET TNT
Game 3 @ Celtics: Friday, April 26 8:00 PM ET ESPN
Game 4 @ Celtics: Sunday, April 28 1:00 PM ET ABC
*Game 5 @ Knicks: Tuesday, April 30
*Game 6: @ Celtics: Friday, May 3
*Game 7: @ Knicks: Sunday, May 5
#3 Indiana Pacers vs. #6 Atlanta Hawks
The Pacers have been a little disappointing this year. The Hawks have talent, but never seem to play to their fullest potential. They may have tried to lose the last two games of the year to get the six seed and not have to face Miami until the conference finals. Shrewd move Atlanta. That's something the NBA has to figure out, tanking games. But that's for another time. I think the Pacers are the better team and will come out ahead, though they'll have to fight for it.
Prediction: Pacers in 6
Game 1 @ Pacers: Sunday, April 21 1:00 PM ET TNT
Game 2 @ Pacers: Wednesday, April 24 7:30 PM ET NBATV
Game 3 @ Hawks: Saturday, April 27 7:00 PM ET ESPN
Game 4 @ Hawks: Monday, April 29 TBD
*Game 5 @ Pacers: Wednesday, May 1
*Game 6 @ Hawks: Friday, May 3
*Game 7 @ Pacers: Sunday, May 5
#4 Brooklyn Nets vs #5 Chicago Bulls
Very intriguing series. The Nets really should have played better this year given that they have a couple of stars in Deron Williams and Joe Johnson. At times they've looked really good and then other times, eh, not so much. The Bulls have suffered through a lot of injuries this year, the most notable of them being Derrick Rose with his torn ACL. Highly doubt we'll see him in this series. The Bulls have trouble scoring. Without Rose, they could be in trouble in this series.
Pick: Nets in 7
Game 1 @ Nets: Saturday, April 20 8:00 PM ET ESPN
Game 2 @ Nets: Monday, April 22 8:00 PM ET TNT
Game 3 @ Bulls: Thursday, April 25 8:30 PM ET NBATV
Game 4 @ Bulls: Saturday, April 27 2:00 PM ET TNT
*Game 5 @ Nets: Monday, April 29
*Game 6 @ Bulls: Thursday, May 2
*Game 7 @ Nets: Saturday, May 4
When it is all said and done, I like the Miami Heat and New York Knicks to make it to the NBA Eastern Conference Finals where the Heat will move on in six or seven games. The series against the Knicks will be the toughest the Heat face in the playoffs.
Eastern Conference Champion: Miami Heat
NBA Western Conference playoffs
#1 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. #8 Houston Rockets
This series is interesting only because James Harden is facing his former team, the Thunder. The Thunder will eventually miss him in the playoffs, but not in this series. They are too talented a team to lose to the Rockets in a best of seven series.
Prediction: Thunder in 6
Game 1 @ Thunder: Sunday, April 21 9:30 PM ET TNT
Game 2 @ Thunder: Wednesday, April 24 7:00 PM ET TNT
Game 3 @ Rockets: Saturday, April 27 9:30 PM ET ESPN
Game 4 @ Rockets: Monday, April 29 TBD
*Game 5 @ Thunder: Wednesday, May 1
*Game 6 @ Rockets: Friday, May 3
*Game 7 @ Thunder: Sunday, May 5
#2 San Antonio Spurs vs. #7 Los Angeles Lakers
The Spurs lost three in a row to end the regular season. Last time they did that, they won the NBA championship. While that probably isn't going to happen this year, don't be alarmed by the Spurs play at the end of the regular season. They should be just fine for the playoffs, especially going against a Lakers team without their best player in Kobe Bryant. Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard will have to play out of their minds for the Lakers to win. Don't see that happening.
Prediction: Spurs in 5
Game 1 @ Spurs: Sunday, April 21 3:30 PM ET ABC
Game 2 @ Spurs: Wednesday, April 24 9:30 PM ET TNT
Game 3 @ Lakers: Friday, April 26 10:30 PM ET ESPN
Game 4 @ Lakers: Sunday, April 28 7:00 PM ET TNT
*Game 5 @ Spurs: Tuesday, April 30
*Game 6 @ Lakers: Thursday, May 2
*Game 7 @ Spurs: Saturday, May 4
#3 Denver Nuggets vs. #6 Golden State Warriors
This has the potential to be the most entertaining first round series. Both teams can score points in bunches. The Nuggets play at a very fast pace. Now they do have some injuries that they're dealing with and Steph Curry did set an NBA record for most three point shots attempted, but the Nuggest should still be able to get by.
Prediction: Nuggets in 7
Game 1 @ Nuggets: Saturday April 20 5:30 PM ET ESPN
Game 2 @ Nuggets: Tuesday April 23 10:30 PM ET TNT
Game 3 @ Warriors: Friday, April 26 10:30 PM ET ESPN2
Game 4 @ Warriors: Sunday, April 28 9:30 PM ET TNT
*Game 5 @ Nuggets: Tuesday, April 30
*Game 6 @ Warriors: Thursday, May 2
*Game 7 @ Nuggets: Saturday, May 4
#4 Los Angeles Clippers vs. #5 Memphis Grizzlies
Rematch of last year's terrific playoff series. While the Clippers have the star power, the Grizzlies have been one of the most pleasant surprises of the NBA season with after trading Rudy Gay. Marc Gasol has turned into the best big man in the country. Kind of a toss up series, but I think the Clippers are the better team.
Prediction: Clippers in 7
Game 1 @ Clippers: Saturday, April 20 10:30 PM ET ESPN
Game 2 @ Clippers: Monday, April 22 10:30 PM ET TNT
Game 3 @ Grizzlies: Thursday, April 25 9:30 PM ET TNT
Game 4 @ Grizzlies: Saturday, April 27 4:30 PM ET TNT
*Game 5 @ Clippers: Tuesday, April 30
*Game 6 @ Grizzlies: Friday, May 3
*Game 7 @ Clippers: Sunday, May 5
The Thunder are the best team in the western conference. If Denver didn't have injuries, they might be able to take the Thunder. They'll make it to the conference finals, but Oklahoma City will be the better team and win the series.
NBA Western Conference champions: Oklahoma City Thunder
So a rematch of last year's NBA Finals. Should be a good series, but if the Thunder weren't able to win last year with James Harden on the team, what makes anyone think they can beat Miami this year?
NBA champions: Miami Heat
Enjoy the playoffs everyone.
Coming up Monday: Reaction to top stories from the weekend in sports