Anticipation first started with the LeBron James Decision in July, followed by the Lakers trying to repeat and the Celtics trying to complete some unfinished business. The unexpected Bulls appearing out of nowhere with MVP Derrick Rose adds an interesting element as well.
It seems like there are a lot of very intriguing matchups this year as well, which adds even more excitement. Starting with the west, I see the Spurs and Lakers moving on with not too much of a problem in the first round.
The Thunder vs. Nuggets matchup has potential to be an extremely entertaining and competitive series. I have heard a lot of people talk about the Thunder being the â€œsleeperâ€ team in the west after acquiring Perkins, and the Nuggets have been going under the radar after losing their so-called â€œsuperstarâ€ in Carmelo Anthony.
I feel the Nuggets have improved since making the trade and have a lot of talent, which make them a dangerous team. However, I am not set on there defense or consistency, so I would definitely have to give the Thunder a little bit of the edge.
The other matchup in the west that might catch some fansâ€™ attention is the 3-6 matchup between the Mavericks and the Blazers.
The Mavericks seem to be in a similar position every year. Great regular season, and then they blow it in the playoffs.
I donâ€™t think they are going to win it all, but I think they are talented and determined enough to be able to make it past the Blazers. With the Blazersâ€™ acquisition of Gerald Wallace, nobody should take them too lightly.
Wallace, to go along with Aldridge and Roy, make the Blazers a team that might have some fans choosing the upset in this matchup.
Now for the East.
I think the Bulls and Heat wont have too big of a problem advancing in the first round this year. I could see the Pacers pulling off one, and maybe even two, games on the Bulls, but even that is pretty unlikely. And I donâ€™t see the Sixers being able to stop LeBron and Wade.
Some probably would think that the No. 4 seed Magic vs. the No. 5 seed Hawks has the potential to be a competitive series. I however think the Magic are going to win this fairly easily.
I think there is a big drop off from the top four seeds to the bottom four. I realize that the Hawks have a lot of solid players and good athleticism, but I donâ€™t see their offense keeping up with the Magic in this one.
The Magic are great on defense and have too much talent on offense for the Hawks to handle. Especially with Horford being an undersized center trying to match up against Dwight Howard.
With the top defense in the Celtics going up against the number two offense in the Knicks, this has the ingredients to be the most anticipated matchup of the first round. This matchup is going to come down to the Celtics keeping the Knicksâ€™ offense in check and being able to take advantage of their sketchy defense in order to hold off being upset.
The question for the Knicks is, will they be able to play good defense throughout the whole series? With the Celtics having a little slump at the end of the regular season, it will be really interesting to see if they will be able to turn it around for the playoffs, or will it be the Knicks. Everyone is curious to see if they can break through with their talent and wear down the older Celtics to come away with the upset.