The first round of the NBA Playoffs are over without a single series going to seven games, though that does not mean there wasn’t plenty of excitement to be had. Even in the quickliest-won series, from Boston and Chicago, there were still games right at the beginning that were could-go-either-way nailbiters. The most predicted didn’t happen, but one very unpredictable one did. Fully Reconditioned takes a look back at our first round predictions in the West and East, seeing which made the grade and which surely did not, then moves forward with more Fully Reconditioned predictions for the second round, beginning today, only two days after the final game of the first round.
Grading the First Round – The Western Conference
(1) San Antonio Spurs vs. (8) Memphis Grizzlies
Prediction: Spurs in 6
Actual Result: Grizzlies in 6
The Grizzlies took this one home, and Manu Ginobili’s injury had nothing to do with it. He may have missed the first game, a Griz win, but he was the Spurs’ best player throughout the rest of the series, showing how wonderful a player he can be when not acting like a string-cut marionette every time anyone came near him. His diving became even more ridiculous than usual, which is just one of the reasons it’s great that the Grizzlies upset the top-seeded Spurs. Zach Randolph has proven himself a superstar in the clutch, and the Grizzlies are a fun, hard-working team to watch. They were too young and hungry for the Spurs, and Fully Reconditioned this prediction.
(2) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (7) New Orleans Hornets
Prediction: Lakers in 5
Actual Result: Lakers in 6
Though the Lakers won in six, they played poorly enough, lethargically enough, to cause fans to worry. Until they manned up and took care of business and proved that the only people who change positions more than pornstars aren’t politicians—they’re sportswriters.
(3) Dallas Mavericks vs. (6) Portland Trail Blazers
Prediction: Blazers in 7
Actual Result: Mavericks in 6
Another wrong prediction, as the Mavs took care of business, even after a spectacular comeback off-the-bench performance from Brandon Roy that seemed to give the Blazers the momentum coming out of the fourth game. Dallas took care of business at home, though, and Dirk Nowitzki continues to remind those who forget (note the prediction above) that he’s one of the league’s top five players.
(4) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (5) Denver Nuggets
Prediction: Thunder in 6
Actual Result: Thunder in 5
The Nuggets put up a fight, and there was a bit of an alpha-dog struggle between Westbrook and Durant as to whose team the Thunder might be, but the right answers came out of this first round series. The Thunder won handily and it’s Durant’s team.
Western Conference Average Grade: C
Grading the First Round – The Eastern Conference
(1) Chicago Bulls vs. (8) Indiana Pacers
Prediction: Bulls in 4
Actual Result: Bulls in 5
The Pacers put up a fight, forcing Derrick Rose to take over in the final minutes to tilt the series early on in the Bulls’ favor. More sportswriter overreactions and guess what, the Bulls are in the second round, with two games to spare.
(2) Miami Heat vs. (7) Philadelphia 76ers
Prediction: Heat in 5
Actual Result: Heat in 5
This series went exactly as predicted. The only problem for the Heat was in the only game that needed a last-second shot, the question of who on the team should take that shot (EVERYONE IT SHOULD BE WADE OKAY) still an albatross around the necks of the Big Three and change. They took care of business against a team that was simply overmatched talent-wise.
(3) Boston Celtics vs. (6) New York Knicks
Prediction: Celtics in 7
Actual Result: Celtics in 4
The Knicks did not put up much of a fight after the first two games, where they were in it until the end, in one losing because of Carmelo Anthony (or at least having their end-of-game chances ruined by his poor shot selection), the other only being in the game because of Anthony’s legendary performance, which should have included a game-winning assist on this play.
After that, the Celtics simply wiped the floor with those who bock knickers, and were able to rest their weary bones while laughing at another wrong-headed Fully Reconditioned prediction. Because, of course, they care.
(4) Orlando Magic vs. (5) Atlanta Hawks
Prediction: Hawks in 7
Actual Result: Hawks in 6
The number of games was wrong, but only because the Magic were even more like the Magic than predicted. Dwight Howard exploded for some Wilt Chamberlain-like numbers, but the team around him wasn’t good enough to beat a team with a plan. Which the Hawks happened to be, at least this time around.
Eastern Conference Average Grade: B+
Overall Average Grade: B-
Round 2 Predictions – Western Conference
(2) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (3) Dallas Mavericks
The Lakers played a little worse than expected, and the Mavs played better than expected in the first round. Still, though, this is the Lakers and Mavericks. Kobe wants another ring, and he’s going to will the rest of the team to help him get it if it kills him. He may not get what he wants, but the Mavs aren’t going to be the team to stop him.
Prediction: Lakers in 7
(4) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (8) Memphis Grizzlies
Can the Grizzlies keep up their stellar play in the second round? The answer is a resounding “yes,” but it still won’t be enough to beat the Thunder, who are the same sort of young, energetic, hungry bunch, just a little more advanced in their progression. Next year, though, if they can keep the team together, the Grizzlies will be in the Thunder’s current place in the conversation, the upstart team that might be able to take it all.
Prediction: Thunder in 6
Round 2 Predictions – Eastern Conference
(1) Chicago Bulls vs. (5) Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks had a great plan to stop a team with one dimension, and executed it well. Even though Dwight Howard got his points, there wasn’t anything else that the Magic could really do. The Bulls are just as reliant on one player (for all the talk of Noah and Deng, though they do what they do well, the Bulls live and die with Derrick Rose), but the problem for the Hawks is that Derrick Rose himself has many more dimensions than the entire Magic team did. He’ll get his teammates involved from the point if need be, he’ll shoot if need be, and he’ll definitely drive the lane all over everybody. He wants it more than anyone (except maybe Kobe) and the Hawks aren’t gonna be able to handle it.
Prediction: Bulls in 6
(2) Miami Heat vs. (3) Boston Celtics
The Heat may have home court advantage, but what does that really mean when the fans show up even later than the third-full crowd of a Dodger game? Everything comes down to this series for the Big Three, but they’re facing a Big Four who, even though they’re old (except for Rondo), still have it in them to spank the “younger brothers” one more time.
Prediction: Boston in 6
Of the so-called marquee teams in the league, the Spurs and the Magic are gone, but everyone else is left, and this round should see the play become even more intense. Will the Fully Reconditioned predictions hold up a little better this time? Probably not, but worth a shot.