Don't see Indiana sweeping Atlanta. That series stands to probably go six, though a tough five is possible (seven is an outside possibility. Be really surprised if Atlanta won (how funny is it that the edgy "Pacers are in trouble given their post All-Star break slide..." folks don't take into account Atlanta was quite literally the worst team in the NBA short of Philadelphia during that stretch? They were losing 10 out of every 11 games for about three months), but they provide unique matchup issues that is going to make it difficult for the Pacers to put them away.
Curious to see Bulls/Wizards. I think I'll take Bulls in 6, but Nene will be a huge swing if he's good to go. Big games from Wall/Beal are going to make things very difficult for the Bulls unless D.J. Augustin turns into Nate Robinson 2.0.
Raptors/Nets will either be Raptors in 7 or Nets in 6. It depends entirely on how quickly the Raptors adjust to the postseason. I think they'll lose one of the first two at home, but if they can even it up with a win in Brooklyn in Game 3 or 4, Raptors will win it. Nets have to hold home court to win the series, and they're the Nets, so I don't think they will, so I'm leaning Raptors in 7.
Heat will win in 4, maybe 5 if Al Jefferson goes for 50. Bobcats are really good defensively, but they'd be the worst shooting team from everywhere on the floor in the playoffs if the Bulls didn't have that on lock down. Even if Jefferson has a huge series, Miami shouldn't have much trouble taking away their other options or simply overwhelming their defense.
Spurs in 5. Could go longer if Dirk goes 2011 and Monta goes big, but that's about all I see.
Rockets/Blazers I have no idea what is going to happen. No one's going to play defense so it's up to who hits more shots. I trust Lillard to pull me out with a big shot more than Harden, assuming the experience on Houston's roster doesn't play much of a factor, I might have to go with Portland.
Clippers in 7. I don't much think the Clippers are a real threat or anything, but Warriors without Bogut is a tough blow that is going to make it incredibly difficult for them to come out with the series, though they'll win two or three simply doing what they do.
Thunder in 6. Man, I want Memphis to win this series, but I do have a difficult time going against Durant/Westbrook in a first round series. Don't feel confident with this one, but I'm excited about it.
Sad news... Sideline reports won't be the same without his horrible, technicolor suits
Bynum out of the 1st round and I'm sure for his career. That dude will need a medical miracle to keep on playing.
The only tough series I see are in the west. Based on the bulls playoff experience and coaching experience\ability, i can see the bulls sweeping the wiz easy. Same with Nets over toronto but probably not in a sweep. All the fun\action will be in the west.... looking forward to it kicking off tomorrow morning!!! A full weekend of bball!! ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh yahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
Hibbs righting a wrong..... does it matter though? and why is he apologizing??
Roy Hibbert is moving forward after calling out his Indiana Pacers teammates in late March, saying Friday it "wasn't the best thing to do" and that he's learned from the experience.
"You know, I think that I should've kept my frustrations to myself or just in the locker room," Hibbert said on "ESPN First Take."
"I will admit that it wasn't the best thing to do. I'll learn from that, and I was wrong. There are better ways to handle that than going to the media. All in all, I learned. I talked to my teammates; they talked to me. I'm willing to accept the criticism. It wasn't the best thing to do."
The worst post-All-Star winning percentages of teams that entered the break with a .700 win percentage (of the 137, only four were worse than Indiana):Season Team Pct.
*Failed to make conference finals
After a 91-78 loss to the Washington Wizards on March 28, Hibbert had some choice words for his teammates.
"Some selfish dudes in here," the center told reporters. "Some selfish dudes. I'm tired of talking about it. We've been talking about it for a month."
Hibbert was criticized for what he said and when he said it -- the Pacers have struggled mightily after the All-Star break. Earlier this week Dan Dakich, an ESPN basketball analyst who has a talk show on ESPN 1070 The Fan in Indianapolis, questioned Hibbert's toughness.
"He has a misguided version of what toughness is. Toughness is going on the block and whopping up on somebody," Dakich said during an ESPN Radio appearance. "But I will say this, and this was a big deal here: When Greg Oden came in here with Miami -- and Greg Oden is an Indianapolis kid -- he was put on Miami to play Hibbert. Hibbert just kicked the living you-know-what out of him in the first quarter and eliminated the Greg Oden experiment.
"It's there, but with Roy, he has a misguided sense of who he is after being an All-Star."
Although they secured the Eastern Conference's top seed, the Pacers' struggles were evident over the season's final month, as they went 10-12 in their final 22 games.
The team's frustration reached a high point in a 107-88 home loss to the Atlanta Hawks on April 6, a contest in which coach Frank Vogel benched all five starters at one point. Hibbert, who appeared to be disinterested on the bench, didn't play in the second half in that game -- a move Vogel said was made for rest purposes.
No other player may be struggling more than Hibbert, who has scored a total of nine points on 3-of-28 shooting over his past four games.
The Pacers open the playoffs at home against the Hawks on Saturday.