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The 2021 NBA Playoff Predictions – First Round

With only one genuine upset, somehow all of us did worse than tossing a coin.

David Ashman, Dan Kelly, Jesse Cotton: 4
Troy Goostrey, Jarrod Cotton: 2

Oh well, now on to the big boy games.

Western Conference

1 Utah Jazz v 8 Memphis Grizzlies

David Ashman: Gotta love the Griz young guys having a go. I think the Jazz will just have too many options to outlast them in a playoff series. Ja will go large but still it won’t be enough to stop The Stifle Tower and Spida of the Jazz. Jazz in 6

Dan Kelly: Having looked at their line-up minus Mitchell, I am surprised they managed to hang onto the number #1 seed, but should be too much for Memphis. Jazz in 5

Troy Goostrey: Well, surprised Memphis got here.  Had GSW in this one for sure and would expect Steph to have worked some magic once or twice to make it interesting.  Memphis might be out of their depth here.  Utah look awesome, even covering Spida being out quite well.  Morant, Jonas and co will sneak one, especially now JJJ is back.  But Jazz in 5

Jarrod Cotton: Memphis will gain a lot of experience from this but it ends for them this round. Jazz in 6

Jesse Cotton: The Jazz and Grizzlies, that’s a lot of double Zs. They should get Frank Beard and ZZ Top to be the half time entertainment. Gobert, like fellow Frenchman Zinedine Zidane, doesn’t have a lot of pizzazz, but just leaves opponents sitting there with their silly quizzical faces. The buzz is if the Grizzlies can solve the Spida puzzle and outdazzle them into a tizzy, then it might be uh oh razzamatazz. But instead he’ll sizzle, making them dizzy, and it’ll be the Jazz eating the celebratory pizzas in the jacuzzi. This one’s a fizzer. Zzz. Jazz in 5

“Yeah. Looking better still” – Mike Conley

2 Phoenix Suns v 7 Los Angeles Lakers

David Ashman: AD will break toe nail and LeBron will be too hung over from Space Jam 2 after party. Suns to win in a tough fought out contest that will start a new era in the West. Or the Lakers will just fire up and overrun the young Suns but not this time. Led by CP3, the Suns and Booker will need to fire for this series so I will go with the Suns in the last second shot to win the series in game 7. Nostradamus……. Suns in 7

Dan Kelly: A standard game 1 “feel out loss” for Lebron and then Lakers to take control. Not loving the lead into the playoffs for Lakers, we might need a couple of longer series to get the chemistry going. Lakers in 5

Troy Goostrey: Poor Chris Paul.  Gets another team to a solid finish and the reward, cop the defending champs in round 1!!  The Lakers with all their crew in uniform aren’t a 7 seed.  My prediction assumes all remain healthy as if the injury bug strikes, Phoenix advance.  But these two going straight up as is, Lakers in 7 in an epic.

Jarrod Cotton: AD will be all he can be in this one, Ayton will not. Lakers in 7

Jesse Cotton: A nightmare matchup for the Suns, with their weakness being the ability to guard big and/or strong players like LeBron and AD. Suns to win game 1 before falling in a bully ball hole losing the next 3 with Jack Nicholson looking on eating his chips. Lakers in 6

“I’m the best #23 the Lakers ever had” – Cedric Ceballos
“I’m the best #3 the Suns ever had” – Jared Dudley
“I’m headed to the HOF” – Robert Horry

3 Denver Nuggets v 6 Portland Trailblazers

David Ashman: I don’t know about this one. The Nuggets should win but without Jamal Murray, they won’t unfortunately. The Blazers backcourt will prevail and Melo will act all smug even though he couldn’t defend a blind turtle if he tried. Sorry Nuggets, close but no cigar. This series will be good for Porter Jr though as he has been a shining light this year so there will be some upside to this. But I see an upset here so Blazers will pip them at the post. Blazers in 6

Dan Kelly: Should be a great series that could go either way. Blazers have enough to advance and with a fit Nurkic/Kanter combo, I think they may have enough to wear down Jokic. Minus Murray, Blazers with a little too much firepower. Blazers in 7

Troy Goostrey: Like the Suns/Lakers series, it feels like we want these two playing a 15 game series!  It should be Legend … Wait for it .. Dary!!  Portland have all the tools to throw at Denver.  Nuggets missing Murray in this match up could really hurt.  Really really hurt.  They have Joker, league MVP (if not, there needs to be an inquiry).  Just how is Porter Jr going on D??  That could be the key – if he’s exposed and needs to sit, there’s a boil over on offer here.  I need to pick one upset in the 8 series, so here it goes.  Blazers in 7

Jarrod Cotton: Dame time and no Murray, Nuggets will squeeze out a win. Blazers in 5

Jesse Cotton: Really could go either way this one. Everyone knows about Dame in the playoffs, but for some reason Jokic and the Nuggets don’t get the same respect. Even after showing up to play every time they’ve been there. Which hasn’t been as often as you think. Murray is a big loss, but Jokic will show everyone, including Bill Walton, why he is the MVP and won’t be backed down.  Nuggets in 7

“Click I’m here…” – Carmelo Anthony

4 Los Angeles Clippers v 5 Dallas Mavericks

David Ashman: As much as I want Dallas to win and with Doncic having another great season, the Clippers will be too much in seven games. However, people wrote off Denver last year and see what they did buuuut, Dallas doesn’t have that x-factor like a Jamal Murray who can be unpredictable and explode with 50 points when you need it. Expect lots of posturing by Boy George and the Clippers crew. Clippers in 6

Dan Kelly: More hoping than anything, this one could easily be Clippers in 6. A series win against Clippers will take Luka up another notch and he owes them one for last season. Keeping Porzingis on the court this time around will be key. Mavericks in 6

Troy Goostrey: And yet another great matchup!  The buying a championship Clippers (as if we ever thought that would be written during the Sterling years!!) versus Luka and his sidekicks.  Luka will get his eventually but I just don’t like or trust his supporting cast in Dallas at the moment.  Kawhi, PG, Rondo, Serge, Morris, Batum…  It’s a long list of talent who will get it done 4 times, it will take 6 tries though.  Clippers in 6

Jarrod Cotton: Dallas has nothing to lose and the Clippers have everything to lose. Mavericks in 6

Jesse Cotton: Well, this is the matchup the Clippers wanted. Luka will win a couple of games on his own, but with two wing defenders to put on him, this is the Clippers’ series to lose. Unless of course they haven’t played enough time together. Or PG13 had too much coffee before the game. Or this isn’t a championship or bust season. Or the coach wasn’t using PG13 correctly. Clippers in 6

“I’m picking Mavs. No, wait, I’m staying with the Clippers. But at the end of the season, I’m going with the Mavs” – DeAndre Jordan
“You used that joke last year” – Lamar Odom

Eastern Conference

1 Philadelphia 76ers v 8 Washington Wizards

David Ashman: It will take a little bit of Gandalf the Grey magic to get the Wiz past the Sixers in this series. Westbrook, Beal and the Wiz have been great in the last two games but they will finally be overrun by the deep bench of the Sixers. Sixers in 4

Dan Kelly: I will give the Wizards a game where Beal or Russ goes nuts, but Philly could easily have this wrapped up in 4. Sixers in 5

Troy Goostrey: Very dangerous matchup for Philly.  Washington come in with some seriously good form late in the season.  However there is a reason they are the 8th seed.  If they don’t shock and awe Philly and steal a 2-0 lead, I can’t see them winning a 7 game series.  Philly simply have to many options.  And really, is Alex Len or Robin Lopez going to do anything with Embiid???  Sixers in 5

Jarrod Cotton: Philly’s Dee vs Washington’s no dee. Wizards will steal one game. Sixers in 5

Jesse Cotton: Joel Embiid vs Alex Len??? Hahahahahahahahaha. Hahaha. Hmm. Sixers in 4

“Block the Bol. Block block the Bol. Sing it Moses!” – Manute Bol
“Mumble mumble. Mum, mumble mumble” – Moses Malone

2 Brooklyn Nets v 7 Boston Celtics

David Ashman: The Celtics are the walking wounded and probably need a bit more help in the paint. They come up against the monster in the East, the Nets who have more star power than the Kardashians. I can’t believe I just compared the Nets to the Kardashians but hey, I hate both of them so there! Nets too talented with their big three or is it the big four or five? Anyway they’re too deep etc… so join the dots people. Nets in 4

Dan Kelly: Possibly 5 if they take the foot off the gas in one of the games in Boston, but easy series win for the Nets. Nets in 4

Troy Goostrey: Boston’s present for winning the 7/8 playin, here have the Nets with KD, Kyrie and Harden all back.  Even with Jaylen Brown this was a tough ask.  Without him, Tatum needs to go Wilt Chamberlain every night.  He won’t, C’s will get one in  Beantown along the way… Nets in 5

Jarrod Cotton: Tatum is a stud, Kemba is back and Timelord is playing out of this world. Nets in 4

Jesse Cotton: The Nets might have more star power than the Kardashians, but they don’t have an actual Kardashian like the Celtics do in Tristan Thompson. That won’t help them in this series though. Nets in 5

“Hey, I’m a Kardashian too!” – Kris Humphries

3 Milwaukee Bucks v 6 Miami Heat

David Ashman: The Greek Freak is ready to take it to the next level. Well the fans are ready anyway and he better deliver this season. This time he has more help with Holiday running the point and bringing some much needed defence to their backcourt. Jimmy and Bam will keep it close but I think Bucks will have too much at the end when it counts. Bucks in 5

Dan Kelly: I like the look of the Bucks this year, will be important for them to get game 1 and try to keep the Heat down and out early. Bucks in 6

Troy Goostrey: Now things get interesting.  We really get to see once and for all if the Jrue Holiday upgrade at the point is the missing link for Milwaukee.  The Heat shocked them in the second round last season, can they manage it again this time??  They can…but they won’t.  Holidays D will be a difference maker to last season and ensure Jimmy Buckets can’t just dominate.  Still, should be the series to watch.  Bucks in 7

Jarrod Cotton: Giannis and the Bucks will move on to next round but Miami won’t make it easy.  Bucks in 7

Jesse Cotton: How much pressure is on the Bucks here? Another loss to the Heat and coach Bud would be telling his story walking. I think it can’t be underestimated how much of an upgrade Holiday is over Bledsoe though, and the Heat last season peaked right at the right time to create the perfect storm. Bucks in 6

“The Heat need Jesus. Shuttleworth, that is” – Ray Allen

4 New York Knicks v 5 Atlanta Hawks

David Ashman: Do my eyes deceive me, the Knicks and Hawks in the East playoffs and not just that, they’re not the last two seeds in the East. This is a topsy turvy year for sure with these two teams in the playoffs. With that said I think the Hawks will click and get going with their run and gun game while the Knicks will get bogged down in typical coach Thibs defence first and struggle to score. Hawks young guys with not much experience will earn some respect with a win. Hawks in 7

Dan Kelly: Actually thinking the Knicks but picking the Hawks for Jesse. Toss a coin on this series. Hawks in 7

Troy Goostrey: What is going on.  Knicks in the playoffs, and as a 4 seed!  Randle has been awesome and the hiring of Thibs on the sideline a master stroke.  He’s getting more out of guys who have previously struggled.  On paper, the Hawks win this series.  But with Young their leader, perhaps the NY rotation of defensive guards is the worst matchup they could have asked for.  On the other end, Thibs will ensure Young’s sub par D is exposed.  Knicks in 6

Jarrod Cotton: This series goes the distance with the Knicks prevailing over the Hawks in seven games Knicks in 7

Jesse Cotton: What is with that logo New York, looks like they struck out in free agency again and had to sign Liberace. Anyway, it’s funny that one of these teams are going to stumble into the second round like Vlade stumbling into stardom. I think Trae Young might struggle in the playoffs when the whistles aren’t as cheaply available and defenses are a bit more locked in. On the other hand, Randle won’t have to worry about the Hawks defense with Collins and Gallo, so Knicks in 6 

“I’m going for the Knicks with my mate Thibs and my son Aust…what? waived?” – Doc Rivers
“….then boom I’m there” – Carmelo Anthony
*smiles* – Danilo Gallinari

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