2021 NBA Playoffs Predictions Round 1 Preview & Free Picks
We have officially made it to the postseason in the NBA, and the first-round matchups have been locked into place. Here we will be going over each series on both conferences for this opening round of action, including our 2021 NBA Playoffs predictions and picks as to which team will come out on top and advance.
2021 NBA Playoffs Predictions & game Previews
Let’s kick this off on the Eastern Conference before moving onto the West.
Washington Wizards @ Philadelphia 76ers
This matchup is bound to be an exciting one as the Washington Wizards were able to barely squeeze their way into the postseason by defeating the Indiana Pacers in the play-in tournament.
Washington had a chance to move up to that seventh seed but lost to the Boston Celtics. They come into this series with a star duo of Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook, along with a number of solid and young role players that should help them tremendously.
However, because they are so low in the Eastern Conference, they are matched with arguably the best team in the league right now.
The 76ers were able to have a terrific offseason, changing a ton of their staff and signing perfect role players to complement their stars. Joel Embiid has played like an MVP all year long; Ben Simmons has been in the conversation to win the Defensive Player of the Year award and Tobias Harris has been excellent in clutch situations for the majority of the year. That isn’t even mentioning Seth Curry and Danny Green, two knockdowns three-point shooters to space the floor out and provide depth.
Pick: Philadelphia 76ersGet NBA Odds
Atlanta Hawks @ New York Knicks
This series could honestly be the most entertaining of the first round and for a few great reasons.
For one, it has been years and years since NBA fans have been able to witness the New York Knicks in the postseason, making for a ton of exciting moments. They have a very young and hungry roster that went a complete overhaul in the offseason.
Julius Randle has led them on the court, paving the way to possibly win the Most Improved Player award at the end of the year.
RJ Barrett and Derrick Rose have each been crucial to this team in their own way as well. New York has been arguably the best defensive team in the league also which should make things interesting against such a talented offense like the Atlanta Hawks have.
Atlanta is led by Trae Young, who has had yet another standout season for his squad.
Clint Capela has had a resurgence of his own in the city of Atlanta, backing up Young’s terrible defensive skills by providing a case for Defensive Player of the Year.
Both of these teams match up against one another very well and have already played in a few very close matchups throughout this regular season.
I could see either of these teams walking away victorious, but it will have to take six or seven games in order to decide that.
Pick: New York KnicksGet NBA Odds
Boston Celtics @ Brooklyn Nets
This should be the one series out in the Eastern Conference that shouldn’t be close at all.
They also have one of the worst frontcourts in the entire league and have relied upon Jayson Tatum to carry them the whole year. Even their head coach Brad Stevens came out and said that he doesn’t think anybody will be eliminating the Nets from the playoffs this year.
Then they picked up Blake Griffin in the buyout market to further improve their roster.
Even their role players have overachieved, guys like Jeff Green, Nicolas Claxton and Bruce Brown have all been great for the Nets and make them even harder to stop.
The only way possible that the Celtics are able to win this series is if all three of those stars aren’t able to get themselves on the court.
Boston is just limping their way into this series and they match up horrifically against the Nets, while Brooklyn has the most talented roster in the league and the second-best record out East despite barely playing with a healthy roster.
Pick: Brooklyn NetsGet NBA Odds
Miami Heat @ Milwaukee Bucks
Here we have a rematch between two teams that played each other in the postseason last year in the NBA Bubble.
Just a year removed from making the NBA Finals and taking the Los Angeles Lakers to six games, the Heat struggled for the majority of the year. They only finished with the sixth seed in the conference and had a ton of players have trouble playing consistently.
They did end up fixing a lot of issues down the stretch to get out of the play-in tournament though and do still have a load of talent with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo leading the charge.
As for the Bucks, they also got better as the season has progressed, but they took a nice jump in the offseason.
They found a way to grab Jrue Holiday from the New Orleans Pelicans to give them a guard capable of defending any position while also giving them a new facilitator to take pressure off of Gianni Antetokounmpo.
Pick: Milwaukee BucksGet NBA Odds
Memphis Grizzlies @ Utah Jazz
Memphis had a lot of work to do just to get themselves into the eighth seed.
They were able to win both games in the play-in tournament, including an overtime win over the Golden State Warriors. They are coming into this series with the youngest roster to make the postseason in about a decade and are led by Ja Morant.
Morant and Valanciunas have formed quite the formidable duo on this roster and have given the rest of the team more confidence moving forward.
They have excellent depth and chemistry that sets them apart from the rest of the league and even have more playoff experience.
The potential Defensive Player of the Year in Rudy Gobert, a stellar backcourt with Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell and two Sixth Man of the Year candidates in Jordan Clarkson and Joe Ingles tell you all you need to know about this team.
Utah is going to come out of the gates strong here and should be able to wrap this series up rather quickly.
Pick: Utah JazzGet NBA Odds
Dallas Mavericks @ Los Angeles Clippers
This matchup happens to be yet another rematch from last years playoffs as the Los Angeles Clippers took down the Dallas Mavericks in six games last year.
Dallas was able to end the year on a hot streak despite a rough start to the year. They have a great duo in Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, but their depth has been shaky to say the least.
They also picked up Serge Ibaka and Rajon Rondo since the last time they played and should be more prepared to handle the excellence of Doncic here.
Pick: Los Angeles ClippersGet NBA Odds
Los Angeles Lakers @ Phoenix Suns
This is another series with the potential to be the best in the first round.
This was probably the worst matchup that the Phoenix Suns could have gotten in the first round. They were a fantastic team all year and were vastly improved due to the pickup of Chris Paul in the offseason.
The Suns don’t have much playoff experience outside of Paul though and were bound to struggle in the opening round, the hopes were that they would play a low seed and get those jitters out of the way early.
They also happen to be fully healthy for the first time all season, with LeBron James and Anthony Davis both returning from their injuries.
This series is probably the most unpredictable out of the bunch as both teams are very talented overall.
Pick: Los Angeles LakersGet NBA Odds
Portland Trail Blazers @ Denver Nuggets
These two teams met in the postseason two years ago with the Portland Trail Blazers winning in seven games.
This year should be a lot different for either team though. The Denver Nuggets were one of the best teams in the regular season but took a massive hit a few weeks ago when their starting point guard Jamal Murray tore his ACL.
This leaves them with little depth and star power outside of their potential MVP Nikola Jokic.
Meanwhile, the Trail Blazers have a star backcourt with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum and even added Norman Powell.
It should also be worth mentioning that Jusuf Nurkic is back and healthy once more and he wasn’t during this series two years ago.
Pick: Portland Trail BlazersGet NBA Odds
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