Here we go, the NBA Playoffs are upon us! Playoff basketball games are awesome to attend, the crowd atmosphere is taken to another level and the players play with a certain intensity that isn’t seen during the regular season. In my first year out of college in 2008, I started working for the Atlanta Hawks in a ticket sales role. At this point in time it was when the Hawks had finally turned the corner in making the playoffs after an eight year drought. They were the eight seed in the Eastern Conference and faced the one seed and future NBA Champion Boston Celtics with their “Big Three” of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. The Hawks gave the Celtics everything they could handle in the first round as the series went the full seven games. Although the Hawks didn’t win the series, the home games at Philips Arena were electric and it was a great time to be a part of something special that early in my career. Joe Johnson had a memorable Game 4 with 32 points, including 20 scored in the fourth quarter to tie the series at 2-2. Check out the highlights in the video below from that game, Johnson was unguardable.
I’ll be providing a preview of the matchups along with some interesting links to check out and will show the first round picks from my group of friends, The Kitchen. This will be setup similar to the recent Game-Time Decision post for the Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round Predictions. Here’s a link to the full schedule of NBA first round games, which lead off with Raptors vs. Pacers tipping off at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. SI’s Andrew Sharp recently posted a nice article with the eight most interesting players in the NBA Playoffs, of course the soon to be repeat MVP Stephen Curry had to be included. ESPN has an interesting article that just came out where their NBA writers explain what would be considered a success for each team in the first round. Last one I’ll pass along before posting The Kitchen predictions is this Jeremy Woo article from SI where he ranks the entertainment value of the first round matchups. I tend to agree with Jeremy, the Clippers (4) vs. Blazers (5) series should be really fun to watch with a great point guard matchup between two of the best in the game with Chris Paul and Damian Lillard.