The 2015 NBA playoffs are about to begin, with the first round matchups all set. In the East, it’ll be the Hawks with the Nets, Cavaliers & Celtics, Bulls against the Bucks and Raptors vs Wizards. In the West, it’s the Warriors & Pelicans, Rockets vs Mavericks, Clippers against the Spurs and the Grizzlies facing the Blazers.
(1) Atlanta Hawks vs. (8) Brooklyn Nets
Season series: Hawks win all four games. Only one of them didn’t end with a double digit margin.
Leading scorers: Paul Millsap averaging 16.7 points for the Hawks; Brook Lopez with 17.2 per game for the Nets.
Stats worth mentioning: The Atlanta Hawks have a top 5 offense and top 10 defense. The Nets? They give up more than 108 points per 100 possessions, 23rd in the NBA.
(1) Golden State Warriors vs. (8) New Orleans Pelicans
Season series: Warriors win three out of four. Pelicans take the last one, 103-100, which was what took them up to 8th in the West, eventually clinching the playoff spot.
Leading scorers: Stephen Curry with 23.8 points per game for the Warriors, Davi scoring 24.4 a night for the Pelicans.
One more number: Warriors are number one in offensive efficiency and second in defensive efficiency. The Pelicans are top 10 offensively, bottom 10 defensively.
(2) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (7) Boston Celtics
Season series: Split it 2-2, but the Cavaliers were probably less than interested in winning the last two games.
Leading scorers: LeBron James leads the Cavs with 25.3 points per game, Avery Bradley is the Celtics’ leading scorer with 13.9 a night.
One more thing: LeBron James, both as a Cavalier or with the Miami Heat, has never lost in a first round series.
(2) Houston Rockets vs. (7) Dallas Mavericks
Season series: Rockets take 3-of-4 including the last one in Dallas.
Leading scorers: James Harden on the Rockets with 27.4 per game, Monta Ellis with 18.9 points a night for the Mavs.
One more thing: The Mavericks haven’t been past the first round since 2011. The Rockets haven’t won a playoff series since 2009.
(3) Chicago Bulls vs. (6) Milwaukee Bucks
Season series: Chicago Bulls win three of four.
Leading scorers: Jimmy Butler with 20 points a night for the Bulls, Khris Middleton averaging 13.4 per game for the Bucks.
On team rankings: The Bucks have one of the worst offenses in the league but also one of the best defenses. The Bulls are above average on both accounts, 10th in offensive efficiency and 12th in defensive efficiency.
(3) Los Angeles Clippers vs. (6) San Antonio Spurs
Season series: Split at two a piece.
Leading scorers: Blake Griffin leads the Clips with 21.9 per game, Kawhi Leonard with 16.5 per game is the Spurs’ leader.
Hot, hot, hot: The Clippers enter the postseason on a seven game winning streak and 14 of their last 15; the Spurs won 11 in a row before a final day loss to the Pelicans.
(4) Toronto Raptors vs. (5) Washington Wizards
Season series: Raptors win all three games.
Leading scorers: Raptors led by DeMar DeRozan with 20.1 points per game, Wizards by John Wall with 17.6.
Last year: The Wizards were a #5 seed last season as well, which didn’t stop them from beating the Chicago Bulls in the first round.
(4) Portland Trail Blazers vs. (5) Memphis Grizzlies
Season series: Grizzlies sweep the four games.
Leading scorers: Marc Gasol with 17.4 points per game for the Grizzlies, LaMarcus Aldridge with 23.4 points per game for the Blazers.
Worth mentioning: The Grizzlies are the #5 seed but they have home court advantage (better record). The Blazers are #4 because the NBA seeds division winners at 1-through-4 regardless of the record.