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NBA playoff experts’ picks – Predicting Lakers-Nuggets, 76ers-Knicks and every first-round matchup

SportsNBA playoff experts' picks - Predicting Lakers-Nuggets, 76ers-Knicks and every first-round matchup


The NBA play-in tournament is complete, and the playoffs are set for the first round.

In the West, the Los Angeles Lakers and the New Orleans Pelicans captured the conference’s final two playoff spots, with L.A. setting up a rematch with the defending champion Denver Nuggets. New Orleans, meanwhile, hit their first-round matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder without Zion Williamson, who is out because of an injured left hamstring.

In the East, the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Miami Heat to clinch the No. 7 seed and will take on the New York Knicks in the first round. The Heat still grabbed the No. 8 seed but without Jimmy Butler after he suffered an MCL sprain in the loss in Philadelphia.

Who will advance to the next round? Our NBA experts are making their picks for all eight first-round matchups.

MORE: 16-team preview | Playoff news, schedules and results

Western Conference first round


New Orleans Pelicans (8) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (1)

Kendra Andrews: Thunder in 6

Jerry Bembry: Thunder in 6

Tim Bontemps: Thunder in 5

Israel Gutierrez: Thunder in 7

Chris Herring: Thunder in 5

Tim MacMahon: Thunder in 6

Bobby Marks: Thunder in 5

Dave McMenamin: Thunder in 6

Kevin Pelton: Thunder in 6

Jorge Sedano: Thunder in 6

Ramona Shelburne: Thunder in 7

André Snellings: Thunder in 5

Marc J. Spears: Thunder in 6

Ohm Youngmisuk: Thunder in 6


Final tally: Thunder 14, Pelicans 0

Kendra Andrews: Nuggets in 5

Jerry Bembry: Nuggets in 6

Tim Bontemps: Nuggets in 5

Israel Gutierrez: Nuggets in 6

Chris Herring: Nuggets in 5

Tim Legler: Nuggets in 6

Zach Lowe: Nuggets in 6

Tim MacMahon: Nuggets in 4

Bobby Marks: Nuggets in 6

Dave McMenamin: Nuggets in 6

Kevin Pelton: Nuggets in 5

Jorge Sedano: Nuggets in 6

Ramona Shelburne: Nuggets in 6

André Snellings: Nuggets in 7

Marc J. Spears: Nuggets in 6

Ohm Youngmisuk: Nuggets in 6


Final tally: Nuggets 16, Lakers 0

Kendra Andrews: Timberwolves in 6

Jerry Bembry: Timberwolves in 5

Tim Bontemps: Timberwolves in 7

Israel Gutierrez: Timberwolves in 7

Chris Herring: Timberwolves in 7

Tim Legler: Timberwolves in 7

Zach Lowe: Suns in 6

Tim MacMahon: Suns in 6

Bobby Marks: Suns in 6

Dave McMenamin: Suns in 6

Kevin Pelton: Timberwolves in 7

Ramona Shelburne: Timberwolves in 7

André Snellings: Timberwolves in 7

Marc J. Spears: Suns in 7

Ohm Youngmisuk: Suns in 7


Final tally: Timberwolves 9, Suns 6

Kendra Andrews: Clippers in 6

Jerry Bembry: Mavericks in 6

Tim Bontemps: Mavericks in 6

Israel Gutierrez: Mavericks in 6

Chris Herring: Mavericks in 6

Tim Legler: Mavericks in 6

Zach Lowe: Mavericks in 7

Tim MacMahon: Mavericks in 6

Bobby Marks: Mavericks in 6

Dave McMenamin: Clippers in 7

Kevin Pelton: Mavericks in 7

Jorge Sedano: Clippers in 7

Ramona Shelburne: Clippers in 7

André Snellings: Mavericks in 6

Marc J. Spears: Mavericks in 7

Ohm Youngmisuk: Clippers in 7


Final tally: Mavericks 10, Clippers 5

Eastern Conference first round


Kendra Andrews: Celtics in 5

Jerry Bembry: Celtics in 5

Tim Bontemps: Celtics in 4

Israel Gutierrez: Celtics in 7

Chris Herring: Celtics in 4

Tim MacMahon: Celtics in 5

Bobby Marks: Celtics in 5

Dave McMenamin: Celtics in 5

Kevin Pelton: Celtics in 5

Ramona Shelburne: Celtics in 7

André Snellings: Celtics in 5

Marc J. Spears: Celtics in 5

Ohm Youngmisuk: Celtics in 7


Final tally: Celtics 13, Heat 0

Kendra Andrews: Knicks in 7

Jerry Bembry: Knicks in 6

Tim Bontemps: 76ers in 6

Israel Gutierrez: Knicks in 7

Chris Herring: Knicks in 6

Tim Legler: Knicks in 7

Zach Lowe: Knicks in 7

Tim MacMahon: Knicks in 7

Bobby Marks: Knicks in 5

Dave McMenamin: Knicks in 7

Kevin Pelton: 76ers in 6

Jorge Sedano: Knicks in 7

Ramona Shelburne: Knicks in 6

André Snellings: 76ers in 6

Marc J. Spears: Knicks in 6

Ohm Youngmisuk: Knicks in 7


Final tally: Knicks 13, 76ers 3

Kendra Andrews: Bucks in 7

Jerry Bembry: Pacers in 7

Tim Bontemps: Pacers in 6

Israel Gutierrez: Pacers in 6

Chris Herring: Pacers in 5

Tim Legler: Pacers in 6

Zach Lowe: Pacers in 6

Tim MacMahon: Pacers in 6

Bobby Marks: Pacers in 6

Dave McMenamin: Bucks in 7

Kevin Pelton: Bucks in 7

Jorge Sedano: Bucks in 7

Ramona Shelburne: Bucks in 7

André Snellings: Bucks in 7

Marc J. Spears: Bucks in 7

Ohm Youngmisuk: Pacers in 7


Final tally: Pacers 9, Bucks 7

Kendra Andrews: Magic in 6

Jerry Bembry: Cavaliers in 6

Tim Bontemps: Magic in 6

Israel Gutierrez: Cavaliers in 7

Chris Herring: Magic in 6

Tim Legler: Cavaliers in 7

Zach Lowe: Cavaliers in 7

Tim MacMahon: Magic in 6

Bobby Marks: Cavaliers in 7

Dave McMenamin: Cavaliers in 6

Kevin Pelton: Cavaliers in 7

Jorge Sedano: Cavaliers in 6

Ramona Shelburne: Cavaliers in 7

André Snellings: Cavaliers in 6

Marc J. Spears: Magic in 7

Ohm Youngmisuk: Magic in 6


Final tally: Cavaliers 10, Magic 6



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