Commentary

Making picks for 2012 NBA playoffs

Updated: April 27, 2012, 3:41 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

This is the best time of the year for pro basketball fans. The second season means so much because you have to survive and advance or else you go home, baby!

Teams will play with so much emotion and intensity during the postseason. NBA players are the best athletes in the world and they love to show their stuff in the playoffs. It is crunch time, with all the money on the table.

As I look at the first round of the playoffs, I believe we will have a number of great series, several going the distance.

Here are my picks for the first round:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

CHICAGO OVER PHILADELPHIA IN 5
The health of Derrick Rose is a key for Chicago. The Sixers are not cupcake city and Doug Collins' team played well in the playoffs a year ago.

[+] EnlargeLeBron James and Carmelo Anthony
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe matchup of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony will be one to watch in the first round.

MIAMI OVER NEW YORK IN 6
You will see the real LeBron James in this series. He has a different mindset in the postseason, and you will see his focus against the Knicks and Carmelo Anthony. This will be a tough series but Miami advances.

INDIANA OVER ORLANDO IN 6
The Pacers deserve more love entering the playoffs, as Frank Vogel has done a good job. Even without Dwight Howard, the Magic will compete.

BOSTON OVER ATLANTA IN 6
The veterans on the Celtics want to make one more run. Ray Allen is hurting (ankle) and that will be a factor in a tough series. But Doc Rivers will find a way to get it done.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

SAN ANTONIO OVER UTAH IN 5
Tony Parker has been a solid leader. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will succeed against the Jazz.

OKLAHOMA CITY OVER DALLAS IN 7
This will be one of the best first-round series. The Thunder need a healthy James Harden. The defending champion Mavericks will fight hard.

LAKERS OVER DENVER IN 6
Mike Brown's team will be challenged by the quickness of Ty Lawson. Kobe knows it is time to shine.

CLIPPERS OVER MEMPHIS IN 7
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin will give the other L.A. team a 1-2 punch that moves on in a thrilling series.

When it is all said and done, I like Miami over San Antonio in six games in the NBA Finals, as LeBron James gets his elusive championship.

This is the time of year NBA fans are excited about. It should be awesome, baby!

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.