Commentary

Playoff predictions: Round 1

Updated: April 19, 2013, 4:30 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

With the 2013 NCAA tournament in the books, it is time to focus on the NBA playoffs.

The postseason for the pros is so much more intense than the regular season as the world's premier athletes are showcased in a best-of-seven scenario.

Here are my opinions about the first round:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

MIAMI HEAT OVER MILWAUKEE BUCKS IN FIVE

The Heat are well-rested and ready. Erik Spoelstra's team is arguably deeper than last season's championship team. The bottom line is, LeBron James is ready to start his postseason run and he will not be stopped.

NEW YORK KNICKS OVER BOSTON CELTICS IN SIX

Carmelo Anthony has his scoring title, and now he wants a playoff series win. The Celtics veterans will not make this easy, as Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett will give it 110 percent but fall short.

INDIANA PACERS OVER ATLANTA HAWKS IN SIX

The Pacers are the favorites, but this will be a battle. I expect this to be a physical series. Pacers forward Paul George has developed into a star, and he will shine on this big stage.

BROOKLYN NETS OVER CHICAGO BULLS IN SEVEN

Deron Williams and Joe Johnson will be too much for the defensive-minded Bulls. It will go to the limit.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER OVER HOUSTON ROCKETS IN FIVE

Rockets star James Harden would love to beat his former team, but it will not happen.

SAN ANTONIO SPURS OVER LOS ANGELES LAKERS IN FIVE

The Lakers will fight, but without Kobe Bryant, the veteran Spurs will put this away. Spurs PG Tony Parker needs to play like Tony Parker.

DENVER NUGGETS OVER GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS IN SIX

Nuggets coach George Karl needs a healthy Kenneth Faried in this series. Expect a lot of scoring in this fast-paced matchup.

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS OVER MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES IN SEVEN

This should be the most interesting first-round series. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul will lead the Clippers to a hard-fought win.

In the end, I see LeBron getting his second ring and a fourth NBA MVP award. He will move a step closer to being considered the greatest player of all time. Michael the Magnificent, do you hear footsteps, 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.