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NBA PlayoffsSpringtime is typically one of the slowest times of the year in terms of ticket sales.   We are still a few months away from the summer concert season, warm baseball games, and the start of both college and NFL football.  However, spring is also the time when both the NHL and NBA are conducting their annual post-season tournaments.  Although both the NBA and NHL are largely struggling to fill their arenas, the playoffs are a different story as fans are eager to gobble up often sold out tickets- especially in major sports markets like Philadelphia, Washington DC, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, and Denver.

The 2012 NBA Playoff have just begun and there has already been some major headlines as teams are vying for the NBA Finals.  The biggest news thus far has been season ending knee injury to reigning MVP Derek Rose.  Without Rose the Chicago Bulls chances for a rematch with the Miami Heat seems unlikely.  With the Bulls less than full strength the Heat seemingly have an easy path through the NBA East.  Here is a look at the 1st round matchups for the 2012 NBA Playoffs.

NBA East

#1 Chicago Bulls vs Philadelphia 76ers

Although the series is tied 1-1, the Bulls should be able to get by the 76ers even without Derek Rose.  The Bulls did not look good in game two but that can be blamed on the emotional lull following the loss of their leader.  Expect the Bulls to rebound and finish off the 76ers in 6 games.

#2 Miami Heat vs #7 New York Knicks

Everyone expected this to be an intriguing matchup with the potential for a major upset.  That has not been the case and the Heat blew out the Knicks in games 1 and 2.  Throw in the fact the Amare Stoudamire messed up his hand and is likely out for the series and you have the makings of a Heat sweep.

#3 Indiana Pacers vs #6 Orlando Magic

The Indiana Pacers were one of the surprises in the NBA East this year.  Without any true superstars, this team relies on tough defense and a deep bench.  The Pacers would not likely be favored in this series had Dwight Howard been healthy.  Expect the Pacers to be the Magic in 5 games.

#4 Boston Celtics vs #5 Atlanta Hawks

Most people assumed the Celtics would have their way with Atlanta setting up a Bulls – Celtics round 2.  However, the Hawks were able to steal home court advantage with a win in game 1.  The series is currently tied 1-1 after the Celtics beat the hawks in game 2 with Rajon Rondo serving a 1 game suspension.  The Celtic should be able to finish off the Hawks in 6 games.

NBA West

#1 San Antonio Spurs vs #8 Utah Jazz

The Sprus came in as the #1 seed and are showing the Jazz why.  The Spurs lead the series 2-0 easily handling the Jazz in each of the first two games.  Tony Parker and Tim Duncan look hungry for another NBA title.

#2 Oklahoma City Thunder vs #7 Dallas Mavericks

The defending NBA Champs look like they are in trouble.  Although the games have been tight the Mavericks find themselves down 0-2 to the Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook led Thunder.  Its hard to imagine the Mavs will go down without a fight though so expect this series to go 6 games.

#3 LA Lakers vs #6 Denver Nuggets

Kobe Bryant is showing the Nuggets he still has something left in the tank.  The Lakers are up 2 game to none as the series will head to Denver for games 3 and 4.  Don’t expect the Nuggets to make a return trip to LA.

#4 Memphis Grizzlies vs #5 LA Clippers

This should be a great series between two teams on the rise.  Chris Paul coming back into form and joing forces with Blake Griffin has certainly been fun to watch as the Clippers have become relevant for the first time in my lifetime.  However, don’t count out the Grizz.  Expect this series to go a full 7 games with the Clippers edging out Memphis.

NHL Hockey action is also heating up as the opening round had more than its share of upsets.  Well into round 2 there are only 8 teams left standing.  Below are the matchups for round 2.

NHL East

#1 NY Rangers vs #7 Washington Capitals

The Rangers are the lone #1 seed left in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs and currently have a 2-1 lead over the rival Capitals.  The last game went into triple over-time.  Expect this series to go the full 7 games with the Caps pulling off the upset.

#5 Philadelphia Flyers vs #6 New Jersey Devils

There is no love lost between these two teams.  The series is currently tied at 1-1 but the Devils have taken away home ice advantage with a convincing 4-1 victory in game 2.  Despite that, the Flyers are just too talented to lose.  The Flyers in 6.

NHL West

#2 St. Louis Blues vs #8 LA Kings

The St. Louis Blues are in big trouble down 0-2 to the upstart LA Kings.  The NHL West landscape is certainly changing without the likes of the Canucks, Red Wings and Blackhawks.  This was supposed to be the Blues time to shine…

#3 Phoenix Coyotes vs #4 Nashville Predators

What both of these teams lack in talent they make up for in hustle and drive.  The Coyotes currently lead 2-1 but the momentum has shifted after the Yotes got shutout in Nashville.  Should be an entertaining series that will go the full 7 games.