Here is your 2011 NBA Playoffs schedule for Sunday, April 17th, and my picks on how the games will turn out.
Pick: The Spurs might be without Manu Ginobili on Saturday, but despite his value he isn't expected to be that much of a loss in this one with no Rudy Gay. Ginobili will not be needed to help defend Zach Randolph, but Tim Duncan should be able to do a good enough job to limit him and the Spurs shooting should be enough for them in Game 1. Spurs in a blowout.
New Orleans Hornets at Los Angeles Lakers, Game 1, 12:30 PM PT/3:30 PM ET, ABC
Pick: Expect this to be a typical Laker playoff opener. LA will come out dragging their feet against an opponent that isn't likely to win, and Chris Paul will definitely be raring to go, but they will eventually do just enough to squeak by. LA has not been consistent all season; don't expect them to start now. Lakers win close but comfortably, if that makes sense.
Pick: We all know New York's offense vs. Boston's defense is the big-time matchup, but the bigger story is whether the porous defense of the Knicks is exactly what the Celtics need to wake up their stagnant offense. I think Boston will need at least a game to get back into playoff form because they haven't looked good at all in the past month. I've got the Knicks in an upset.
Pick: A lot of people liking Denver as a sleeper pick in the first round, but they picked the worst possible team to face. Unless Aaron Afflalo is back and at 100%, they really have no great individual defenders to check Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Durant is also going to be a problem. Thunder will roll here.