•Suns over the Blazers. Without a healthy Clyde Drexler—perhaps even with a healthy Clyde Drexler—this was not destined to be Portland's year. The Blazers will play with determination and pride, but they don't have enough to stop Phoenix.
•Sonics over the Rockets. Seattle has beaten Houston in six of their last seven meetings, primarily because its aggressive backcourt dominates the Rocket guards. What's more, Houston shooting guard Vernon Maxwell, who broke his left wrist last week, will not be at full strength. Finally, the Sonics have enough defenders—Michael Cage, Shawn Kemp, Sam Perkins—to throw at Hakeem Olajuwon to keep him (relatively) under control.
•Suns over the Sonics. There will certainly be some fireworks when Charles Barkley (page 78) confronts the lippy Sonics. But Seattle doesn't have a consistent enough offense to back up the talk. Phoenix, primarily because of Barkley, does.
Eastern Conference, first round
•Knicks over the Pacers. It took the Pacers until their 82nd and final game of the season to clinch a playoff spot they should have solidified a month ago. They'll need a heart transplant to give fired-up New York a battle.
•Hornets over the Celtics. Hey, there'll be at least one first-round upset, right?
•Cavaliers over the Nets. New Jersey would feel better about this series if Kenny Anderson were in uniform. But he's not (Anderson is sidelined with a broken left wrist), and without him the Nets don't have the savvy and poise to stay with Cleveland. Even when the Nets were running red-hot earlier in the season, coach Chuck Daly told everybody, "We're not yet ready for prime time." He was right then, and he still is.
•Bulls over the Hawks. It was a fine season in Atlanta for Dominique Wilkins and for Mookie Blaylock. But the Hawks will have a tough decision to make after this series: To become contenders, do they have to trade the 33-year-old Wilkins while he still has value?
East, second round
•Knicks over the Hornets. One of New York's four home losses this season came at the hands of the young and scrappy Hornets. Charlotte doesn't have enough talent to stay with the Knicks in a best-of-seven-games series, but if guard Kendall Gill and coach Allan Bristow resolve their differences during the summer, watch out for the Hornets next season.