With the start of the playoffs come the obligatory picks from the ESPN Dallas family -- both digital and 103.3.
The consensus seems to lean toward the Mavs, who will nevertheless have a fight on their hands against the Blazers if the experts are on to something. You can see a consensed version of their picks (along with their mugs) on our newly launched Mavericks Playoffs Center. You will also find predictions from throughout ESPN.com's NBA ranks along with matchups, podcasts and more.
And now, without further ado ...
Todd Archer, ESPNDallas.com -- Mavs in 6. Tired of the soft label, the Mavericks get out of the first round with Rick Carlisle pushing all of the right buttons.
Bryan Broaddus, ESPNDallas.com -- Mavs in 5. Hey Mark, is that positive enough for you? Is it cool if I can go in the locker room now?
Jeff Caplan, ESPNDallas.com -- Mavs in 6. My gut doesn't feel comfortable with this pick but I base it on two factors. The first is I haven't totally bought into Portland despite it's backcourt size advantage, the sensational season of LaMarcus Aldridge and its great home crowd. Second, I do believe the Mavs are mentally stronger this year and are capable of bringing playoff defense. It won't be easy, but the Mavs will get it done on the road.
Chuck Cooperstein, Coop and Nate -- Mavs in 7. The Mavericks have their ghosts but the Blazers do too, having not won a playoff series since 2000 and losing the last two years as the higher seed. Home court in Game 7 is the difference.
Richard Durrett, ESPNDallas.com. -- Mavs in 7. Homecourt advantage will matter in close series for Mavs, who have some momentum.
Ian Fitzsimmons, Galloway and Company -- Blazers in 6. Aldridge has accepted the passing of the torch and raised his game over the course of the season. Size, toughness may be too much for Mavs.
Randy Galloway, Galloway and Company -– Blazers in 6. Too much toughness, too much grit, too many coconuts on this Blazers squad.
Tim MacMahon, ESPNDallas.com -- Portland in 6. The Trail Blazers' big bench guards steal a game in Dallas and Mavs can't win in wild Rose Garden.
Matt Mosley, Galloway and Company -- Blazers in 6. This is not a good matchup. Brandon Roy's knees can last one round, and LaMarcus Aldridge has become a force. Rose Garden is a house of horrors.
Nate Newton, Coop and Nate -- Mavs in 6. No matter who the opponent is.
Ben Rogers, Ben and Skin -- Blazers in 6. With a lockout looming, the Mavs opted not to replace Caron Butler after his season-ending injury. Then they looked on helplessly as Roddy B regressed significantly. Aging, slumping, jump shooting teams don't typically roll through the playoffs. One and done.
Joe Trahan, ESPNDallas.com Live - Mavs in 7. Seagoville's LaMarcus Aldridge and his long and athletic teammates will push the Mavs to the brink, but Dirk and company will find a way to win game seven at home.
Jeff "Skin" Wade, Ben and Skin -- Mavs in 6. The move to get DeShawn Stevenson back in from the jump pays dividends against Portland's bigger back court and sets a "playoff-styled tone."
Calvin Watkins, ESPNDallas.com -- Blazers in 7. The Blazers are too physical and athletic for the Mavericks. IF Portland splits the first two games, I don't see how Dallas can win on the road -- but I still see it going the distance.