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ESPN writers pick Clippers in first round

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Twenty-one of ESPN's NBA writers made their formal predictions for the Clippers-Blazers' first round series. Of the group, only one picked the Blazers. Last year, however, it was the Clippers who proved the writers wrong. Can they make them right this year?

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

With the Clippers - Blazers first round series set to start on Sunday, the writers of ESPN placed their bets on what the outcome will be (well, they made their predictions at least).

Only one writer, Israel Gutierrez, was brave enough to pick the fifth seed Trail Brazers. He was not, however, the only writer to suggest that the Blazers would not go down easily. As Casey Holdahl's tweet notes, seven writers felt the Clippers would need the full series -- seven games -- to put down Portland.

Final Tally:

Clippers in four: 0

Clippers in five: 3

Clippers in six: 10

Clippers in seven: 7

Blazers in seven: 1

These predictions, of course, do not really mean much for the ultimate outcome, but as we wait for the series' prime time tip-off, they are all we have to simmer over for now. They can, however, provide a spark of motivation or inspiration within the team on the short end of the predictions -- the Blazers, in this case.

Ironically, it was the Clippers who were on the short end of these predictions last year, which prompted head coach Doc Rivers to present the team with the following handout:

As we know, the Clippers were able to "upset" the Spurs -- putting the NBA writers in their place. But this time around, these writers have either learned their lesson about going against the Clippers; or, they just simply do not think that the Blazers can upset the Clippers, reversing the Clippers' "underdog" role of last year's series.

Either way, we know that the Clippers, although already eager to win, were further fueled by being the underdog against the Spurs last year. Undoubtably, the Blazers will take on a similar mindset. What is left, then, is to see if the Clippers can hold off the Blazers in a way that the Spurs could not last season.