NBA Playoffs predictions
Movie quote of the day:
“A man makes his own way. No one gives it to you. You have to take it.”
– Frank Costello, “The Departed” (2006)
The NBA Playoffs start today. I’m looking forward to it because I enjoy watching the NBA. It’s probably my third favorite sport to watch, outside of college and pro football. Ever since I was a teenager this is the point in the year when I pay attention to the NBA the most. Here’s my predictions:
Eastern Conference first round:
8. Detroit Pistons (44-38) vs. 1. Cleveland Cavaliers (57-25)
Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond have had excellent seasons for Detroit. However, I think the Pistons are no match for this experienced Cleveland team. Despite the Cavaliers’ struggles in the regular season, I expect LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love to be too much for the Pistons.
Prediction: Cavaliers in five.
5. Boston Celtics (48-34) vs. 4. Atlanta Hawks (48-34)
Atlanta posted a 3-1 record against Boston in the regular season. I don’t know why but I think Boston is going to be ready to play after that 26-point comeback victory over Miami this week. The Celtics should carry a lot of momentum because of that. This is a biased prediction because I’m a Celtics fan, but I love Brad Stevens as a head coach.
Prediction: Celtics in seven.
6. Charlotte Hornets (48-34) vs. 3. Miami Heat (48-34)
I think this will be the most interesting round one matchup in the East. Even though Miami is the No. 3 seed, there’s not much of a drop-off to Charlotte. I think this will be a tough series for Miami. Both of these teams play great defense, and Kemba Walker played lights out in the regular season (averaging 20.9 points per game). I think the Hornets get the upset.
Prediction: Hornets in seven.
7. Indiana Pacers (45-37) vs. 2. Toronto Raptors (56-26)
Toronto ended the season well, winning its last four games. The Raptors outscored their opponents in those four games 429-381. Paul George had a solid season, but he’s pretty much a one man show for Indiana. That won’t last in the postseason. I like the Raptors to move on and win their first playoff series with this group.
Prediction: Raptors in six.
Eastern Conference semifinals:
5. Celtics vs. 1. Cavaliers
I really didn’t like the way Cleveland ended the regular season. The Cavaliers struggled in the last month of the season, and dropped three of its last four games. For a long time, Cleveland hasn’t looked like a functional team and the rumors have started again if LeBron will leave in the offseason. However, the Cavaliers have too much firepower and I don’t think the Celtics can match up with them.
Prediction: Cavaliers in six.
6. Hornets vs. 2. Raptors
I really like Toronto’s guard combination. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan average a combined 44.7 points per game. I don’t think the Hornets’ guards will be able to keep up with Toronto’s. Plus, Toronto will have the edge with home-court advantage. I like the Raptors to take the series.
Prediction: Raptors in six.
Eastern Conference finals:
2. Raptors vs. 1. Cavaliers
Like I said before, I didn’t like the way Cleveland has played for the last month or so. The Cavaliers look dysfunctional and like they’re not getting along. I think the Cavaliers’ front office made a huge mistake firing David Blatt and I think the result has shown on the court. It’s hard to pick against LeBron James. Cleveland might’ve been resting for the playoffs, but I just don’t think it’s the Cavaliers’ year. This is a guard-driven league and the Raptors have two of the best guards in the league.
Prediction: Raptors in seven.
Western Conference first round:
8. Houston Rockets (41-41) vs. 1. Golden State Warriors (73-9)
There’s no way I’m picking against the defending champions and the team that just broke the record for wins in a season to get eliminated in the first round.
Prediction: Warriors in four.
5. Portland Trail Blazers (44-38) vs. 4. Los Angeles Clippers (53-29)
Portland has been a great story this season. Everyone thought the Trail Blazers were going to have a drop off after losing LaMarcus Aldridge in free agency. However, the Trail Blazers are back in the postseason without Aldridge. However, I think this is where the road ends for them. The Clippers have too much talent and Doc Rivers is one of the NBA’s best coaches.
Prediction: Clippers in six.
6. Dallas Mavericks (42-40) vs. 3. Oklahoma City Thunder (55-27)
Dallas managed to sneak into the postseason for the 15th time in 16 years. I love Dirk Nowitzki, but the Mavericks can’t hang with the top teams in the West. I think Rick Carlisle is a great coach for Dallas, but Oklahoma City has too much talent. Also, the Mavericks didn’t beat the Thunder in the regular season.
Prediction: Thunder in five.
7. Memphis Grizzlies (42-40) vs. 2. San Antonio Spurs (67-15)
Memphis is a tough team and manage to play everyone tough, but the Grizzlies didn’t beat the Spurs in the regular season. San Antonio the second best team in the NBA and I don’t expect them to have struggles in the first round. I think they’ll move on with ease.
Prediction: Spurs in five.
Western Conference semifinals:
4. Clippers vs. 1. Warriors
The Clippers have a lot of talent and they’re well coached, but it’s not enough to match with the Warriors. I think the Clippers will give the Warriors an interesting series, but it won’t be enough. Golden State took care of business against the Clippers in the regular season, winning all four games. I don’t expect the Warriors to slip here.
Prediction: Warriors in five.
3. Thunder vs. 2. Spurs
I think this will be the most interesting series in the conference semifinals. OKC is capable of winning this series and moving on to the conference finals, but I can’t pick against Gregg Popovich and the Spurs. There’s a reason why this team has won five titles since 1999.
Prediction: Spurs in six.
Western Conference finals:
2. Spurs vs. 1. Warriors
I will consider this series the real NBA Finals. These teams have proven to be the top two teams in the NBA. I plan on being tuned in to every game if they manage to get this far. For as good as the Spurs have been this season, they’ve struggled against Golden State, losing three out of four games. I’m going to chalk that up as San Antonio saving its legs for the postseason. This series will be the Warriors’ toughest test, but the Warriors have taken care of business all season and I like them to move on
Prediction: Warriors in six.
2. Raptors vs. 1. Warriors
I like Toronto’s guards but I don’t think they can match up with Golden State. The Warriors won 73 games for a reason. They’re too good offensively and play tight defense. I think the Warriors handle the Raptors and defend their title.
Prediction: Warriors in five.
Thanks for reading
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