The business end of the NBA season is here. Frankly it’s my best time of the year. After the playoffs, you have the draft then free agency and then things dies down for two months and in late September, we get to do the dance all over again.
On to business now
West Conference Preview
GSW v Portland: After the All Star Break, my initial pick for the 8th spot in the west was Portland. I expected them to make s run similar to what they did after the all star break last year and that’s exactly what they did. Damian Lillard messed around and dropped 59 the other night. Unfortunately, they are up against the Warrirors in the first round and they might win one game, maaaybe two but that’s as far as they are going. I predict Lilard will have at least one game with 40 points but the Warrirors have too much fire power for them
Spurs v Grizz: Spurs play the Grizzlies and initially I thought this was the best chance for an upset in the first round. I remember the Grizzlies beat the Spurs as an 8 seed in 2011. I just read that Tony Allen is out for the first round of the playoffs and I think he takes with him any hope of an upset. You know how they say styles make fights, I think the spurs would find it difficult against a full strength Grizzlies team. Spurs in 6 for me
OKC v Houston- Westrbrook has been nothing short of phenomenal this season. I’m sorry but you can’t singlehandedly lead a team to the finals unless your name is Lebron, you have a super star side kick and the rest of the team is set up to compliment the skills of star 1a and 1b (ask Lebron from 2015). Like Dame Dollar, I expect Westbrook to drop 50 but I think Harden will kill them with his passing. The Rockets have too many weapons and can adjust from game to game. The Thunder will be too one dimensional and Westbrook will shoot them out of the playoffs.
Jazz v Clippers – The 4/5 match up is usually the toughest one and I am a pseudo Clippers fan and I have been very disappointed in them this year. They’ve been so inconsistent. Even if they ended the season on a 6 game win streak, getting past the first round of the playoffs will be a successful season regardless of what they say. I think the Jazz’ lack of playoff experience will count against them in crunch time and I’m backing the Clippers to come through this one. How far will they go after that? We will cross that bridge when we get there.
Eastern Conference Preview
Cavs v Pacers: Remember when the Pacers went toe to toe with Miami for the 1 seed in the east? That was back when Roy Hibbert was still relevant, David West had a spring in his step and Paul George didn’t have to worry about too much because Lance was playing his best basketball. Although Lance is back, the pacers look to me like a confused bunch. They have a really weird squad full of competent people but I don’t think they can get over the hump. The cavs will win anyway, no need for a long story. They might even sweep the thing.
Celtics v Bulls: After the Cavs, as far as I am concerned, the east is even. Yes the Celtics are clearly the better team and the Bulls are confused but I just don’t trust the Celtics. I don’t think Al Horford has taken them to a level where they are almost untouchable which is why I wanted them to trade for Paul George earlier this year. Rondo is playing against the Celtics and I expect him to be fired up against them. I have the Celtics winning but expect the bulls to take one or two games off them
Raptors v Bucks: These are two of my favourite teams. I like how the Raptors got up for the playoffs last year and took Cleveland to 6 in the playoffs. I think that experience gives them an edge. The bucks had that one run in the playoffs two seasons ago where the Bulls swept them. Let’s just say this series will be more character building for them. I want the Raptors to win anyway because for me, they are the team that can push the Cavs the closest.
Atlanta v Wizards: This is a repeat of the Eastern Semis from a few years ago when Paul Pierce hit this shot against the Hawks. John Wall broke his hand and it all went south really fast. Knock on wood Mr. Wall stays healthy and can get some vengeance. As a Wizards fan, I am really happy with the way the season went for them. It was touch and go after a few games this season and I am happy with the way the season went. I have them winning the series because I think they have better team chemistry and will respond better to adversity.
It might be a bit premature to make my Championship prediction now but I have Golden State winning it all. Cleveland showed me who they were when they couldn’t get up for regular season games. There is no on/off switch for this thing. I think there is a chance we don’t see a Cavs v Warriors Finals. You heard it here first!