82 games have concluded. Regular season is now over. For some teams it’s time to plan for the NBA draft while others are preparing for Round 1 of the NBA Playoffs. Matchups have been set and the video guys are really making their money as they gather up more tape than policemen during a Baltimore summer. Bodies are physically and mentally tired but this is overtime for the NBA season. Who will win…no one knows but I have some thoughts.
Here are the matchups:
Western Conference: (1) Golden State vs. (8) NO Pelicans
(2) Houston Rockets vs. (7) Dallas Mavericks
(3) Los Angeles Clippers vs. (6) San Antonio Spurs
(4) Portland Trailblazers vs. (5) Memphis Grizzlies
Eastern Conference: (1) Atlanta vs. (8) Brooklyn
(2) Cleveland vs. (7) Boston
(3) Chicago vs. (6) Milwaukee
(4) Toronto vs. (5) Washington
Atlanta vs. Brooklyn– As always there’s an 8 seed in the Eastern conference with a losing record and needed all the help they could get and by the skin of their teeth, Brooklyn has made the playoffs. Can an old school coach like Lionel Hollins guide this squad to make an interesting series or nah? This has a little intrigue with respect to the front office because these teams were in a trade back in 2012 that brought Joe Johnson to Brooklyn and now the final piece in this puzzle is this year’s draft pick. This doesn’t look like an interesting series but the bright spot for Brooklyn has been the play of Brook Lopez.
Prediction: Hawks in 5
Cleveland vs. Boston– This series is a far cry from the last time these teams met in the playoffs. LeBron didn’t have Kyrie Irving, Mozgov, J.R. Smith and Kevin Love. Boston doesn’t have Kevin Garnett, Rondo, Pierce and Allen running through the tunnel. LeBron in 9-0 in first round series and I don’t expect it to turn into 9-1. Can’t count out Brad Stevens and his scrappy ways of teaching but this isn’t Butler.
Prediction: Cavs in 4
Chicago vs. Milwaukee– Let’s give it up for Jason Kidd. 2 years of coaching and both years he has taken his team to the playoffs. Would Jabari Parker make a difference if he were healthy…well it would definitely add some intrigue. However the emergence of the Greek Freak as well as their other young talent such as Khris Middleton and Michael Carter-Williams this won’t be as easy as the Bulls think. The Bulls have their core players like Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Derrick Rose coming back they should advance to the next round.
Prediction: Bulls in 6
Toronto vs. Washington– I wonder if Drake and Wale will announce the lineups during this series. What’s the over/under for the amount of times the TV cuts to Drake during this series? Toronto is coming off a season where they won 49 games but struggle during the end of the season; however they still have home field advantage. On paper, I have Washington winning the battle in the frontcourt; therefore this series will be won by the guard play. Which backcourt will be better? John Wall and Bradley Beal or Kyle Lowry and Demar Derozan. This should be the best series of the first round for the East side.
Prediction: Wizards in 7
Golden State vs. New Orleans Pelicans– Come on down Anthony Davis you have chosen to be the next superstar to make his debut in the playoffs. Monty Williams tell him what he wins, ‘he wins a trip to play one of the better teams in NBA history…the Golden State Warriors’ Look man Anthony Davis is going to get his. In the two games he did play, he averaged 29.5 points and 12.5 rebounds. The question is will the other guys such as Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson and Omer Asik show up. Their play will determine how long or short New Orleans is in the playoffs.
Prediction: Warriors in 6
Houston vs. Dallas Mavericks– Both owners don’t like each other. Both teams made splashes throughout the season with the acquisition of new players and for them to meet in the first round has the makings of an epic series. Chandler Parsons going against his old team. Dirk gets another shot at a title. Jason Terry gets a shot of revenge against his former team. Will Dirk, Monta and Rondo be enough or will the Beard, Dwight Howard and the gang move on to the second round.
Prediction: Houston in 7
LA Clippers vs. San Antonio Spurs– Never count out a Gregg Popovich team. They are the Whitewalkers of the NBA. Will this be the last time Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are in the playoffs together? Can LA get over this stigma that they are soft? Will CP3 ever get to the second round?
Prediction: Spurs in 7
Portland vs. Memphis– Make sure you have some Icy Hot patches, tiger balm and a reservation for a trip to the trainer after every game because these teams will be banging each other around as Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph prepare for Robin Lopez and LaMarcus Aldridge. I think the injuries to Wesley Matthews, Dorell Wright, CJ McCollum and Nicolas Batum will be too much for them to overcome.
Prediction: Memphis in 6
Eastern Conference Semifinal:
Atlanta vs. Washington– Atlanta is a good team capable of many things such as a 19 game winning streak but they meet a formidable challenger in the Washington Wizards. You never know which Wizards team will show up but with an experienced Paul Pierce being the wily vet this team will be a difficult out. My gut is telling that an upset is brewing. You know what this is only a prediction so fuck it why not…
Prediction: Wizards in 7
Cleveland vs. Chicago– Joakim Noah doesn’t like LeBron and he has no problems letting him know for crying out loud he called him a pussy last time they played each other. Cleveland and Chicago have history besides being in the same division so this could be as juicy as a patty fresh off the grill. How will Chicago’s defense fare against Cleveland? I’m intrigued by the frontcourt matchup of Mozgov and Love vs. Noah and Gasol. This will be an entertaining series to say the least.
Prediction: Cleveland in 7
Western Conference Semifinal
Golden State vs. Memphis– Memphis is battling injuries and has the difficult task of stopping the Splash Brothers. It would be easier if Mike Conley or Tony Allen was 100 percent but that isn’t how the cookie crumbles. All isn’t over as Memphis still has the advantage in the frontcourt. Even though Draymond Green is a great defender he’s undersized against Zach Randolph. I think the attrition of Memphis and sharp shooting of the Splash Brothers will be too much for Memphis to handle.
Prediction: Golden State in 6
Houston vs. San Antonio Spurs– Can James Harden score on Kawhi Leonard? Can Dwight Howard hit a free throw? Can Tim Duncan have his way in the post against Howard? San Antonio has the players to neutralize their best players so the real question is how will the rest of the Rockets perform? Will this daunting task be too much for the Houston players?
Prediction: San Antonio in 6
Eastern Conference Final
Washington vs. Cleveland– In his first year back with Cleveland, LeBron is back in the Eastern Conference Finals with his former team. This is new ground for both teams except for LeBron of course. What I have noticed is that the complete team with depth poses a problem for LeBron, whether it’s the Celtics of the past or the Spurs in the present. Will LeBron go full stealth mode to propel his team to the chip or will Paul Pierce continue to be a thorn in LeBron James side.
Prediction: Cleveland in 6
Western Conference Final
Golden State vs. San Antonio– Gregg Popovich vs. Steve Kerr. Former player vs. coach. Deadly shooters vs. formidable defense. This has the makings of an instant classic. In the end I think the student gets the better of the teacher but these whitewalkers will not go quietly.
Prediction: Warriors in 7
Golden State vs. Cleveland– LeBron in the Finals for the 5th time in a row. Who does he think he is…Bill Russell? (If you remember that little spat between the two then you’ll get that reference) How will LeBron and the rest of the Heartbeats perform under the brightest of lights? How will the rookie head coaches handle their adjustments? Will LeBron become a player-coach? Will Kevin Love shrink if LeBron and Kyrie are dominating the ball? Will the bright lights be too much for Golden State? This has a ESPN 30 for 30 documentary written all over it because I have Cleveland bringing the chip home and cementing the legacy of arguably one of the greatest players to ever touch the basketball and it will go 7 games.
Prediction: Cavaliers in 7
Get your HD or curved TV’s ready because the playoffs are back in town.