We had to go through over six months of games and “planned rest” to get here, but we are finally here. I love the NBA playoffs and I think we could be in store for another good post-season. It is time to make some picks for the opening round of the playoffs which begin on Saturday.
#1 Boston vs. #8 Chicago
A lot of old school tradition in this matchup. The Celtics made the climb to the Eastern Conference’s top seed which was impressive. They may have done it based strictly on the Cavs free fall but they did it none the less. Boston has just too much fire power in this matchup. Wade and Butler will try and make this interesting but I don’t see it. Boston in 5
#4 Washington vs. #5 Atlanta
Washington got off to a horrendous start under first year head coach Scott Brooks. John Wall has played like an MVP this season and the rest of the cast has picked up their play. Atlanta has the NBA’s 2nd longest consecutive post-season streak, a fact that most people don’t seem to know because that hasn’t netted them much in the actual playoffs. This series should go a while thanks to Millsap and Dwight Howard but the Hawks will ultimately fall short. Washington in 7
#2 Cleveland vs. #7 Indiana
The world seems to be falling in on the champs. I don’t believe they will flip some magical switch but I also don’t think the Pacers are a team that will bother Cleveland much. The Cavs have just too much high level talent and still the best player in the world. Cavs should actually make quick work of this. Cleveland in 4
#3 Toronto vs. #6 Milwaukee
A lack of experience in the post-season versus a playoff tested team. Toronto worked their way back to the 3 seed after the injury to Kyle Lowry. Lowry is back and the additions of Tucker and Ibaka make them even deeper and tougher. Toronto has a ton of motivation, combined with experience and talent and the Raptors should roll. Toronto in 5
#1 Golden State vs. #8 Portland
I know Damian Lillard was bated into saying “Blazers in 6” but barring injury there is no way in my opinion. I will forgive Lillard for saying that but I do think the Warriors are even better defensively than a year ago and the injury to Durant got their bench some time. That is the biggest weakness but it won’t be a factor here. Warriors in 4
#4 Los Angeles Clippers vs. #5 Utah Jazz
The Clippers have a lot of playoff experience. A coach that has won a title in Doc Rivers, a roster that so desperately wants a title too. Forget the title, the Clippers need some post-season wins and a little luck. Utah is a tough opening draw even though they are their for the first time. Quinn Snyder has a tough minded defensive team with a dash of key veterans which will make this a “draining series”. It may not always be the prettiest series but it will be close. I give the slightest edge to the Clippers. Clippers in 7
#2 San Antonio vs. #7 Memphis
These just aren’t the same Memphis Grizzlies that have bothered the Spurs in the playoffs before. Gasol, Conley, and Randolph are still there and Vince Carter has defeated “father time” this year but they are going up against a machine. The Spurs can beat you with offense, defense, the bench, their coaching and even their experience. This series should be physical but “grit and grind” won’t work against these Spurs. San Antonio in 5
#3 Houston vs. #6 Oklahoma City
Best series on paper out of all eight matchups. Russell Westbrook has had an incredible season and will have an incredible post-season. If he doesn’t the Thunder have no chance. I believe he has figured out how to play enough as a one man show and enough as a guy that can get his teammates involved. With that said the Rockets have so many weapons. The addition of Lou Williams made a great offense even better. Houston may have an off shooting night or two but they will have some where they can’t miss. The Rockets will rely on the deep ball and it will be good to them. Also Patrick Beverly on Westbrook will be a joy to watch but a pain for Westbrook. Rockets in 6.
Enjoy the games.