As the NBA post season is now in full swing, we preview the top teams and the exciting match-ups to look forward to. Russell Westbrook and James Harden will battle for the league’s MVP awards. The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics battled mightily for the top seed in the East, only to face a rugged Bulls team with a lot to prove. The playoffs are full of sweeps, intense game sevens, and awesome buzzer beaters. I’ll preview every series and give you my predictions.
#1 Celtics vs #8 Bulls
The Celtics clinched the #1 seed with a strong 52-29 record. Boston possesses one of the top offenses in the league with Isaiah Thomas running the show. Thomas is being considered as an MVP due to his stellar performance. The Bulls barely squeaked into the playoffs with a 41-41 record. D’wyane Wade recently returned from his shoulder injury and is hoping to propel the Bulls to first round upset. The Bulls have struggled this year but have played well against Celtics specifically. I see Jimmy Butler playing his best, especially on the defensive side of the ball, but Isaiah Thomas will be too much for them.
Prediction: Celtics win series in 5 games
#2 Cavaliers vs #7 Pacers
LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavs have been on a downhill spiral ever since New Years. Important role players have been injured and the team has had bad chemistry throughout this time. Hopefully, James and the Cavs can turn things around before the start of game 1. The Pacers have done just the opposite by putting things on track since the All Star game. Paul George has gone to a new level and new addition Lance Stephenson will be key to causing havoc against the Cavs. LeBron James will have a tough battle with Paul George making the series exciting to watch.
Prediction: Cavs win series in 6 games
#3 Raptors vs #6 Bucks
The Toronto Raptors haven’t been as strong as they have been early on in the year, but have been excellent the past couple games. Demar Derozan is a true elite player and he has been great this year. He could help the Raptors make a deep run this year. The Bucks, like the Raptors, are a very young team. Coach Jason Kidd understands the potential his team has and they could make this matchup fun to watch. Ultimately though, Demar Derozan will show his All-Star status in this series.
Prediction: Raptors win in 4 games
#4 Wizards vs #5 Hawks
I consider this the most even matchup in the Eastern Conference. John Wall has improved tremendously since last season and his stats prove it. Washington has a strong starting five that work very well together. Atlanta lost a lot of good players this offseason but made up for it by grabbing All-Star center Dwight Howard. Howard has helped the Hawks compete in every game this year. I don’t believe the Hawks have enough playmaking ability to withstand the Wizard and I see John Wall putting up great numbers in every game and having a strong series.
Prediction: Wizards win series in 6 games
#1 Warriors vs #8 Trail Blazers
The Golden State Warriors are the super team every team was afraid of. Steph Curry and his fellow teammates have all the ability to make another championship run but they have tough competitors to go through first. Portland has great young stars that love to shoot the three just like the Warriors. Portland can hang with anybody and could give Golden State a tough first round series. My prediction is that Damian Lillard makes it tough for the Warriors throughout the series but Steph Curry is too much to handle.
Prediction: Warriors win series in 5 games
#2 Spurs vs #7 Grizzlies
The Spurs, with Gregg Popovich at the helm, will most likely make a deep run as they always do. Without Tim Duncan in the playoffs for the first time this will be a different experience for Coach Pop. San Antonio plays as a team which is always good for a deep playoff run. The Grizzlies paid Mike Conley the richest contract in the NBA and he hasn’t validated his contract yet this season. Memphis hopes Mike Conley and his group can make things tough for the Spurs, but I don’t see the Grizzlies having any players to stop Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.
Prediction: Spurs win in 4 games.
#3 Rockets vs #6 Thunder
This is the series everybody is most looking forward too. The battle of the MVP candidates could bring us the buzzer beaters we all want to see. James Harden and his Houston Rockets seemingly have a rule to shoot only threes or layups–nothing else. The Rockets are one of the highest scoring teams in the league. Russell Westbrook or “ Mr. Triple Double” will make things difficult for Harden, but I don’t believe that the Thunder have the talent that Houston does I think that this will be an exciting series and Westbrook hits a game winner in game 7.
Prediction: Thunder win series in 7 games
#4 Clippers vs #5 Jazz
Chris Paul has struggled throughout his career in the playoffs with the Clippers. Los Angeles hasn’t made it through a conference finals since Paul has been on the team. The Clippers have a lot of star power but I don’t see them making it very far this year. The Utah Jazz have been a very quiet team this year and I think the players like it that way. Gordon Hayward made his first All-Star game this year and has carried the Jazz in close games. I see the Jazz making a strong push in this year’s playoffs. Hayward could be close to having the series of his life by shocking the Clippers in this series.
Prediction: Jazz win in 6 games
- Boston will play spectacular throughout the playoffs and make it to the conference finals.
- Toronto will upset Cleveland in the second round to make the conference finals.
- Toronto will beat Boston in an exciting game 7 matchup to make the NBA Finals
- Utah will give a tough fight to the Warriors but lose in 7 games for a chance to go to the conference finals
- San Antonio plows through Oklahoma City to make the conference finals
- San Antonio will make it to the NBA Finals after taking Golden State to 7 games
- San Antonio will be too much for Toronto and win the series in 6 games to be crowned NBA Champions