Sunday, April 20, 2014

2014 NBA Playoff Predictions

The NBA Playoffs have finally arrived, and there will be some great match ups over the next few weeks. Let's take a look at some predictions for each round throughout the playoffs, with an in-depth look at Round 1. After each round, I will post another prediction for the next round with an in-depth look at each matchup, and noting how close I was in my original predictions.

Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals:

Indiana Pacers (1) vs. Atlanta Hawks (8)

The Pacers have been struggling of late and the Hawks could make this an interesting series, but the Pacers just have too much talent to lose this series. Paul George needs to reassert himself, and Roy Hibbert has to stop making excuses and start making an impact on the floor.  If the Pacers let this one slip away, it would be a rapid downfall for the ages.

Prediction: Pacers 4-2

Chicago Bulls (4) vs. Washington Wizards (5)

Sure, these teams are relatively close in the standings, but the Wizards really only are this high because of a terrible Eastern Conference. The Bulls have such a strong front court in Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, and Taj Gibson, that they should control the boards in most games. Although, if John Wall takes over some games and reigns in his streaky shot for a game or two, then the Wizards could have a chance.

Prediction: Bulls 4-2

Miami Heat (2) vs. Charlotte Bobcats (7)

The Heat didn't end up with the #1 seed, but they may have lucked out by playing the Bobcats. Now, that is not to insult the Bobcats, as they have had a pretty solid season, but compared to the Hawks they don't really have any players that could make a huge impact on the series. The Heat should take this series easily, despite maybe a few big shots from Kemba Walker. Despite a winner of two championships in a row, LeBron James is as driven as ever and should have a great series.

Prediction: Heat 4-0

Toronto Raptors (3) vs. Brooklyn Nets (6)

The Raptors got off to a great start this season and their #3 seed is a product of that (as well as the terrible Eastern Conference), while the Nets started off terribly, but have come on of late. This series should be interesting, but with the amount of playoff experience on this team, let alone its talent, should carry the Nets on to the next round.

Prediction: Nets 4-1

Western Conference Quarter-Finals:

San Antonio Spurs (1) vs. Dallas Mavericks (8)

The Spurs have been by far the best team in the league throughout the season, and there is no reason to believe that anything will change come playoff time. The obvious experience of coach Greg Popovich as well as Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili, plus the experience gained by the young players last year in their run to the finals should make them the favorites the rest of the way. Although the Mavericks might steal a game that Dirk Nowitzki takes over, the Spurs should win easily.

Prediction: Spurs 4-1

Houston Rockets (4) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (5)

This is a very close matchup, due to the pure talent on both sides. The Rockets have James Harden, Dwight Howard, and Chandler Parsons while the Blazers have Damien Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Nicholas Batum. There will definitely be a few games where Harden takes over, but also some when the Blazers' three-point shooters are on fire. Nonetheless, this should be one of the best series to watch in the entire NBA first round.

Prediction: Rockets 4-3

Oklahoma City Thunder (2) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (7)

Kevin Durant. I just listed the reason why the Thunder will win this series, despite the respectable talent of the Grizzlies, in Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, and Mike Conley. But, like LeBron James, Kevin Durant has that ability to take over each and every game he plays in and win it for his team. After a failed playoff run last year, Durant and the Thunder are more driven then ever to get back to the finals. I have not even mentioned Russell Westbrook and I already picked the Thunder to win, although the Grizzlies could steal a game or two.

Prediction: Thunder 4-1

Los Angeles Clippers (3) vs. Golden State Warriors (6)

Doc Rivers has done a great job with this Clippers team and they should be the favorite in the series, but the Warriors have always taken their game to another level. All it takes is for Stephon Curry to get hot for the Warriors to start winning one, two, maybe three games. I don't know if it is really possible for such a streaky team in the Warriors to go all the way this year, but they could certainly win this series. The Clippers, on the other hand, need to rely on the leadership of Chris Paul and not take any bad shots (ahem, Blake Griffen) in order for them to win. This series is very difficult to predict, showing how fun it will be to watch.

Prediction: Warriors 4-3

Eastern Conference Semi-Finals:

Indiana Pacers (1) vs. Chicago Bulls (4)

Prediction: Pacers 4-2

Miami Heat (2) vs. Brooklyn Nets (6)

Prediction: Nets 4-3

Western Conference Semi-Finals:

San Antonio Spurs (1) vs. Houston Rockets (4)

Prediction: Spurs 4-2

Oklahoma City Thunder (2) vs. Golden State Warriors (6)

Prediction: Thunder 4-3

Eastern Conference Finals:

Indiana Pacers (1) vs. Brooklyn Nets (6)

Prediction: Nets 4-3

Western Conference Finals:

San Antonio Spurs (1) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (2)

Prediction: Spurs 4-3

NBA Finals:

San Antonio Spurs vs. Brooklyn Nets

Prediction: Spurs 4-3

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