The NBA Playoffs are more than underway now and so far in this brief entrance to the post-season, everything has gone exactly how we expected to. The Warriors took both at home, Chicago is jogging by the Bucks, and Houston is handling the Texas rodeo. Perhaps the only surprising thing is that at this point if everything continued how it’s gone, everyone would get swept. I have high doubts for that being that the Clips and Spurs should definitely split a couple and I doubt the Blazers will go down speechless. I would say the same for the Raptors, but the Wiz Show is balling with Wall and the trash talk has seemed to give them a purpose.
Golden State 2 – New Orleans 0
I’m not sure how many people actually believe that Steve Kerr and his deep squad will win the Larry O’Brien trophy, but it seems likely that they will get out of this series alive. The degree of the victories is nothing substantial but the ending score does not tell the true tale of the game. In game one, the Warriors led by 18 going into the fourth quarter and the subs started to grab rest minutes. In game two they got better each quarter as their defense, an unsung hero of this team, forced the Pelicans to score less points in after each one. They only gave up 35 points in the entire second half, after allowing 52 in the first. Needless to say that alongside the sharpest of offenses they also play some of the best D in the league.
The Pelicans have shown some great potential in this series but just can’t seem to get all the gears turning in unison. The defense has been there to keep them in the ball games but the offense is shaky and they don’t seem to have a concrete plan in scoring on the Warriors. In game one they took advantage of the Anthony Davis mismatch, as they most definitely should, and he dropped 35 to make it close at the end. They went back to him in game two and he even played 45 minutes but they did not go to him with the same efforts as Eric Gordon tried to steal the show. The Peli’s are gonna need to make more of this mismatch with AD and when eh gets locked up, his teammates need to be ready. If Gordon can produce more efficiently on offense (do something besides hitting 5/10 threes) while The Brow is doing his thing then they can surely snag one away from Golden State, especially now that they’re heading home. If it weren’t for getting the eighth seed, I’d see this team getting out of the first. For sure in the East. It’s just a pretty tall order to stop the possible MVP for this season, who can make a bucket out of a broken play.
Prediction: Warriors in 5
Atlanta 1 – Brooklyn 0
A two possession win isn’t exactly the most reassuring feeling when you are a number one seed battling a team that wasn’t in the playoffs until the last day of the season. The only thing that Atlanta can brag about or be proud of right now is that Mike Budenholzer snagged his first NBA Coach of the Year award.
Atlanta had a hot first quarter in game one and just traded off points from there. This is not a strategy that is going to keep them in the postseason very long, and it will certainly not earn them a sweep in the first round. The Nets have vets and not just any ones. They have the ones with playoff experience that are still championship chasing like D. Will and J.J. who can take over any game whenever they’re feeling up to it. Along with that they have some young guns with athleticism and drive to back them up. To win this series, the Hawks can’t let these guys hang around in games like they did in the first. They have to win 15 more for a ring and from my non-credible understanding, it’s beneficial to do that in the least games possible.
The Hawks have talent at every spot on the floor. They can shoot outside and score inside. The Nets can only hope to play well enough all-around defense to force the Hawks into a poor shooting percentage. This is the only way to really defeat them since their team doesn’t revolve around any one or two players.
Prediction: Atlanta in 5
Houston 2 – Dallas 0
The Houston Rockets have scored 229 points in their first two playoff games this season, an average of about 29 per quarter. Houston in this strong offensive demonstration has not scored less than 23 in a single quarter and they have dropped as much as 34. The Beard is doing what he does best and his teammates are turning it on just in time for this geographic rivalry. He of course led the way in scoring to kickoff the team’s postseason with 24 but somehow six other Rockets joined him in double scoring. Even that guy who looks just like the old Magic player Dwight Howard got going in game two with 28 and 12 to break out of his shell. On top of this Josh Smith is dishing out multiple lobs to him?!
The way this Houston offense looks, I just want to see them play the Warriors already. The only chance Dallas has is to use that home court advantage to quiet it down. It doesn’t help them that Rondo is having Rondo issues and Parsons is conveniently hurt when they need him most. If they can somehow hold this Houston team under 100 points then anything is possible, but that’s not a likely story.
Prediction: Houston in 5
Cleveland 2 – Boston 0
Given that they will have such a smooth road to the conference finals and a pretty good chance of winning that series as well, it may be another year for Lebron. Funny if it works out in one of the few seasons where he hasn’t taken the MVP trophy but we still have to see. He, K-Love, and Kyrie are playing absolutely phenomenal basketball right now against a team that is very underrated in its own right. Let’s just see if Lebron can last all of the way. We have seen him show some signs of weakness after the first 82 games of the year are over.
Boston should just try to enjoy this series as much as they can and maybe try to steal a home game. This is a great opportunity for their very young and inexperienced roster to gain some playoff savvy.
Prediction: Cavs in 4
Clippers 1 – San Antonio 0
Now this is the one that I feel is going to be the most exciting out of this first round given the Spurs usual late in the season antics and the Clippers inabilities in the early rounds. I thought surely if San Antonio took game one they would walk away, but that circumstance went out the door so this will truly be a test. Most people gave the Clippers a death sentence when they drew the defending champs but I tend think the opposite as this is an opportunity. Defeating the Spurs in round one almost makes a team invincible in the rest of their games. If the Clips can beat them, they can beat anyone. To knock them out early would truly make their path easier, because we all know that this isn’t a regular sixth seed. It’s going to be a larger matter of whether or not LA can play well in SA, where the big three don’t lose many games.
Losing by 15 is something that I am eager to see Greggy Popp respond to. (Oh and yes that’s right, I do call him that because it emasculates him, which invokes great irony since he is the manliest out there.) We know for sure that he will come out with the necessary adjustments for his team and the keys to stopping such a rounded and athletic team. He is going to need TP for sure, but we don’t know how solid he will be after Pacquiao-ing the other night. I’ll spare you the memes because they are blown out now. Every year we count the Spurs out and they prove us wrong, but something seems more secure about this year. The big three could be saying goodbye to ring chasing in their careers if they don’t act fast.
Prediction: Clippers in 6
Chicago 2 – Milwaukee 0
Event though this matchup may be as useless as a screen door on a submarine, I’m going to say it’s my favorite because it’s the only one that features two animal mascots. I like the idea of a Bull versus a Buck rather than a Warrior fighting some big-billed bird or a horse coming into contact with a missile. But when it comes to the actual basketball, this matchup is boring and making its way to the books. I know I sound crazy counting them out this hard this early, especially with the small margins of victory that the Bulls have had, but they simply will not lose to them. The Bulls are a team that I hold higher than Atlanta at this given time with the way that D-Rose is contributing and they are really the only ones I can see derailing the Cavs. If things turn out the way they’re going now, they will be playing Lebron and company next week or so.
Chicago is not the same team that they were last year where they could stop you from scoring any buckets, but relied on the likes of Nate Robinson or DJ Augustine for theirs. They have now sacrificed some defensive aspects for a better offensive approach with guys like Pau and Jimmy Butler leading the way. D-rose truly provides an X-Factor to that approach because he is just like a box of chocolates. I don’t have to explain that right? He has caught heat at the perfect time for his team and their balance of offense and defense has given the squad a whole different platform to play.
Jason Kidd deserves the most props for what he has done this season, especially without their number one pick Jabari Parker. He has shown that he can coach this league, as long as his players aren’t former teammates or guys that used to dunk on him back in the day. He has really taken these young guys to the next level and next year I would undoubtedly expect even more growth next year, but this is their stop for this postseason. Allow me just to summarize the series for you with just one play.
Prediction: Bulls in 5
Memphis 1 – Portland 0
This is one that we can’t exactly speak on yet. Memphis did walk away with their first victory by 14 points, but we know that the Blazers aren’t going to accept a similar outcome in the next couple games. Memphis got ahead quick and stayed there never looking back, sealing the first half 58-39. Both the offense and defense were working overtime for this talented Memphis club and it really paid off for them in game one. To continue this success, they have to do exactly what they did and play team basketball, even if that meant hat Beno Udrih has to lead the team with 20 points. The Blazers have talent in good positions so it can’t be a hero kind of game. The Bears had four players with 15+ points in the game for a total of 67 of their 100 points.
Look, all stats aside both these teams are obviously very good. The Blazers just aren’t playing the best ball right now as they are still trying to shake off the rust they accumulated late in the season. Don’t forget that this so-called 4th seed has a record that would actually make them 7th in the West. Thank goodness for weak divisions I guess, but hasn’t seemed to do the Blazers too many favors yet getting them this tough matchup. If the Blazers want to win this series, they are really going to have to erupt and break from this funk by the time they head to Portland.
Prediction: Grizzlies in 6
Wizards 2 – Raptors 0
This may very well be the only matchup that is surprising in that the Wizards were heavily slumping just before getting to this spot and the Raptors seemed to be likely victors. The page has completely flipped now as this is the only matchup where an away team has won and they won both! Now they get to go home for two potentially series clinching games. The dominos are getting in line for this mysteriously driven Wizards team, and although it isn’t too late, it’ll be tough to keep them standing. At least this series has proven to be vastly entertaining and stomach turning with that OT finish.
Maybe it was the trash talk that Brad Beal heard but he and J. Wall have been absolutely unstoppable. They combined for 54 in game two and oh yeah, Wall had 17 assists to go with it. The first match against this Toronto team ended closely in extra time but this second victory was quite handedly under the 117 points on the scoreboard. Going just matchup-to-matchup you have to give the edge to this Washington team, but Toronto overall usually plays better ball. They’ll need to start doing that fast, but it wont be a cake walk when you don’t won your home games.
Toronto is going to have to rely on some of their depth to step up in this time of need and play some lock-down defense. 117 points is absolutely unacceptable and allowing 71 of the points to come in two quarter is even more profound. This last game really set the tone from the series in its high scoring fashion, after a such a quiet yet exciting first game, and it is going to be in the hands of the Raptors to decide whether or not they will control the game. If you let John Wall control the game, be ready for a marathon and a half.
Prediction: Washington in 5