Even though the NBA playoffs are approaching quickly, the matchups are still up in the air. With San Antonio leading the pack out West and Indiana clinging to first in the East, the playoffs look like they could be filled with surprises. Here ISH will break down the potential first round series for the NBA Playoffs.
(1)San Antonio Spurs vs. (8)Memphis Grizzlies
The Spurs have played excellently this season, replicating their success from last year and the many years before. With a roster mixed with youth and experience, this team could be the best Spurs team we have seen all decade. Leading the OKC Thunder for 1st in the west seems like a great accomplishment, but the rewards may prove disheartening to the Spurs. Enter the Memphis Grizzlies. A team that plays with so much heart and effort that they could upset anybody. A defensive team with a few low post scoring options to counter Tim Duncan could prove well for the Grizzlies. The Spurs would perhaps be better avoiding the chance to repeat history and fall in the standings between now and the start of the playoffs.
Prediction: Memphis defeats San Antonio 4 – 3
(2) Oklahoma City Thunder vs (7) Phoenix Suns
The Thunder have shown nearly no weakness this year, even with constant injury issues with Russell Westbrook. The Suns may have topped the “exceeding expectations” category for this one, though. The Suns, projected to be the worst team in the NBA by many at the beginning of the season, have been a cinderella story this whole season. With young guards in Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, the Suns have led themselves to a 44-29 record good for the seventh seed out West. This team is much better than a seventh seed though. Their record would have them at 3rd place in the East. Although many people would cheer for this miracle season out in Arizona, the to-be-named MVP is not ready to let that happen. The firepower between Kevin Durant and the OKC Thunder will be too much for the Suns.
Prediction: Oklahoma City defeats Phoenix 4-2
(3) Los Angeles Clippers vs (6) Golden State Warriors
This matchup would be one of the most exciting of all first round series. The offense of CP3 and Blake Griffin vs the pure shooting of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson would be plenty entertaining. Despite being the top team in the NBA at some points in the season, the Clippers would most likely find themselves not wanting to play the Warriors in the first round. After struggling in the first round the past 2 seasons, the Clippers need a first round win this time around. The Warriors would not allow that. This would be a 3 vs 6 seed series that would be looked at like a 4 vs 5 series, as these teams are very evenly matched.
Prediction: Los Angeles defeats Golden State 4-3
(4) Houston Rockets vs (5) Portland Trail Blazers
Both of these elite teams have had great 2013-2014 campaigns so far. Houston’s addition of D12 has proved quite successful, unlike Dwights stop in LA. Portland has caught fire as Damian Lillard has climbed to be one of the top PGs in the NBA. This series would most likely be a “who gets the last shot” game for seven games. Houston would (and should) be the favorite in this one, due to a better supporting cast as well as more experience, but this series would be very entertaining come April.
Prediction: Houston defeats Portland 4-3
(1) Indiana Pacers vs (8) Atlanta Hawks
Indiana has surprised nobody this year, being the only credited challenger of the Heat since last playoffs. One of the deepest and most star studded teams in the league, this 1 seed should not struggle. A devastating injury to Al Horford in the beginning of the year cut Atlanta’s potential this year by a lot, but this team keeps fighting. The heroic play of newly-signed Paul Millsap and consistent shooting of Kyle Korver have kept Atlanta’s playoffs hopes alive. Their hopes may become a reality, but winning a series is a different story. A sweep would not be out of the question in this David vs. Goliath matchup out East.
Prediction: Indiana defeats Atlanta 4-0
(2) Miami Heat vs (7) Charlotte Bobcats
2 years ago, Charlotte was making history of its own while Miami marched its way to the Finals. The historically worst team in NBA history, the Bobcats have shown huge strides of improvement. Playoffs were a dream this offseason, but the MVP-like performance of Al Jefferson has Charlotte headed to the playoffs this season. Some poor play from Miami in 2014 has some fans and critics worried, and a tough defensive team like Charlotte could cause a few headaches for Miami in a 7 game series. While Miami would most likely win this one, don’t be surprised if Charlotte steals a game or two.
Prediction: Miami defeats Charlotte 4-1
(3)Toronto Raptors vs (6) Washington Wizards
Perhaps the 2 most surprising teams this season behind Phoenix, Toronto and Washington have impressed this year. The development of John Wall into a superstar and a quality supporting cast behind him leaves Washington with a winning record and tons to cheer about. The All Star play of Demar DeRozan and All Star like play from Kyle Lowry has Toronto thinking second round this season, their first playoff appearance in 6 years. These two teams would make for an exciting series, as they already were apart of one of the most exciting regular season games this year. Look out for an upset, but right now I would bet on Toronto advancing past this series.
prediction: Toronto defeats Washington 4-2
(4) Chicago Bulls vs (5) Brooklyn Nets
The overachieving Bulls powered by the MVP play of Joakim Noah are really taking the NBA by storm. Proving they do not need Derrick Rose and his weak knees to be a winning team, the Bulls could beat anyone in the East. But if I was going to choose one team they wouldn’t beat, it would be the Brooklyn Nets. Brooklyn started off the season cold as ice and after Brook Lopez went down, the season looked to be lost forever. But the 2014 Nets have proved to be a much different team than the late 2013 Nets, posting a 28 – 12 record in this calendar year (per http://www.sbnation.com/nba/teams/brooklyn-nets). This would be a brutal defensive series, but I would go with the flaming hot Brooklyn Nets in a seven game series.
Predicton: Brooklyn Defeats Chicago 4-3
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