1 San Antonio Spurs over 8 Utah Jazz 4-0
I see this as an easy series for San Antonio to start the playoffs. There’s no upset in the waiting this year. This Jazz team is not the Grizzlies despite their large amount of size in the post. The Spurs are the better team and Coach Pop might rest players somewhere at the end of the series depending on how the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers series. Coach Pop, I believe, does not want to rest his players too much. He wants them in top gear especially after last year’s debacle. The Utah Jazz have plenty to look forward to next year especially if they can steal a game with the Spurs at full strength.
2 Oklahoma Thunder over 7 Dallas Mavericks 4-1
This Western Conference Finals rematch from a year ago will end differently this go around. The Mavs have lost their defensive identity and toughness with the absence of Tyson Chandler. This appears to be a Dirk-led time like any other year that only ends in a first round loss. The Thunder have another year of playoff experience and Durant and Westbrook look hungrier than ever. Harden’s concussion will be a concern early on but despite that I see the Thunder prevailing rather easily.
3 Los Angeles Lakers over 6 Denver Nuggets 4-2
The Lakers were starting to hit their stride when the much talked about elbow made contact. The Lakers have the edge here because of Bynum’s development this year and #24. The Nuggets are interesting team after the trade for McGee. They are loaded with rotation players but no superstars or all-stars, which appears to be the formula to win an NBA title. This will however been an entertaining, high-scoring series. Ultimately, the Nuggets win two games because of their depth and possibly another when Bryant has an awful shooting day and keeps chucking it up.
5 Los Angeles Clippers over 4 Memphis Grizzlies 4-3
Last year’s darling just got back Randolph and need to incorporate him into the playoff rotation nicely. I see the Clippers’ star power taking out the Grizzlies. I see CP3 torching Conley and if they can get out on fast breaks consistently I see the Clippers ending this series earlier.
Western Conference Semi-Finals
5 Clippers over the 1 San Antonio Spurs 4-3
The Clippers pull off the upset in the second round. A Chris Paul-led team failed to beat the Spurs in the playoffs earlier in his career. CP3 will relish this and enjoy going to the WCF. I see Blake Griffin and Caron Butler as the huge x-factors and putting up huge numbers. Kawhi Leonard is going to shrink and Captain Jack will take more minutes where Butler will outplay them both, I believe.
2 Oklahoma City Thunder over 3 Los Angeles Lakers 4-2
The recent game would have ended differently I think if Harden been allowed to get back into the game. He would have been the difference down the stretch as he will be in this series. World Peace can only check one man at a time and I don’t see Barnes and World Peace on the floor at the same time because then Kobe will be the primarily ball handler and I don’t think Coach Brown wants that. The Thunder reach the conference finals again and this time want to go to the NBA Finals.
Western Conference Finals
2 Oklahoma City Thunder over 5 Los Angeles Clippers 4-2
The Clippers had a great season and I see it coming to an end here. Chris Paul is physically outmatched and I believe Durant will put 30 consistently this series as there is no one to really guard him well. Ibaka will do a great job on Blake and make him shoot the mid-range jumper. The Clippers will really miss what Billups can offer in this series.
1 Chicago Bulls over 8 Philadelphia 76ers 4-1
Evan Turner has lit a fire under the Bulls and that wasn’t a good idea. This team does not scare the Bulls like the Knicks whether the Bulls like to admit it or not. Rose’s health will be key but ultimately I see the Bulls prevailing and getting rest for Rose.
2 Miami Heat over 7 New York Knicks 4-2
This is will be the most entertaining and story line filled series. Carmelo vs. LeBron. The Heat will lose two games because Amare will dominate the Heat bigs and defer when double-teamed. When you’re deferring to the likes of J.R. Smith, Carmelo, and even Baron Davis, it will harbinger good results. The Heat will lose another game because of the poor shooting and too much contribution from Wade and James will be expected to win that game and it won’t happen.
3 Indiana Pacers over 6 Orlando Magic 4-0
This is a clean sweep waiting to happen. The Magic are without their best player and need hot shooting to stay in this series. I don’t see it happening and I see the Pacers getting much needed rest in this short season and preparing themselves for the Miami Heat.
4 Boston Celtics over the 5 Atlanta Hawks 4-2
The Celtics are primed to make one last playoff run with their big three and Rondo. Ultimately this comes down to the Celtics being playoff tested and having arguably the best coach in the league who makes some of the best in-game adjustments. The Hawks are slowly becoming the Mavs of the east with their early playoff exits.
Eastern Conference Semi-Finals
4 Boston Celtics over 1 Chicago Bulls 4-2
Rose will not be 100% healthy and this will be the Achilles heel in this series for the Bulls. The Celtics will deliver their playoff D and the Bulls will struggle to make shots with Rose’s drives. This will be a fun series to watch for defensive purposes and for the fact that the Bulls and Celtics had arguably the best first round series ever a few years ago.
3 Indiana Pacers over 2 Miami Heat 4-3
The Pacers have always given the Heat problems and this will be magnified in this second round. The Pacers might have the best 1-7 on their roster in the league. They have toughness, size, and good shot making ability that doesn’t rely on the 3. This will be the best playoff series of the year.
Eastern Conference Finals
3 Indiana Pacers over the 4 Boston Celtics 4-2
The Bulls and Heat liked their seedings because they avoided a rival and a bad match up. They both lose in this scenario and off-season questions will mount. The Pacers will win this because of three things. The Celtics will become gassed, Hibbert and West will get all the boards with Garnett at the 5. An unlikely ECF comes to an end and the big three share a special moment at game six knowing it is their last together.
2 Oklahoma City Thunder over the Indiana Pacers 4-2
The Thunder have one of the game’s best shot makers and length that will ultimately doom the Pacers. The nice run by the Pacers comes to an end and Durant gets his first ring to the collection.
The Pacers feel good about this year. The Heat will serious consider a coaching change and possibly moving Bosh. The Bulls are all tied up with their money and will say a playoff run with a healthy Rose will make the difference and a full year of Rose and Hamilton playing together.