NBA Playoffs Breakdown
As promised, I'm back with a complete analysis and predictions for every NBA postseason matchup. The playoffs start Saturday afternoon, with the Knicks hosting the Celtics in the first game of the day. I correctly picked Louisville to win the NCAAM basketball championship and am hoping that my picks will come to fruition again. Without further ado, here we go.
1 Miami Heat vs 8 Milwaukee Bucks
The Heat reached an astounding 66 wins this year, behind the play of probable MVP Lebron James. With Wade and Bosh by his side, there is no doubt that the Heat will defeat Milwaukee despite Brandon Jennings brash comments. That's a bold statement when your team doesn't even finish the season above .500. In reality, the Heat are a much better team on both sides of the ball, and they should cruise to the second round after a first round sweep. Heat in 4 games.
2 York Knicks vs 7 Boston Celtics
When the Knicks and Celtics get together, you can throw out the records. The Knicks know what Boston did to them last year, and don't want to suffer a similar fate. Boston is without Rajon Rondo, but have been playing surprisingly well without him. Ultimately, I see the Knicks' hot shooting staying hot. Boston just doesn't have enough firepower to match Carmelo Anthony. However, with Boston pride at its highest the Celtics could turn in some magical efforts. The Knicks should win the series in 6 games and advance.
3 Indiana Pacers vs 6 Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks seem to make the playoffs year after year, though they never seem to get anywhere once the postseason begins. The Pacers defense has been outstanding this year, led by Roy Hibbert and Paul George. They should stifle Atlanta, and frustrate Josh Smith. If the Pacers can play the way they have been all year, they'll be looking at a second round series against New York. Pacers in 5.
4 Brooklyn Nets vs 5 Chicago Bulls
At this point, Derrick Rose is not coming back. Bulls fans have to move on and support the team they have now. According to ESPN, Joakim Noah is uncertain to play in the first game in Brooklyn. Without Noah, the Bulls role players will have to step up to guard Brooklyn's superior offense. Because the Nets have more talent than the Bulls (Deron Williams, Joe Johnson), and a center in Brook Lopez that's not afraid to challenge opposing big men, the Nets should survive the first round. Nets in 6.
1 Oklahoma City Thunder vs 8 Houston Rockets
James Harden's return to OKC is one of the more intriguing storylines of the first round. We all know he's a dynamic player that can score at will, but Durant could score toe-to-toe with him. Though I'm not saying that the Thunder got the better of the Harden deal, they are still a much better team than Houston and should get through the round easily. Thunder win in 5.
2 San Antonio Spurs vs 7 Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers 8-1 April record earned them a 7 seed and a favorable matchup against the Spurs. With the advantage of avoiding the Thunder, the Kobe-less Lakers could present problems for the Spurs. Though Steve Blake has been playing at a high level, Steve Nash's health is still an issue. The Spurs should have Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili healthy at the same time, and playing well together. I've been doubting the Lakers all year, and still can't see them getting the upset. Spurs in 7 games in a closer than usual 2-7 matchup.
3 Denver Nuggets vs 6 Golden State Warriors
The Nuggets have a 38-3 home record and home court advantage in the series against the Warriors. The teams matchup well in terms of speed, shooting, and lack of defense. The Nuggets will miss wing man Danilo Gallinari and the Warriors should take advantage of the injury. I truly believe that Mark Jackson and Stephen Curry can implement a gameplan to defeat the Nuggets. The Warriors will prove they are ready for the big time, upsetting the Denver Nuggets in 6 games.
4 Los Angeles Clippers vs 5 Memphis Grizzlies
In a contrast of styles, the high flying Clippers will take on the defensive minded Grizzlies. Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan will have to match the consistency of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph all series long. With MVP candidate Chris Paul running the show for LA, they'll continue to score in large numbers. Though they may not be 'the' team in LA, the Clippers should pull off a first round victory against the Grizz. Clippers will win in 6 games.
1 Heat vs 4 Nets
I can't see Miami going out before the Conference Finals, so unfortunately for Brooklyn, they draw the top squad in the league. Lebron James severely wants another championship ring and I don't doubt his will to win. The Heat should again cruise to victory, defeating the Nets in 5 games.
2 Knicks vs 3 Pacers
They've played each other close all year but there are a few question marks that could decide the series. First off, it will be very interesting to see how Mike Woodson handles a possible return of Knicks' forward Amare Stoudemire. They've been playing so well without Stoudemire that I don't see him returning without altering the team drastically. Second, if Tyson Chandler isn't fully healthy by this series, Roy Hibbert and David West will destroy the Knicks interior or lack of it. I expect Chandler to be fully healthy against Indiana, and see the Knicks winning in 6 games.
1 Thunder vs 4 Clippers
These teams flat out don't like each other. When they played back in March, the game had a real postseason feel to it. The Thunder definitely want to get back to the NBA Finals after under-performing against Miami last year. Durant and Westbrook will figure out how to play together in the playoffs and prove too much for CP3 and Griffin. Thunder will win in 6 games.
2 Spurs vs 6 Warriors
At first glance, the Spurs trump Golden State in experience and coaching. On paper, the series won't be very close. The Warriors performance in the series will prove why they play the games. The Warriors' speed is a serious advantage over the Spurs' tired legs, and with a good percentage from 3-point range, the Warriors will pull off the upset in 7.
1 Heat vs 2 Knicks
As good as a 1-2 matchup can be, the series will be hotly contested all throughout. The Knicks already defeated Miami three times this season, shutting down Lebron and Wade. If Carmelo Anthony continues his scorching play, the Knicks could definitely win. It's tough for me to say New York won't reach the Finals, but it's even tougher for me to realistically say that Miami will fail to reach the NBA finals. Miami will return to the NBA Finals as predicted all year. New York will return with a vengeance next year. Miami wins in 6 games.
1 Thunder vs 6 Warriors
The Warriors magical run will halt when they take on the Thunder. OKC has the defense to stick with Golden State's quick guards. Russell Westbrook will undoubtedly play well for the Thunder, though he'll take a ton of shots doing it. Durant has to prove that OKC is his team, and he should be able to do it against a lackluster defense. The Thunder return to the finals, defeating the Warriors in 5 games.
Heat vs Thunder
Call me a front-runner, but there's a reason these teams had the best regular season records in their respective conference. Contrary to popular belief, a repeat is just what the NBA needs. Showcasing the NBA's top two players in James and Durant in the finals will be the perfect way to set up a rivalry for the next 7-8 years. The Thunder didn't challenge Miami last year, though part of that was the poor play of James Harden. Harden is obviously no longer with the team, and this will make a big difference. What I'm expecting is that the Heat will walk into the finals without a hiccup and could underestimate the Thunder. If Westbrook can play to the level he did in last year's NBA Finals, the Thunder could pull off an upset to give Durant his first title. The Thunder will win the Championship in 7 games.
Every series has the chance to be an exciting one and I'm looking to forward to catching as many games as I can. If the Thunder can win the title as I'm projecting, I'll walk away a genius. You can take your shot at predicting the NBA Finals by commenting below. As always, follow ESPN Binghamton as the playoffs continue.