It's NBA playoff time and we've reached out to our experts to tell you what they think will happen. Tune in to the NBA Playoffs or tell us what you think might happen this year. Are we close? Are we clueless? One is correct - you determine which.
Champion: Golden State
Finals Matchup: Golden State vs Cleveland Cavs
Western Conference Finals: Warriors vs Houston
Eastern Conference Finals: Cleveland vs Sixers
These predictions are based solely on what I believe will happen, hell no this isn’t what I want to happen. I’d love to see a small market team make a run and take down the heavyweights, but this is the real world, not Hollywood. I think a few teams will be there in a year or two, the Sixers for instance, I think will be a contender soon, just not this year. Wolves should be good but they aren’t, Pelicans are one other scoring option away too I believe (No I do not think Boogie takes them over the edge, they need a playmaker.) Celtics are a team who has caught a lot of tough breaks, the Hayward injury and now the Kyrie injury have in my opinion eliminated them, but I don’t think I would have taken them over the Cavs anyway.
The West is a two team show, and the Rockets just do not have the post season experience needed this year. Next year, maybe they can turn that corner with some success this year. Other than those two, I do not see any real contenders out west. So unfortunately I see another boring playoff finals matchup where the Warriors likely beat the Cavs in 5-6 games. And this folks is why the NBA is virtually unwatchable.
I hate to break it to you, but this year’s NBA playoffs are not going to be very exciting. Which is a tough thing to say, considering the NBA is, in my opinion, the sports league has the world’s best athletes, and demands a combination of athleticism and skill that is unmatched. What I mean when I say the playoffs won’t be very exciting is that I don’t expect many surprises. We’re going to see the same things play out that we’ve seen the past few years: LeBron and the Cavs will turn up their defense and intensity, and LBJ will remind us that he’s still the best player in the league. Toronto, despite having a great record, will look overmatched and flustered against a Cavs team that flipped the switch. In the West, Golden State, despite some injury concerns, will make a run through the tougher conference look like a cake walk. Chris Paul and James Harden will become playoff Chris Paul and James Harden, which unlike playoff LeBron, are far worse than their regular season selves. And once again we’ll have the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors facing each other in the Finals.
Even the surprises or upsets aren’t going to be unexpected. I mean, the Cavs will be a lower seed against the Raptors, but no one will expect them to lose. The Sixers (or should I say the Process) are going to make the Eastern Conference Finals, but when they beat a depleted Celtics team, you won’t hear about it being a great upset. The most unexpected result might be when the Rockets make the Western Conference Finals a close series. It may even go six games! What a shock! After that it’s straight off to the Oracle for another Steph vs. LeBron series. Or is it KD vs. Lebron now? Either way, we’ve seen this before.
The lack of a compelling story through this year’s playoffs is what really has me thinking hard about this prediction. Since all we’re seeing is another repeat of what we’ve already seen, we might as well see the best version of that, a version that will set us up for next year’s playoffs to have one story worth paying attention to. That’s why the Cavs have to win this year. If they even the series between themselves and Golden State at two apiece, LeBron has to stay in Cleveland for one more go at the Warriors to break the tie. And if they win next year, does LeBron walk away at the absolute top, having proved himself against a superteam many have said is the best ever?
Probably not. But it at least gives us a story to care about.
The NBA playoffs, much like the NHL playoffs, are far, far better than the regular season. The intensity is greater, the games actually matter, and the fans are usually more into it. At a minimum, the video packages are much cooler. So it's playoff time, which means a slate of really great basketball, right? Maybe. Maybe not. I see a few blowouts on the horizon. I think the Cavs, Rockets, and Warriors could all sweep their first round series' or at least win 4-1. I think Toronto SHOULD, but will likely win in 6. The most intriguing first round matchup in the East is likely the depleted Celtics vs. the up and coming Bucks. I think the Greek Freak can keep this one close and look for a first round upset. I wouldn't be shocked if this one goes 7. I honestly think the West will go chalk through the first round with the most likely upset being the Pelicans over the Trailblazers. I think with a healthy Cousins, this team could make some noise, but Anthony Davis is still one of the best players in the NBA. Plus there is only one game separating seeds 4-6 so there aren't really any "upsets" there.
I've always liked Carmelo Anthony and when his Knicks teams made the playoffs (maybe that should be singular - did it only happen once?) it was so fun to watch! Linsanity, Carmello - I thought there was a chance. There wasn't. There never has been. I'd love to see The Thunder win it all for Carmello but being upset by the Jazz in the first round wouldn't shock me. If they make it through, I think the Rockets will beat them in 5, 6 at the worst. Golden State will sweep the Blazers/Pelicans winner, setting up a Western Conference Finals of Rockets/Warriors. In the East, I see the Cavs beating Toronto as they did all year - probably in 6 and I think the 76ers will make the Eastern Conference Finals, beating the injured Celtics who squeak past the Bucks. This will set up a 76ers/LeBron matchup everyone wants to see.
In the conference finals, I'm forced to go out on a limb (which is a strange thing to say when you pick a 1 seed) and say the Rockets will finally do something right and take out the defending champions. They certainly have the team to beat the Warriors, but they've also likely had that team before and underperformed. I say CP3 and Harden get it done this year. On the other side, LeBron will be LeBron and they'll oust the young 76ers in 6 and shake hands and LeBron to the 6ers rumors will be abundant. This gives me a Houston/Cavs finals where I'm taking Houston. I think LeBron gets tired by the Finals from carrying his team and the West is so much better than the East just overall. The Rockets finally win one and Harden/CP3 will finally get to taste that gold that has eluded them forever. Look for Houston to lose in the first round vs. the Timberwolves.
That's it for our playoff predictions - let us know who you think will win the championship this year.