NBA Playoffs begin with a bang
By Tim Rey
The NBA playoffs this season have been a great blend of the expected and unexpected. The sweep of the Celtics by the Cavs was predicted by many but the series of the Nets and Hawks, the 1 seed vs the 8 seed, is tied 2-2. Let’s dive into the East and then the West and go through some recaps and predictions.
Hawks (1) vs Nets (8)
Prediction: Hawks in seven
This series has many different storylines, such as the fall and subsequent emergence of Deron Williams along with the struggle of a Hawks team trying to prove they deserve the number one seed. After Deron Williams missed a shot to tie the game in game two and finished with only two points.
He bounced back in a massive way in game four, pouring in 35 points in an OT win to tie the series.
As for the the remainder of the series, it will likely go seven games. Brooklyn has bounced back to play good basketball but is still an inconsistent team and does not have the firepower to beat the Hawks, no matter how much they are struggling.
Toronto (4) vs Washington (5)
Cleveland (2) vs Boston (7)
Series: Washington and Cleveland in four
Despite these series’ both ending in a sweep, the two losing teams are in completely different positions. Boston has a young coach in Brad Stevens and a core filled with a lot of raw young talent and draft picks.
However Toronto is a team filled with players that don’t have much direction and a coaching change is likely to follow. The winning teams, Cleveland and Washington, are both filled talented players and both look like a possible championship contenders.
Chicago (3) vs Milwaukee (6)
Prediction: Chicago in six
This is an interesting series because Chicago came out flying in the first three games and a sweep looked eminent. But Milwaukee has come back to win the next two, even winning one in Chicago. Despite these losses, Chicago has a strong veteran coach in Tom Thibodeau and unbelievable talent in Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol.
Portland (4) vs Memphis (5)
Houston (2) vs Dallas (7)
Series: Houston in five
Prediction: Memphis in five
These series are similar because they will both end in five games. Dallas won one game at home but the trio of James Harden, Dwight Howard and Josh Smith led Houston over Dallas, at home.
Dallas has won a game since the season ending injuries to Rajon Rondo and Chandler Parsons, and Coach Carlisle has said that Rondo will not be in a Mavericks uniform in 2016.
Memphis has been beating Portland around in the post. The combination of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol has been beating and battering Portland’s suspect interior defense. Damian Lillard has done his best to keep the Blazers afloat but Lamarcus Aldridge hasn’t played up to his potential.
San Antonio (6) vs Clippers (3)
Prediction: San Antonio in six
The Clippers are arguably the most talented team in the league. Stars like Chris Paul and Blake Griffin have been leading the team since early in the regular season, however, their bench plays very shaky and is inconsistent. Game 4, for example, was a breakout performance for Austin Rivers and featured a strong contribution from Jordan Crawford.
The Clippers can be very inconsistent and because of this, the consistent and veteran Spurs, led by Coach Popovich, will close out at home.
They have the old horses such as Tim Duncan, who at 39, is still playing at an All-Star rate or Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, paired with Leonard, who is a budding star, a player who looks to be an MVP in the future.
Golden State (1) vs New Orleans (8)
Series: Golden State in four
This will be a quick report because this series was never in doubt. The Warriors are loaded and are not lacking a single piece to the puzzle. MVP candidate Stephen Curry is locked in and looks bound to lead his team through a deep Western Conference. New Orleans has a lot to look forward to, in a big way, because of Anthony Davis. He was a beast and did his best to combat the multi-layered attack of the Warriors, but he’ll need a better supporting cast if the Pelicans hope to contend in the future.
The NBA playoffs are off to a blazing start, with more great basketball sure to come.
Peter Santo also contributed to this report