Another year, another playoffs. I wrote a week ago that I was excited about the playoffs in the NHL and well, there’s no reason not be as excited in the NBA. The win or go home atmosphere is always great and this year promises to be even better.
This year we don’t have a team that is poised to be unbeatable the way Miami seemed to be last year (it turned out they also weren’t; losing to San Antonio in the Finals) despite Golden State historical regular season record.
I don’t know if youth won’t be a factor to hinder the Warriors on their way to their second NBA title in history, but that’ something to be discussed later.
Right now, let’s talk about the ongoing first round. I know some series have teams with a two games lead already, but I don’t think I should let this stop me from analyzing the match ups.
Atlanta Hawks vs. Brooklyn Nets: This one should be a no brainer. Atlanta was by far the team with the best record in the East and Brooklyn managed to get the eight spot from Miami in the last game. Yesterday Al Horford hurt his finger but this shouldn’t be a problem. They were deservedly nicknamed “the Spurs from the East” due to the way they share the ball. The Hawks already won two at home and should swipe the series. Atlanta 4-0.
Toronto Raptors vs. Washington Wizards: We can say that this series is the first big surprise. Toronto has a good team and so does Washington. However, the Wizards played like they did when they were cruising in the Eastern conference. JohnWall and Bradley Beal dominated the second game while Toronto played very badly. I never saw this coming, I was expecting a 7 game series, but I think we’ll have another sweep. Washington 4-0.
Chicago Bulls vs. Milwaukee Bucks: Jason Kidd deserves all accolades for what he did with the Milwaukee Bucks. He managed to make players like Antetokounmpo, Carter-Williams, Mayo and Parker play on their limit and that’s why they got into the playoffs. However, they face a resilient and driven Bulls team, brilliantly coached by Tom Thibodeau. With coach Thibodeau Chicago always has a tough defense and this year they have the bonus of an almost 100% healthy Derrick Rose. Everybody feared for their season when he injured his knee again, but thankfully it was not so serious. With Derrick playing well, plus Gasol, Noah, Gibson and Butler they might be Eastern Conference title contenders and they will sweep the Bucks. Chicago 4-0.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics: The difference in talent between the two teams is enormous. However, Boston comes to the series with absolutely no responsibility as nobody thought they would even be able to get into the playoffs. The burden of playing well is all on the other side. Add to that the potential this Cavs team has of kind of blacking out in the middle of the game (like it happened on Game 2) and maybe we might have some competition. But even so, LeBron, Irving, Love and even Mozgov shouldn’t have a problem in sweeping the Celtics. I’ll say one thing though: every Bostonian should be proud of this team and the future looks bright. Cleveland 4-0.
Golden State Warriors vs. New Orleans Pelicans: I’ll tell you what: I felt so sorry for the Pelicans on Monday. Especially for Anthony Davis, who was overwrought at the end of the game. They played their hearts out, with such resilience and passion that it was touching to see and I’m pretty sure that everybody watching at the Big Easy felt proud of them. And head-coach Monty Williams also did everything he could. But they are facing a gargantuan ungrateful task. The Warriors are undisputedly the best team in the world right now. Can someone stop the Splash Brothers? Andrew Bogut is playing well and even Barbosa coming from the bench. This team might lose only to a rather experienced team playing very well. Otherwise they are on their way to the title. As I had a soft spot in my heart for everything New Orleans I’ll say they manage to win one at home. But that will be it. Golden State 4-1.
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Portland Trail-Blazers: The Western Conference is really trickier and this series is one of the most difficult. If you look at Portland’s roster they have a wealth of talent. But the loss of Wesley Matthews seems to be hurting them a lot. The Grizzlies are a tough team and they have Marc Gasol in a wonderful season, Tony Allen, Jeff Green and Mike Conley playing very well and Zebo better than he ever was. Will Lillard, Aldridge and Batum manage to overcome the lost of Matthews and move on? My guess is that they can win two games, but not more. Memphis 4-2.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. San Antonio Spurs: Oh my God, another one rather difficult. And the fact that my heart is involved (I’m a Spurs fan) don’t make it any easier. The Spurs were beaten to a pulp in the first game. CP3 and Blake Griffin demolished San Antonio. Actually, Chis Paul had one of his best performances of the season. And Deandre Jordan managed to get some free-throws right. And JJ Reddick is playing very well and Crawford is a great sixth-man. However, we are talking about the Spurs here. They are the current NBA champions, have one of the best head-coaches EVER and I doubt they will play as bad as they did on the first game. Tough, very tough guessing here. I’m going with my heart and bet on the best series of the postseason and a Spurs victory. Spurs 4-3.
Houston Rockets vs. Dallas Mavericks: This is a local battle, so it involves a lot of rivalry. Of course, Houston has a huge advantage due to a simple thing: they got James Harden, who is one of the three candidates for MVP of the season. And they got a good coach in Kevin McHale and Harden has help from Trevor Ariza. Terrence Jones, Josh Smith and, if healthy, Dwight Howard. Plus some good help from Jason Terry and Corey Brewer coming from the bench. The Mavericks rely heavily on Dirk Nowitzki, maybe too heavily. He’s no spring chicken and I don’t think he’ll be able to carry them the way he did in 2011. Stoudemire is not 100% healthy and Tyson Chandler is playing good, but I don’t think that’s enough. Houston 4-1.
See you in the conference semis.
Scorpions – Return to Forever
Primordial – Where Greater Men Have Fallen
Walter Trout – The Blues Came Callin’
The Temperance Movement – s/t
Jurassic Park: Lost World and Jurassic Park III (Blu-Ray)
The Devil in the White City – Erik Larson
Be sure to check out my book “Straight And Lethal” winner of the NABE Pinnacle Awards 2014 Fall edition.
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