NBA Playoff Preview 2014
After a long, long season, the 2014 NBA playoffs are finally upon us and we are able to preview each matchup. This year, we are faced with the bleak possibility that we may only get one competitive series in the entire Eastern Conference (which is further proof as to why we need to fix the NBA playoffs). Things could not be further different in the West, as each matchup (even in the first round) is a potential blockbuster worthy of the conference finals. And despite the fact I went 8 from 8 in last year’s playoff preview, don’t expect me to do any better than .500 this year. So without further ado, let the fuckups predictions begin!
San Antonio Spurs vs. Dallas Mavericks
These teams remind me of each other in so many different ways. Dirk is at this stage (at least on the offensive end) similar to Parker and Duncan, and then both Dallas and San Antonio are made up of veterans who are willing to sacrifice minutes and production to fit into a proven system. The difference is depth and age for San Antonio (Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard and Patty Mills are all younger than any key players on the Mavs), as well as the complexity of the Popovich system should spell a short series for San Antonio, but Dallas can compete with this team. If Dirk is the best player on the court and Carter, Marion and Ellis contribute, then it’s not out of the realm of possibility for Dallas to shock the world. I just don’t see it happening. Spurs win 4-1.
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Memphis Grizzlies
Last season, I predicted the Grizzlies to beat Oklahoma City before the playoffs started and Westbrook got injured, and I stood behind that. The difference this season is Durant. When Westbrook went down, Durant stepped up and posted 31 PPG, 9 RPG and 6.3 APG and really kick started his soon-to-be MVP campaign this season. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph will be a matchup concern with any team, but Oklahoma has enough big bodies to slow them down. Tony Allen can make Durant work, but Westbrook and Reggie Jackson should get whatever they want against this Memphis backcourt. Both teams can make life difficult for what the other team wants to do, so it comes down to who is more likely to overcome that. I trust Durant and Westbrook more at this stage, and Oklahoma wins 4-2.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Golden State Warriors
This series has blockbuster written all over it. There is so much on the line, from the legacy of Chris Paul and Doc Rivers to the hunger of Steph Curry and Mark Jackson. These two teams are at very different stages, but both need the same thing and are in each other’s way. There is no way this should be a first round matchup, but it is, so let’s enjoy it. The Bogut rib injury could be significant, but he’s a tough S.O.B. so don’t be surprised if he returns prematurely to help out. His absence will be missed, especially on the boards. I expect Golden State to go small with Lee, Iggy, Barnes, Thompson and Curry, but that could be a potential disaster with Jordan crashing the boards. There’s a lot of scoring there though, and some expectations for The Warriors to live up to based off last year’s playoff run. If the Warriors had a healthy Bogut, I would pick them without hesitation, but the truth is he’s not. I’ll stick with them, just because I’m not sold on The Clippers abilities to adjust and overcome their discrepancies. Golden State wins 4-2.
Houston Rockets vs. Portland Trailblazers
Remember when Portland was 24-5 and I questioned just how good are the Trail Blazers? Well from that point on, they were barely above .500 (30-23) and slipped to the 5th seed in the West. The positive is every team woke up to Portland and didn’t underestimate them: we saw some really good teams play their best against the Blazers and Portland had to raise their game. This is a young squad, and they had many close (and heartbreaking) games in that period that will have prepared them for the playoffs. They will be facing Houston that have championship aspirations, so this too should be an amazing series. Portland has depth and balance, and Houston completely over relies on Harden and Howard. I think if Portland doesn’t implode (which they have done at times this season) they should win. This series might come down to officiating coaching, and I don’t have a whole lot of faith in Terry Stotts, but I will go with them still: Portland wins 4-2.
Indiana Pacers vs. Atlanta Hawks
The Pacers slow down after the trade for Evan Turner (something I kind of predicted when the Trade Deadline passed) may have been nothing more than Indiana shifting into cruise control in order to get healthy and ready for the playoffs. Let’s be completely honest here: The Hawks do not deserve to be in the post-season, and this will be a bloodbath. Indy wins 4-0.
Miami Heat vs. Charlotte Bobcats
Remember when you guys laughed at me at the start of the season when I picked Charlotte to make the playoffs? Yeah, about that… Look, The Bobcats have the type of team that can compete with Miami: They have a good low post scorer in Jefferson, a quick playmaking guard in Walker, and some athletic perimeter defenders in Kidd-Gilchrist and Henderson. The only problem is they don’t have nearly the skill to really push Miami, and we could even see the Heat rest Wade during the series. Miami wins 4-1
Toronto Raptors vs. Brooklyn Nets
Out of all the East matchups, this is the one I’m actually half excited for. You have a young, athletic Raptors team against a wise, veteran led Nets squad who seem to be obsessed with playing Miami in the playoffs (so much so that it looked like they tanked to get the 6th seed so they could potentially meet them in the second round). I think the Raptors have a great future, but this will be a baptism by fire and they won’t survive. Brooklyn wins 4-2.
Chicago Bulls vs Washington Wizards
There are quite a few young and talented teams in the East that are a few years away from really competing for it all, and Washington definitely fits that description. This will be a super competitive series, but not for the casual fan. Points will be at a premium, but despite Chicago’s experience, I don’t think they have enough scoring to get them over the hump. This is John Wall’s opportunity to shine on the national stage, and I think he’ll surprise quite a few people. This series will go the distance, and I have Washington winning 4-3