NBA Playoff Predictions Update
Who would have honestly thought that after 2 games being played in each series, the only 3 teams to be up 2-0 are the Wizards, Heat and Blazers? With every matchup competitive and lots of surprises so far, let’s have an (updated) look at each series and check out how wrong (or right) I was with my initial predictions.
Indiana Pacers vs Atlanta Hawks
Original prediction: Pacers in 4
Revised prediction: Pacers in 6
Where do I begin with this? I’ve written a lot about how disappointed I’ve been with the Pacers in the post season. To their credit, they did step up in the second half of game 2, but they are still under performing. They need to get either game 3 or game 4 in Atlanta, otherwise they could be in dire straits again. If they go down 3-1 (even to Atlanta), I don’t think they have the confidence or chemistry to win 3 straight elimination games. I think they’ll squeak past the Hawks, but that’s only because Atlanta is a pretty weak playoff team. The only way I’ll take the Pacers seriously again is if they start playing well, and running off 3 straight to close this series would be a good start. I don’t think they’ll quite do that, but they’ll win in 6.
Miami Heat vs Charlotte Bobcats
Original prediction: Heat in 5
Revised predication: No change.
The Bobcats are a high energy team, but their mental toughness to go into Miami and play their game and not be intimidated by the defending champs has been impressive. The injury to Al Jefferson has been significant, but they’re still scratching and clawing. Miami has to be ruthless to end this series in Carolina, but they really haven’t shown much killer instinct over the years. I think Charlotte will win a game, but that will be it.
Toronto Raptors vs Brooklyn Nets
Original prediction: Nets in 6
Revised prediction: No change.
So far, this series has gone according to plan for the Nets. They got the win they needed in game 1, and despite a shocking performance by Paul Peirce in game 2, they were right there to take that game. I honestly don’t think they care that they let that game slip, because I don’t think they think that Toronto can beat them on their home court. It could get interesting, but the war horses in Brooklyn know what they’re doing. The home team will win every game, and the Nets will close it out in 6.
Washington Wizards vs Chicago Bulls
Original prediction: Wizards in 7
Revised prediction: Wizards in 6
Even though I picked the Wizards to win, I’m surprised they took both games in Chicago. The Bulls depth has looked non-existent this series and Washington has played focused and composed basketball. Good for them! I’m happy for John Wall, who has made the basketball world pay attention to not just his skills and athleticism, but his leadership. Nene has been huge, and Chicago simply can’t slow them down. But, I think the Bulls will sneak a victory in game 3 and 5, before falling in game 6 in Washington
Dallas Mavericks vs San Antonio Spurs
Original prediction: Spurs in 5
Revised prediction: Spurs in 7
Only a late comeback by the Spurs has avoided them dropping both games at home to Dallas, and Rick Carlisle has actually out-coached Popovich so far. Ellis has complimented Dirk as the second option, and defensively they’ve slowed down Parker and Duncan. The Spurs won’t panic, but they need more consistent production from their core. They’ll get it, but Dallas will fight them all the way. This series is far too good to be a first round matchup.
(I might copy that last sentence as I’m sure I’ll be using it often when analysing the West matchups.)
Memphis Grizzlies vs Oklahoma City Thunder
Original prediction: Thunder in 6
Revised prediction: Thunder in 7
This series is far too good to be a first round matchup (well, that didn’t take me long), and could easily be a conference finals. Memphis is so disciplined and structured, they’re borderline stubborn. Regardless of the matchup or what other teams throw at them, they do not deviate from their game plan. I absolutely love that about them. They are, however, playing with fire by tempting Westbrook to beat them. If he starts to play within himself but is also aggressive, Memphis won’t be able to contain both him and Durant. But Westbrook is inconsistent, and that should allow for the Grizzlies to grab 2 more games and force a decisive game 7.
Golden State Warriors vs Los Angeles Clippers
Original prediction: Warriors in 6
Revised prediction: No change.
Momentum is a funny thing. Within a game, it is the most important thing. But game to game, it is so hard to keep it, it can completely drain a team and once they lose it, it can be impossible to recover. The Clippers have to be careful not to put too much stock into their game 2 blowout and expect things to be easy in Oakland. The Warriors are a very different team at home, and the Clippers often don’t show up in the playoffs on the road. If they can walk into Oracle Arena and steal a game, then sure, they would have proven that they do indeed have championship credentials. But with their inability to focus, I just don’t think they can do it.
Portland Trail Blazers vs Houston Rockets
Original prediction: Blazers in 6
Revised prediction: No change.
Yes, I know the Blazers are up 2-0. Yes, I know Harden has completely no showed. Yes, I didn’t expect Portland to win both games in Houston. But look, Portland themselves have had a history of implosions in the regular season. Yes, they’ve played brilliantly and impressed the hell out of me. But, that doesn’t mean they are guaranteed to win both at home and sweep. Wait, I haven’t talked about Aldridge yet? What is wrong with me! There is no one playing anywhere near his level right now. He’s averaging 44.5 PPG (on 60% shooting), 13 RPG and 2.5 BPG. There’s no way he can keep that up, right? It wouldn’t totally surprise me if he did. I just looked at those numbers again, and honestly, I’m speechless. Dwight Howard actually picked up his play last game, but he’s 2-10 in his last 12 playoff games (2-4 loss to Boston in 2010, 0-4 loss to Spurs last year and 0-2 so far this year). Harden needs to wake up, and he looks like he’s completely checked out mentally after the Blazers went after him with Wesley Matthews. If this guy is a leader and an All-NBA first teamer, he’ll respond. The jury is still out though, and I’m not totally convinced he will. If Portland wins game 3, I wonder what the odds will be that Dwight Howard gets ejected in game 4?