It’s that time of year again and the NBA play-offs are just a day away. All teams will feel they have a chance of making the finals in June. I’ll be looking at all the match-ups in the East and Western conferences, can we expect another Cavs Warriors clash? Or can another team make the finals?
Golden State Warriors (1) Vs Portland Trail Blazers (8)
Barring a miracle from the Blazers, this should be smooth sailing for Curry and co. Durant is back from his injury and the Warriors will look to sweep this Blazers side who barely scraped the playoffs, due to Westbrooks heroics against the Nuggets. Perhaps if Portland’s backcourt Lillard and CJ can catch fire at home they can sneak one win vs the Warriors but I expect Golden state to take care of the Blazers.
Warriors in 5.
San Antonio Spurs (2) vs Memphis Grizzlies (7)
I expect a sweep here, The Grizzlies are a good team, possessing the likes of potential All-NBA centre Marc Gasol and guard Mike Conley as their stars, but led by Kawhi Leonard The Spurs should take care of business. These teams played each other in last year’s play-offs and the Spurs swept them, and I expect the same again. In this series we have two of the best defensive teams in the league, so it won’t be one of the most glamorous games in the first round, I am however looking forward to the tussle between the Gasol Brothers.
Spurs in 4.Houston Rockets (3) vs Oklahoma City Thunder (6)
MVP vs MVP, it’s the way most people would label this series. I personally can’t wait to see an “underdog” Russell Westbrook explode against the Houston Rockets. The rockets are the favourites for this fixture and it shouldn’t just be ear-marked as Harden vs Westbrook. The rockets won the series 3-1 and Hardens role players are generally better than Westbrooks team mates. I’d have to give this series to the Rockets, with a view to ‘how far can Russell carry this team in the playoffs’ I can see Westbrook averaging monster stats in this game, something like 40ppg but I’m just not sure he will be able to sustain that for every game, and with the Rockets shooting ability I think they will win.
Rockets in 7.
Los Angeles Clippers (4) vs Utah Jazz (5)
The most intriguing first round match up see’s the Clippers boast home court advantage against Utah. This is a must win for the Clippers side, even perhaps for the Clippers organisation. If they fail to win here they could potentially split the team up. After their constant failures in the playoffs, this off-season could potentially be the time to split up, CP3, Blake Griffin and DeAndre. Having said that I do believe the Clippers will go through, the experience they have in their arsenal, behind Chris Pauls leadership, Blakes athleticism and having home court, the Clippers should go through. The Jazz have a good but all be it inexperienced side, Hayward and Gobert can provide big problems for the Clippers but I think they’ll go through.
Clippers in 6.
Boston Celtic (1) vs Chicago Bulls (8)
This isn’t your stereotypical 1 vs 8 seed matchup. Boston to their credit done magnificently well to get the 1 seed in the East, although for the most part it was due to the abysmal Cavs. However, the last time the Celtics were the first seed in 07/08 they did go on to win the title. The Bulls made the play-offs on the final day of the regular season, getting in at the expense the Heat. I do think the Celtics will go through but all the pressure is on them, the Bulls have had a circus year, will they? won’t they make the play-offs? And Yet behind Jimmy Butler who is an All-NBA talent, behind Dwyane Wade’s experience, the Bulls do have a chance of winning a few games. If the bulls are to have a chance they must double team Isiah Thomas, the Celtics best player. I do think behind the tutelage of Brad Stevens; I do see the Celtics going through.
Celtics in 6
Cleveland Cavaliers (2) vs Indiana Pacers (7)
Over the last 25 games of the season the Cavs went 11-14, which is an awful record. A record that seen them finish in the second seed, to everyones suprise. Lebron James vs Paul George is always entertaining. But will Lance blow in Lebron’s ear again? I feel that the Cavs will enable play-off mode again and turn it on while quashing all their doubters. The Cavaliers come into the game with a 4-game loss streak while the Pacers come into it having won their last 5 and Lance Stephenson’s arrival has given the Pacers a spark. Ultimately I do think the Cavs will dominate the Pacers, the individual battle between the King and PG13 will be intriguing, but at the end of the day Lebron has a better team around him and that will show.
Cavs in 5.Toronto Raptors (3) vs Milwaukee bucks (6)
The Toronto Raptors had their best ever play-off performance last year reaching the conference finals, only losing to the Cavaliers. This year they don’t have the demon on their backs of never winning a play-off series, so they come into it more relaxed. The Bucks come into it on the back of a great season led behind Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has led his team in points, assist, rebounds, blocks and steals. I do think the Raptors are a better overall side though with the ‘North’ being better in both offense and defence, I do expect them to go out there and take care of business. Giannis may be able to steal a game or two for the Bucks, but nothing else.
Raptors in 6.
Washington Wizards (4) vs Atlanta Hawks (5)
I expect a very tough series here, a series where both teams will have to grit and grind to get the win. When it comes to the 4th vs 5th seed, home court can be crucial because of how close the teams re in terms of ability. I have been impressed by Millsap and Howard, but I want to see how Dennis Schroder will be as the number one guard for Atlanta. The Wizards front court is on another level though and I do think John Wall will dominate this series, with the help of Beal. I do think because of how much experience the Hawks have they will be able to get 2 games, but with Washington having home court I can see them racing out of the blocks.
Wizards in 6.