NBA Playoff Preview

East First Round

(1)Hawks vs. (8)Nets: Hawks in 4

(4)Raptors vs. (5)Wizards: Raptors in 6

(2)Cavaliers vs. (7) Celtics: Cavaliers in 5

(3)Bulls vs. (6)Bucks: Bulls in 6

Discussion: The Hawks easily dispatch of and sweep the Nets like they have in the regular season.  The Raptors defeat the Wizards in a series of two fairly evenly matched teams.  The Celtics take a game (most likely game 1) from the Cavs, a team greatly lacking in playoff experience who will come out flat and nervous.  But don’t expect the upset here.  Finally, the Bucks outperform expectations but eventually succumb to the superior Bulls.

West First Round

(1)Warriors vs. (8)Pelicans: Warriors in 5

(4)Trail Blazers vs. (5)Grizzlies: Grizzlies in 6

(2)Rockets vs. (7)Mavericks: Rockets in 7

(3)Clippers vs. (6)Spurs: Spurs in 6

Discussion: The Pelicans, fresh off their first playoff berth since 2011, take a game from the Warriors but cannot hang in the series.  In a series of complete attrition, the Grizzlies survive the Trial Blazers; both teams are suffering from critical injuries.  The Rockets-Mavericks series is a toss-up, but the advantage goes to the team with home court.  Finally, the Spurs defeat the Clippers and set up a second-round date with Houston.

East Semifinals

(1)Hawks vs. (4)Raptors: Hawks in 6

(2)Cavaliers vs. (3)Bulls: Cavaliers in 7

Discussion:  The Hawks defeat the Raptors in 6.  The Hawks have not been to a Conference Finals since 1970.  The Cavaliers defeat the Bulls in what could arguably end up as the best series in the playoffs, as both teams are profusely talented and evenly matched.

West Semifinals

(1)Warriors vs. (5)Grizzlies: Warriors in 6

(2)Rockets vs. (6)Spurs: Spurs in 6

Discussion: The Warriors dispose of a Grizzlies team that will likely be without starting PG Mike Conley for the playoffs.  The Spurs defeat the Rockets.  Crazy guess: the Spurs employ either a Hack-a-Smith strategy (Josh Smith: 49% Free-throw shooter) or play Hack-a-Howard (53% Free-throw shooter).

Conference Finals

(1)Hawks vs. (2)Cavaliers: Cavaliers in 6

(1)Warriors vs. (6)Spurs: Spurs in 6

Discussion: Both road teams prevail here.  The Cavaliers overwhelming talent overtakes the Hawks teamwork and discipline.  The Spurs defeat the Warriors in a battle of the New Guard vs. the Old Guard in the NBA.  This sets up the LeBron vs. the Spurs rematch for a third straight year.

NBA Finals

Cavaliers vs. Spurs: Cavaliers in 7

Cleveland finally gets its title.  This Cavs team is obviously far better than last year’s Cavs team and the play of Kyrie Irving at the point will be the difference.  Bold prediction: Kyrie will win Finals MVP.  The Cavs win this series by the slimmest of margins, in 7 games.

Enjoy the playoffs everybody!

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