Greetings! The NBA playoffs are on the horizon as each team has between 3-5 games remaining in their season and as we approach the finish line it’s time to look ahead towards the playoffs. First, let’s project the seed in each conference.
- Oklahoma City
- San Antonio
- LA Clippers (Division Winner)
- Golden State
- LA Lakers
There are a few changes from the current standings here. The Spurs currently hold the #1 seed but with Manu out of the lineup and Oklahoma City looming, I think the Spurs give up the top spot to the Thunder. On the bottom half, Houston currently trails the Warriors by a game but they have been significantly better for about 3 months now and I see them zooming past GSW and into the 6-spot. The 8th seed is the biggest battle to watch between LA and Utah but after a huge Laker win and Jazz loss Tuesday, I’ll give the edge to Kobe.
- New York
Nothing changes here! The closest battle is between Atlanta and Chicago for the 5th spot, but with Chicago holding a 1/2 game lead and the tiebreaker, they’re in a bit better shape. Everything else is comfortably set.
With that set, let’s take a (very) quick look at projecting the path to the NBA Finals.
- Oklahoma City over Los Angeles in 5 - The Thunder are head-and-shoulders better than the current Lakers team, and while Kobe’s offense has been crazy this season, he isn’t guarding a soul. It is popular to think that LA could “put it together” in the playoffs, but not against a gauntlet like OKC.
- San Antonio over Golden State in 6 – Without Manu, San Antonio seems vulnerable, but with their coaching advantage and the presence of Duncan/Parker, they’d still beat Golden State.
- Houston over Denver in 6 – Here’s my one-and-only bold upset pick. I think Houston would beat Denver in a series. They have the best player in the series in Harden, they can play at Denver’s tempo (perhaps better than Denver can), and they can score at will.
- LA Clippers over Memphis in 7 – This is probably the best matchup in the West and a re-match of last year’s crazy back-and-forth series. Give me Chris Paul & C0.
- Miami over Milwaukee in 4 - I yawned out loud when I thought about this series.
- New York over Boston in 7 – I really wanted to take Boston although I couldn’t pull the trigger without home-court. New York will put up a stinker or two if these two teams meet but Boston can’t score enough to win 4 games.
- Indiana over Atlanta in 7 – Call me a homer for taking this to 7 games but the Hawks would hold home-court against Indy. The Pacers are better overall (defensively being the key), however, there’s no reason it wouldn’t be highly competitive throughout.
- Chicago over Brooklyn in 6 – Tom Thibodeau is very, very good at his job. If Chicago beats Brooklyn in this series (like I predict), he should be awarded a medal for winning a playoff round with Nate Robinson as his best guard.
- Oklahoma City over LA Clippers in 5 - This is a bad match-up for the Clips. Paul could be neutralized (or even beaten) by Westbrook and they have no answer for Durant while being unable to punish OKC inside or with shooters. I don’t like it.
- San Antonio over Houston in 7 – This would be a 5-game series if Manu was healthy but because we don’t know how he’ll be by then, I’ll take it to 7. Still can’t pick against Pop and Duncan here.
- Miami over Chicago in 5 – Chicago can steal a game because they’ll muck it up but don’t you think LBJ and Wade will be angry about the streak-ending loss?
- Indiana over New York in 6 - Indy’s defense is too good to let New York go crazy for 4 full games. That’s the difference. Throw in Paul George against Carmelo and I love Indiana.
- Oklahoma City over San Antonio in 7 - This pains me. If I knew that San Antonio was full-strength, I would pick the Spurs and not blink. But since we don’t know that, I can’t pull the trigger.
- Miami over Indiana in 5 - Just because Indy is the “best” match-up in the East for Miami doesn’t mean they’ll have a chance. Enjoy your off-season.
- Miami over Oklahoma City in 7 – If James Harden was on the Thunder this is a legit toss-up. However, with the slight downgrade and Miami’s unbelievably high-level play, it would be semi-crazy to pick against them at this stage. LeBron and Durant battle for the second time, and while I love KD unconditionally, LeBron is the best player on Earth. Great series.
Topics: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, NBA Playoffs, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs