2015 NBA Playoff Preview

Apr 18, 2015 by

Lebron went back home…Klay Thompson dropped 37 points – in a single quarter…his running mate Steph Curry had an amazing regular season and made 77 straight 3’s in practice…crazy….James Harden still has the best beard known to basketball and had an incredible season….D-Rose had another knee injury…Durant missed most of the season…and the Knicks and Lakers, well they sucked. The NBA regular season was really good, but the playoffs are destined to be even better!I hope you enjoy this year’s NBA Playoff Preview!

The Eastern Conference

1 – Atlanta
60 wins…can you name their starting five? Four out of the starting five? Anyone who saw the Hawks winning 60 games this year, please make sure to call me next time you make a sports bet! Atlanta is the Spurs of the East – no 25 ppg superstar, they play team basketball (2nd in Assists) and are coached by Mike Budenholzer, Coach Popovich’s longtime assistant in San Antonio. The Hawks bring the most balanced team to the playoffs – all five starters average between 12 – 17 points and they have a deep bench to compliment the starters as well. They are great on both ends of the floor and will be hard to beat 4 out of 7 games.

2 – Cleveland
The NBA is a star driven league and the Cavs have the best basketball player on the planet, whether he wears the headband or not – has Rogaine ever offered Lebron an endorsement deal? Anyways, I love that Lebron is back home, the Cavs are hitting on all cyclinders which does not bode well for the rest of the East. I like Cleveland’s chances to represent the East behind LBJ, Kyrie and Love, but for them to win it all the role players will need to step it up in a big way. It will be intriguing to see if Lebron and Kyrie trust their teammates when the playoffs start to get tough. I bet my brother $100 the Cavs would win an NBA title in at least one of Lebron’s first three years back in Cleveland…kind of a fun bet to see if the city of Cleveland will get that elusive championship.

3 – Chicago
20 years from now there might be a knee procedure known as “Derrick Rose” surgery ala Tommy John surgery…I would have to imagine D-Rose is extremely excited to be back in the playoffs and I would like to see him do well. Coach Thibs, who always sounds like he just ate a box of cigarettes when he talks, continues to excel even when he seldom has a full deck. Under Thibs you know the Bulls will rebound and defend which usually gives them a good shot to win. Mr. Gasol has simply been great this year and continues to be an undervalued star. Jimmy Butler, the Marquette alum, has had a solid season and will land a big deal this offseason – the Bulls recipe for success this post season is to grind out games they aren’t supposed to win…maybe make it ugly and physical…I would not be shocked if Chicago represents the East.

4 – Toronto
Ah, our friends north of the border! They will have an awesome home court atmosphere, and advantage, plus I really like Kyle Lowry’s game. Toronto’s lack of consistency and inability to defend are enough for me to write them off – just remember this, America > Canada

5 – Washington
They will be a tough out, but they lack something…maybe a good coach? A true superstar? – sorry, not huge on John Wall like many others…really good, just not great. They will have Paul Pierce to hit clutch shots from his wheelchair, so that’s a plus.The first round matchup should be a good one with Toronto as a 4/5 seed matchup. Maybe Obama and Rouhani will sit courtside together at a Wizards’ game and have successful negotiations?

6 – Milwaukee
Please tell me you have seen the pictures of the new proposed stadium! Potential can be a dirty word, but it can also be great. If it develops then the future is promising in Wisconsin. The Greek Freak is developing very quickly and is only 20 years old…and so is Jabari Parker. Khris Middleton has had a really nice season and is becoming an elite defender. The wing spans of the young Bucks is what I love the most. When you have a young team, you aren’t too often really good at defense, but this team is – give Coach Kidd some credit for that as well. T-4th in defensive field goal %, 7thin points allowed, and T-1stin steals.MCW is starting to fit in better and better each game after the trade and is playing well heading into postseason play. Not going to Kidd myself – the Bucks are not true contenders this year but I absolutely love the future. #FearTheDeer

7 – Boston
Give credit where credit is due – Even though he looks 23, coach Brad Stevens has lead quite a second half resurgence for this young squad…their reward is the Cleveland Cavaliers…I am still a little confused on Danny Ainge’s long-term plan for Boston, but he has plenty of draft picks to package for a potential trade and he has built a championship team before…Boston, your off-season is coming up shortly. Then again, Brad Stevens took underdog Butler to back-to-back NCAA National Championship games…never say never.

8 –Brooklyn
Overpaid talent gets the Nets the 8 seed…congrats on that
The Western Conference

1 – Golden State
When you think of the Warriors, offense comes to mind, and rightly so, as they are #1 in the NBA in scoring and also #1 in offensive field goal percentage. Why I love this team’s chances in the postseason is they are also #1 in defensive field goal percentage. In my eye’s they have the league’s MVP in Stephen Curry – they are great because of his play and this is not best player on the best team approach for me…he’s just filthy. That Klay Thompson guy is kinda good too and they have an awesome 2nd unit. The Warriors lead the league in assists and are towards the top in rebounding and steals as well. They are the #1 Seed and are 39-2 at home this season…possible kryptonite – the Spurs.

2 – Houston
The Beard has played like a grown man all season long and is definitely worthy of the MVP (27+ ppg, 6 rpg and 7 apg). Dwight Howard is finally back and he better be a full go if Houston wishes to make a deep playoff run. Harden will not take down the West by himself. I would be truly surprised if they win it all – I do not believe the continuity is truly there – injuries, and well, Josh Smith…

3 – Los Angeles
At least this postseason will not be focused on Donald Sterling, Shelly Sterling or V. Stiviano. As usual the Clippers are extremely efficient on the offensive end. They have quickly become the least liked team in the NBA though. Ramona Shelburne wrote a good piece on April 9th about how this group is not Lob City focused anymore, do not care what others think about them and all they want to do is win now. I’m not sold on CP3 and Blake Griffin leading them to the Finals…I’d say 2% of me thinks they can win it all, 90% doesn’t and the other 8% has no clue what to make of this team…probably lose to San Antonio in round one.

4 – Portland
The injury bug has bit this team – the loss of Wes Matthews will be too much to overcome. You heard all of his teammates talk about how he was the heart and soul of this team – now they are supposed to go win the West? Matthews’ shooting, which greatly helps space the floor, and his defense will hurt the most. The Trailblazers do hit the glass (2nd in NBA) and have Aldridge and Lillard to lean on – love Aldridge playing through his hand injury and Lillard has the stones to drain any clutch shot. Feeling another successful regular season that will not translate into a successful playoff run.

5 – Memphis
The Grizzlies are one of the best defensive teams in the league, giving up the 2nd fewest ppg. They are by far the most under the radar team in the league, even given their recent success. Will they ever have enough to make a run to the Finals? Personally, I think their window is closing soon with this current roster. If Memphis can excel on the offensive end of the floor they just might have enough to make it to the finals, but don’t bet on it.

6 – San Antonio
Death, taxes, Duncan, Popovich, Parker, Ginobili, Leonard, etc…. The consistency of this group is insane. They have won at least 50 games in 16 straight seasons. The Spurs are 3rd ppg allowed and T-3rd in offensive field goal percentage. They appear healthy, are on an absolute tear and Kawhi Leonard seems to play his best basketball come playoff time. They have never won back-to-back titles during the Popovich era…probably not the best reasoning, but…father time has to catch up eventually…I think

7 – Dallas
No Cuban cigars come June this season. I really like the Mavs but they are simply not clicking right now…hope they can mesh and surprise everyone – they do have the pieces though – Rondo and Ellis, the creators and playmaker, Dirk for 333333!, Parsons for 333333!, and Tyson Chandler to patrol the paint. Maybe I talked myself back into that Stogie….nah

8 – New Orleans
It came down to the last night of the regular season, but New Orleans earned its way in, prevailing against the defending champion Spurs who were also playing for the 2ndseed. Making the playoffs in the Western Conference, even if it is the 8 seed, is impressive given the strength from top to bottom. Anthony Davis is nasty – 24 ppg, 10 rpg, 3 bpg. Back in March, I witnessed Davis’ career high of 43 in Milwaukee – simply no answer for him. But the Warriors will have an answer for New Orleans as a whole – one and done…and somewhere, Bo Ryan cringes
Personally, I am not one of those people who thinks the college basketball game is falling apart and the play is not what it used to be…a friend and I discussed that a few weeks ago and we laughed it off. Was it some 40 or 50 year olds saying that because “back in their day”…College basketball, with its upsets and March Madness, is awesome but, I will say, if you truly like the best basketball played on the planet, then tune into this year’s NBA Playoffs played by professionals…no one is forcing you to like the hundreds of interesting tattoos you will see on their bodies, just enjoy THE PLAYOFFS!

NBA Finals Prediction – Golden State Warriors over the Cleveland Cavaliers in 6.

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