15 April 2016

2016 NBA Playoffs Predictions: 1st Round

Here's a fun fact for you to enjoy, the 2016 NBA Playoffs are the first edition in four years to not have a single team under .500 make the postseason. Of course, this season was defined by the Golden State Warriors as they finished the regular season with a record 73-9 record, breaking a record set by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls that was once thought to be unbreakable.

The Warriors are expected by most to roll on through and win the NBA Finals but we still have a ways to go until we get to that point. Here are my predictions for the 1st Round.

TV Schedule

1 Cavaliers vs. 8 Pistons
Cleveland Cavaliers (2011 - Pres)Detroit Pistons (1980 - 1996)
Their firing of David Blatt was bizarre but they have played a little better under Tyronn Lue at times, albeit with the occasional inexplicable loss. They still don't look like a Finals champion just yet but I would be surprised if they fell to an inferior Detroit team here. 
Cavaliers in 5

2 Raptors vs. 7 Pacers
Toronto Raptors (2016 - Pres)Indiana Pacers (1977 - 1990)
Dwane Casey is known for being a very good defensive coach and this Raptors team reflects that as they were third in points allowed in the league. They also have a strong backcourt featuring DeMar DeRozan and a resurgent Kyle Lowry. An upset here is not impossible and the Pacers are going to have to play some terrific defense and they'll need Paul George to go off. Indiana will steal a couple of games but not the series. 
Raptors in 6

3 Heat vs. 6 Hornets 
Miami Heat (2009 - Pres)Charlotte Hornets (1989 - 2002)
This should be a good one. The Heat are very good defensively and have the better one-on-one scorers but the Hornets are not only sound defensively, as is the Steve Clifford staple, but they have improved greatly offensively this year thanks to much better perimeter shooting. I think you're going to get a big series from Kemba Walker and enough three pointers to take the series.
Hornets in 7

4 Hawks vs. 5 Celtics
Atlanta Hawks (2016 - Pres)Boston Celtics (1977 - 1996)
Here you got a pretty even series with two quality teams on both sides of the floor and two very good coaches. Honestly, you could go either way in this series but I like Atlanta to advance to the Eastern Conference Semis for a couple of reasons: they come into this series looking like the better team and their superior frontcourt led by Paul Millsap and Al Horford will make the difference.
Hawks in 7

1 Warriors vs. 8 Rockets
San Francisco Warriors (1970 - 1971)Houston Rockets (1973 - 1995)
The Warriors just pulled off the greatest regular season in NBA history and look even better than the team that won the championship this past June. Is anybody really that concerned about them struggling with a Rockets club that has been a mess all season long?
Warriors in 4

2 Spurs vs. 7 Grizzlies
San Antonio Spurs (1990 - 2002)Memphis Grizzlies (2005 - Pres)
Largely lost amid the Golden State hoopla has been a Spurs team that only won 67 games, their highest win total in franchise history. They have been spectacular defensively at times and are very tough to score on. That's bad news for a team that struggles to score as is like the Grizzlies.
Spurs in 4

3 Thunder vs. 6 Mavericks
Oklahoma City Thunder (2009 - Pres)Dallas Mavericks (2002 - Pres)
We don't know the future of the Thunder considering that Kevin Durant is a free agent this summer but in the meantime, we know that OKC is very good. Their offense has been very exciting at times this season and they are the best team in the league on the glass. Dirk Nowitzki has carried the Mavs to more wins than many thought this season but he is really going to have to turn the clock to lead his team to the upset.
Thunder in 5

4 Clippers vs. 5 Trail Blazers
Los Angeles Clippers (2016 - Pres)Portland Trail Blazers (2005 - Pres)
For what it's worth, I thought that the Trail Blazers were going to be the worst team in the Western Conference. So just like you, I'm surprised that Terry Stotts was able to win 44 games with a team that lost a good chunk of guys from last year's team. They have had their moments but there is a decent gap between them and the Clippers. And don't forget, Chris Paul has had his way with Damian Lillard over the years.
Clippers in 5

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