After a short break, NBA Basketball is back!
All eyes are now on the playoffs. Who will make it? Which teams will get home court advantage?
Things tend to get very interesting during this part of the NBA season. With All Star weekend done and dusted, teams will be putting their foot on the gas, hoping to solidify their playoff standing.
Although we have to wait until April to see the match ups for round one, it’s always fun to play around with hypotheticals. So, we thought we’d have a go at predicting what would happen if the post season kicked off today.
Los Angeles Lakers (1) vs Memphis Grizzlies (8)
First question that springs to mind when looking at this potential series; who guards LeBron James?
Huge respect to the Memphis Grizzlies and the incredible grit they’ve shown in their push for the playoffs. This however, is a sweep. The Lakers’ interior defence, perimeter defence, transition offence and bench power should prove too much for the Grizzlies. The biggest consideration is the LeBron James factor and how Memphis would go about stopping him. The short answer is, unfortunately for Grizzlies fans, they can’t.
Denver Nuggets (2) vs Dallas Mavericks (7)
This one should be a very fun match up for the neutrals. We would get to see Luka Doncic in his first playoff series against a fun, young Nuggets team that now have post season experience.
I’m going to give this one to Denver, however I do see it going to five, maybe even six games. Nikola Jokic was an absolute force in the playoffs last season. If he can pick up where he left off, they should put Dallas away without reaching a game seven. Along with Jokic, the Nuggets will certainly need Jamal Murray and the supporting cast to step up on both ends of the court, especially when trying to contain Luka Doncic.
Los Angeles Clippers (3) vs Oklahoma City Thunder (6)
A series that some may have predicted as a one vs eight seed match up, I see this ending in five with the Clippers advancing.
Kawhi Leonard is a proven leader that can take a team to the finals and win. They also have Paul George, who if fully healthy is as close to unguardable as it gets. The Thunder would relish the opportunity to compete against some of the league’s best. Although I can definitely see OKC taking a game, eventually the overwhelming talent depth that the Clippers have on their roster would prove too much.
Houston Rockets (4) vs Utah Jazz (5)
This is the most interesting of our Western Conference series match ups. I believe that should these teams face off, it will go the seven game distance.
Who wins game seven? That’s the toughest to predict so far.
If you buy into Houston’s small ball, you’d think it crazy to suggest they wouldn’t come out victorious. It certainly isn’t easy to bet against a team led by James Harden and Russell Westbrook. I however don’t buy in, and am going to give the edge to Utah. The Jazz have a combination of great defensive players in Rudy Gobert and Mike Conley to go along with punchy scoring from all over the court. Whichever way you see this one going, I think any fan of NBA basketball would want this series in their life.
Milwaukee Bucks (1) vs Orlando Magic (8)
Brooms at the ready, this one is a clean sweep. Giannis Antetokounmpo will be out for blood from the get go after missing out on the finals last season.
Unfortunately for the Magic, should this match up go down, I can’t see it lasting long. The Bucks are looking as formidable as any team of the past and playoff sides in the East will be doing all they can to avoid that ill-fated eighth seed.
Toronto Raptors (2) vs Brooklyn Nets (7)
Call me crazy but I’m predicting a Raptors sweep in this series. Brooklyn have some talent, undeniably, however Toronto have one massive thing in their favour: Momentum.
Not only are they coming off a championship season, they are also playing at an incredibly high level this season and will be looking to carry that in to the post season. The Raptors would look to thwart the perimeter threat of Joe Harris so if the Nets can steal a game, it would take a mighty performance from Spencer Dinwiddie.
Boston Celtics (3) vs Indiana Pacers (6)
The scouting report for this series from the Celtics standpoint would be to keep Domantas Sabonis off the offensive glass.
Considering that Boston aren’t the biggest team, that may prove to be a tall order. However, I would still suggest Boston takes this series, eliminating Indiana in five games. Jayson Tatum is a nightmare matchup for any defender and although Indiana have some solid defensive pieces, I can’t see them slowing him or the rest of the Celtics down.
Miami Heat (4) vs Philadelphia 76ers (5)
On paper, this is a series that should feel more difficult to predict than it is. There are two factors that make Miami the easier team to choose.
Firstly, Miami have the upper hand on Philadelphia from a mental standpoint. They will be confident going in knowing that having met three times already this season, they’ve come out on top each time. The other is the fact that Bam Adebayo can guard Joel Embiid, which we’ve seen in the aforementioned games already. I’d suggest Miami takes this series in six games, maybe even five.