2016 NBA Playoff Preview

Eastern Conference

First Round

1) Cleveland Cavaliers vs 8) Detroit Pistons

It’s impressive the team that SVG has been able to build in Detroit so far, but they’ll be sent home quickly. LeBron has been on a tear for the last month, and not even a whole seasons worth of off the court issues will make the Cavs lose this series. Prediction: Cavs in 4

2) Toronto Raptors vs 7) Indiana Pacers

Putting my Twitter rant to the side, the Raptors should easily win this series. The Raptors have 4 of the top 5 players in this series, and they have the defenders that can potentially neutralize Paul George. He needs to put on an MVP type series along with increases in production by George Hill and Monta Ellis. Raptors win their first 7 game series in franchise history and their first playoff series since 2001. Prediction: Raptors in 5

3) Miami Heat vs 6) Charlotte Hornets

This is one of the two playoff series I believe is a lock to go 7 games. Everyone is going to pick Miami because they’re the household name team, but Charlotte is really good. Kemba Walker has been a top 10 guard this season, and you could legitimately make a case for Jeremy Lin as 6 man of the year. They’re very well coached and give the Heat a run for their money. Even with all of that, I’m picking the Heat due to Dwayne Wade, and I think Hassan Whiteside comes up big as well. Prediction: Heat in 7

4) Atlanta Hawks vs 5) Boston Celtics

The other series that’s a lock to go to 7. Boston has a become a media darling in the Eastern Conference because of head coach Brad Stevens and they play well without a star player. But the Hawks are really good too. They play a Spurs like game with a really efficient team oriented offense. The Celtics will be able to muck of the games enough to keep them in it until the end, but ultimately I think Atlanta wins out. Prediction: Hawks in 7

Second Round

1) Cleveland Cavaliers vs 4) Atlanta Hawks

A rematch of last years conference finals where the Cavs swept the Hawks. The Cavaliers will be fully healthy this time around, and while I think Teague will have some good games, they don’t have anyone that can slow down LeBron. Prediction: Cavs in 5

2) Toronto Raptors vs 3) Miami Heat

This would be a fantastic series. These two teams matchup really well against each other, and it would give the Heat the chance to face the Cavs in the conference finals, however, the dynamic guard play of Lowry and DeRozan will be too much, and I think Jonas Valanciunas outplays Whiteside. Prediction: Raptors in 6

Conference Finals

1) Cleveland Cavaliers vs 2) Toronto Raptors

These have been not only the 2 best teams in the east, but the two most consistent teams in the East all year. Kyle Lowry has had his success against Kyrie Irving, but the Raptors seem to struggle covering Kevin Love around the perimeter, and when the Cavs have strong ball movement they’re hard to stop. The key to this series will be DeMarre Carroll against LeBron James. This is the reason that the Raptors signed Carroll, and if he can slow down LeBron just a little bit, they’ll have a legit chance to win the series. Prediction: Cavaliers in 7

 

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Photo Credit: Gary A. Sanchez – USA Today

Western Conference

First Round

1) Golden State Warriors vs 8) Houston Rockets

This will be a very quick series. Houston did a fine job late getting into the playoffs, but they’re a terrible defensive team and we all know what Golden State has been done this season. Harden would likely have to average 40 points per game just to be able to get sent home in 5 games. Prediction: Warriors in 4

2) San Antonio Spurs vs 7) Memphis Grizzlies

The Spurs have quietly had a historic season as well. Finished with 41 wins at home and 67 wins overall.They’ll play a physical Grizzlies team that has the mindset of mucking up a few games, but Memphis doesn’t have nearly enough scoring power to keep up with the Spurs efficient offense. Prediction: Spurs in 4

3) Oklahoma City Thunder vs 6) Dallas Mavericks

Oklahoma City has had a great season. KD has stayed healthy all year, and Russell Westbrook would probably be the MVP if it wasn’t for Steph Curry. Memphis has been ravaged by injuries this season (have played 28 players).they face a team in Dallas that has had trouble staying consistent all year long. They’ve really stumbled into the playoffs and this will likely be a short series as well. Prediction: Thunder in 5

4) Los Angeles Clippers vs 5) Portland Trailblazers

Will be the most exciting series in the West in the 1st round. Portland has surprised all by making the playoffs nevermind the 5 seed after losing 4 starters. Their success this year is due to the MVP-like play of Damian Lillard and the emergence of CJ McCollum. The Clippers are the easy favorite though because CP3 has been one of the best guards in the league, and they haven’t missed a beat with the return of Blake Griffin. Prediction: Clippers in 6

Second Round

1) Golden State Warriors vs 4) Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers have been regarded by many as the team that is best equipped to beat the Warriors. They have the guard play, scoring off of the bench, and athleticism to keep up with the Warriors. However, Golden State has been on a mission this year, and I’m not one of those people that trusts the Clippers to possibly beat them this year. Another failed attempt at a conference finals birth for the Clips. Prediction: Warriors in 5

2) San Antonio Spurs vs 3) Oklahoma City Thunder

I think this will be a fantastic series. The Thunder have never been fully healthy in a playoff series with the Spurs and this year they will be (knock on wood). Lineups are pretty even at most positions so this has the potential to go 7 games. However, I think the team play and the addition of LaMarcus Aldridge will be the key to this series. Prediction: Spurs in 6

Conference Finals

1) Golden State Warriors vs 2) San Antonio Spurs

Here. We. Go. This is the series we’ve expected all season long, but I think this has the possibility of being a short series. I don’t want to be too trapped to the regular season, because I do believe that Gregg Popovich has held some stuff back, but it’s been surprising how much of a mismatch these two teams are. Could seriously be Warriors in 5, and it could be a really tight 7 game series. I’ll be hoping for the latter. Prediction: Warriors in 7

NBA Finals

Golden State Warriors vs Cleveland Cavaliers

A rematch of last years NBA Finals, but this time the Cavaliers are fully healthy. No excuses on either side. Problem is, the Warriors are a much better team than they were a year ago. LeBron can do all he can, but Kyrie and Love won’t be able to guard this team to save their lives. All in all, the Golden State Warriors will be your NBA Champions Prediction: Warriors in 5, Finals MVP: Steph Curry

Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors - Game Two
Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw – Getty Images

Article by Thomas Mooney

Twitter: @thomas_mooney1, @AFewGoodMics

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