Playoff Predictions of the first degree

It’s that time of year NBA fans, the playoffs are here. Fourteen teams have been sent home for the year, and sixteen remain, ready to compete for a title. With such an interesting post season awaiting, Cale and Collin offer up their first round predictions:


Eastern Conference

 

Boston Celtics (1) vs Chicago Bulls (8)

 

Collin: Boston versus Chicago will be a fun series, for the Celtics fans. I will say this however, both team went 7-3 in their last ten games of the season, but Chicago was fighting for its life. The continuation of this disorderly system ran by Hoiberg and the front office guarantees an easy series win for Boston. Don’t doubt Jimmy Butler takes one game in a shining performance. 4-2 Boston 

 

Cale: As a Celtics fan, I want to say it will be easy for us to take the series, but I can’t guarantee that. Despite how dysfunctional the Bulls have been all season, Butler is the best two-way player on either team by a mile and if he has a big series the Cs might have issues. I have no faith in Hoiberg as a coach so that is a plus. At best, I can see the Chicago taking one of the first two games in Boston. 4-1 Boston

 

Cleveland Cavaliers (2) vs Indiana Pacers (7)

 

Collin: This is one of the more interesting match ups, and one I will be paying close attention to. Paul George has been on fire, and averaged 30.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in his last ten games this year. Although he’s averaged 24.7 points a game against Cleveland, he’s only lead his team to one win out of four games against LeBron this season. Cavaliers have had a rough finish to the regular season, but will take the series after a sloppy start. 4-2 Cleveland 

 

Cale: With the first game in the series featuring little to no defense and coming down to a missed shot by C.J Miles, I think it is safe to say the Pacers put the Cavs on notice. Coming into the postseason the biggest question mark for me was Cleveland’s defense. I don’t think they will be exposed in this series, but in the future, I wouldn’t be so sure the King still reigns. 4-0 Cleveland

 

Toronto Raptors (3) vs Milwaukee Bucks (6)

 

Collin: I’m a firm believer that Milwaukee can land an upset over Toronto. As they’ve shown in the past, (round 1 against the Bulls) they can be resilient in the face of elimination. In their most recent game together, Giannis was a huge problem for the Raptors. He finished the game with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists all while shooting 62%. We can’t forget the Raptors mid-season additions, who have really found their stride in the final month of the season (Ibaka: 14ppg/7rpg/1.2bpg in last 10). It will be through an immense defensive effort on Milwaukee’s end, but their size and length will pull through in the end. 4-3 Milwaukee

 

Cale: Going into the first game, my pick was Toronto. After the showing from Milwaukee my faith is a little shaken, but I will remain pact. I think the diversity and depth of the Raptors will eventually wear down the Bucks. Please for the love of basketball though, let P.J Tucker guard Giannis Antetokounmpo more in the second game. Put positions out of the way, that is the matchup I want to see going forward. 4-2 Toronto

 

Washington Wizards (4) vs Atlanta Hawks (5)

 

Collin: There’s no doubt in my mind that the Wizards will silence all doubt in this series. Washington finished the season 49-33, their best record in over 30 years! John Wall and Bradley Beal have really meshed as a back court, and their bench rotation has been a key for their success. After a great start to the season, Atlanta has fallen apart and shown huge signs of inconsistency. Should Millsap remain healthy, this series could likely go to seven games. Nonetheless, the success of Washington is hard to look past. 4-2, Washington

 

Cale: In the words of Bill Simmons. Atlanta is like the crazy drunk guy at the bar that everyone wants to steer clear of. They have about five wing players that can knock down three-pointers and with the low-post pairing of Dwight Howard and Paul Millsap, I don’t know if the bigs on Washington will be able to slow them down. The bench will be the deciding factor for both teams. Looking at you Ersan. 4-3 Atlanta

 

Western Conference

 

Golden State Warriors (1) vs Portland Trailblazers (8)

 

Collin: Damian Lillard and the Trailblazers had a strong finish to the regular season, going 7-3 in their final ten. Lillard even had the audacity to announce: “Blazers in 6,” when asked about facing Golden State. Dame, we appreciate the enthusiasm, but Portland is 0-4 against the Warriors this season (including a 135-90 blowout back in December). Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the same Warriors team that went to the Finals back to back, but they’re simply on a different level of basketball. 4-1 Golden State

 

Cale: KD is back and Nurkic is questionable. Not much to say here. Unless Damian Lillard can drop 60 or get some major help from more than just CJ, I see no challenge. 4-0 Golden State

 

San Antonio Spurs (2) vs Memphis Grizzlies (7)

 

Collin: Alas, the poor Memphis Grizzlies have found their fate once again in the hands of San Antonio. It’s rare that Pop and the Spurs get taken down in the first round of the playoffs, and sadly I don’t think Memphis is capable. I will say this for the Grizzlies: they are a strong defensive team and have tied the season series, 2-2. For this reason, I’m giving them one Mike Conley-Marc Gasol performance that results in a win. 4-1 San Antonio 

 

Cale: The last stand of the grit and grind. Z-Bo will get his in this matchup but after the first game it is clear LaMarcus Aldridge is ready to play. Tony Parker even turned back the clock for an 18-point performance. Tony Allen’s injury is going to open a hole that I think the Spurs will take advantage of. 4-1 San Antonio 

 

Houston Rockets (3) vs Oklahoma City Thunder (6)

Collin: Houston vs Oklahoma is the series we all deserve. It’s (arguably) the top-two candidates for the MVP award facing off once again. A Russell Westbrook that wants to win is a very dangerous one. Against the Rockets and his former teammate, Westbrook is averaging 36 points, 9 rebounds, and 9 assists per game while shooting around 45% from the floor. As much as we want to root for Russ, we can’t deny that he’s up against the best offensive team we’ve seen in years. Harden has been phenomenal and he’s got two sixth man of the year candidates in his secondary rotation. In honor of the season he’s having, I say Westbrook pulls his team to three wins. 4-3 Houston 

 

Cale: Hometown bias aside, I think the Thunder have the most to prove in the playoffs outside of the two teams that played in last year’s finals. Russell is out to destroy anyone put in front of him and he has some beef with Patrick Beverly from a previous postseason matchup. This will come down to if OKC can keep the score even remotely close. The abundance of shooters on Houston will make it difficult, but only time will tell us the victor of the MVP Bowl. 4-2 Oklahoma City

 

 

Los Angeles Clippers 4) vs Utah Jazz (5)

 

Collin: I’m counting on the Utah Jazz to pull this one out for the underdogs. As a team they’ve emerged as one of the biggest surprises this season. Gordon Hayward, George Hill, and Rudy Gobert have become a not so big three and lead this team to the playoffs for the first time since 2012. The Los Angeles Clippers are known for their lack of championships and failure in the post season, and I don’t expect them to disappoint in this match up with Utah. The Jazz are fighting to make a name, and have played just as well (if not better) as Los Angeles. Chris Paul and his squad certainly have playoff experience, so I’m predicting a push for seven games. 4-3, Utah

 

Cale: One game in and the predictions of this series being the one to watch is already looking accurate. The loss of Rudy Gobert just seconds into the game is a crushing blow to Utah, but the depth of their team and key performances from veteran role players have the series leaning their way. I don’t know what the Clippers need to do outside of be more efficient, but even without Rudy, Gordon Hayward and crew look poised to take the next step. Key factors will be the return of Gobert and if Derrick Favors can stay healthy.  4-1 Utah

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