Ok basketball fans. The playoffs begin tomorrow! These are my picks for 2014, along with my reasons for predicting as I am.
In the West, San Antonio takes on Dallas. Though the Spurs swept the season series, I don't think it will be so easy in the playoffs. Between Dirk, Monta, and a rejuvenated Vince Carter, I see the Spurs losing 2 games, and winning in 6.
Houston will play against the Blazers. Portland comes in winning 9 of their last 10 games in the season, and have a reputation of putting W's together in bunches. They each have identical records of 54 wins, and I trust the Blazers health more than the Rockets. This one goes to 7 games with the Blazers moving on.
The Clippers will have the home court advantage over the Warriors, who will be without Andrew Bogut in the playoffs. Griffin's back is questionable, but Chris Paul is the best point guard in the league. Jamal Crawford is back to give the Clips some extra punch. I see Golden State going down in 6.
OKC and Memphis. Kevin Durant will win this year's MVP award, and I find it hard to believe anyone on the Grizzly's team can check him. Tayshawn Prince is too old, and Tony Allen is too short. The best you can hope for in this series is a few dust ups, with the Thunder taking it in 7 games.
In the East, Indiana takes on Atlanta. If Larry Legend can get his mojo on, as I suspect he will, the Pacers shut this down in 5, with the Hawks winning a game at home.
On the same side of that bracket, Chicago faces Washington. The Bulls won 48 games despite the loss of their best player early in the season. Joakim Noah has proven to be an inspiration to the team, and will lead them to a first round win over the Wizards in 6.
Toronto plays Brooklyn in a series I predict will go 7 games. The Nets are the highest paid team in the league, but all those millions won't win them a championship. They also are one of the oldest teams in the playoffs, and it won't surprise me if after winning this series in 7 games, literally fall apart.
I hate the Heat! Had to say it, 'cause it's true... LeBron and company will knock off the Charlotte Bobcats, in moving on to the second round. Chris Bosh shouldn't have been an All Star, and Wade has only played a handful of games in the second part of the season. The question in my mind is who falls apart first, the Nets or the Heat?
Spurs and Blazers. Blazers and Spurs. My heart wants the Blazers to take this series, but my head tells me otherwise. the Spurs didn't win 62 games this year by accident. Greg Popovich is probably the best coach in the league, even if he doesn't win the award this year. He should! I think the Blazers will give the Spurs all they can handle, but will go back home after losing the 7th game of the series in San Antonio.
Clippers vs. the Thunder. These teams don't get along. Ibaka seems to genuinely detest Griffin. Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul don't seem to be buddies either. This one could get ugly if the refs let it. Talent wise, I think they're pretty evenly matched. What remains to be seen is how the Clips will do shooting free throws at the end of games. It's pretty much a toss up, but I give the nod to LA in 7.
Indiana plays Da Bulls. Roy Hibert has played like he's forgotten how to in the last month and a half. He'd better remember, if the Pacers want to move on. The pesky Bulls will be hassling Paul George as much as possible, so he too had better be ready for a hard fought series. Because Indiana has home court advantage in this series, they'll win it at home in 7 games. Probably...
Heat and Nets. Break out the ice and bandages. These teams will be tired when they meet. Although the Nets are the first team to sweep the Heat during the regular season (first team to do so in 3 years), I don't think LeBron will let the Heat lose (quite yet). Heat in 7.
Western Conference Championship...
Spurs and Clippers. Did I tell you that Tim, Manu, and Tony all want one more ring before they close it down for good? It's now or never for the aging Spurs. They know it. They've been a special team ever since Duncan came into the league. The Clippers, on the other hand, are still pretty young overall, and Doc Rivers can lead them to the promised land as soon as next year. This year, I don't see the Spurs being denied, and will take it in 7 (maybe in 6?).
Eastern Conference Championship...
Featuring the Indiana Pacers against the Miami Heat. Did you watch the series between these teams last Spring? It was excellent sports viewing, with Miami coming through in the closing seconds of game 7. Indiana remembers it. They want to beat the Heat, but will need solid play from 3 or 4 guys in 4 games in order to do it. Lance, D West, and Paul George may be able to do it. Lance led the league in triple doubles this season, and he will get at least one in this series. The tables have turned. So long Heat...
Spurs vs. Pacers. The Spurs will have home court advantage over the Pacers, and will take home the trophy at the end of game 7!
Ok... first round's almost over, so it's time for a check in. Before I get started, let me just say these are the best playoffs I've ever seen! And, as I and others have learned, the league has become immersed in parity!
Alright... I picked San Antonio over Dallas in 6 games. They've taken the Spurs to 7.
I picked the Blazers in 7, but they did it in 6, which seemed like 9!
Golden State has been surprising in taking the Clippers to 7, which will be played today.
The "dust up" I alluded to regarding Memphis and OKC will likely cost the Gris the series, playing in the 7th game without Zach Randolph due to a suspension.
Who'd have thought the Hawks would take Indiana to 7 games? Not me, that's for sure. But they have. We'll see on that one.
I was way off with Chicago and the Wizards. The youngsters looked good in beating the Bulls in 5 (?)
Toronto and the Nets play their game 7 today.
And Miami squished the Bobcats as predicted.
I got 3 out of the four teams I picked to be in the Conference Finals. I'm not changing my mind. The Spurs will win it all!