Here is a preview of the Conference Finals of the NBA playoffs, along with a recap of my 2nd round picks.
My 2nd round picks and the results
- Thunder in 7 – Grizzlies in 5
- Spurs in 6 - Spurs in 6
- Heat in 6 – Heat in 5
- Knicks in 7 – Pacers in 6
Yet again I underestimated the Grizzlies, even though Russell Westbrook was out for the Thunder, I still picked OKC to win in 7. Memphis lost a tough game one on the road in Oklahoma City then came out and won four straight. Kevin Durant definitely needed some more help, as he was constantly frustrated by a tough Memphis defense. Fortunately I was able to pick the Spurs series correctly, winning in 6 over Golden State. The Warriors have a nice team with a ton of potential, (Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes) but offensively the Spurs were just too much to handle. Considering how dominant Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol were in the post agianst OKC, the Spurs will have their hands full. San Antonio comes off an entertaining 6 game series against Golden State, a team that pretty much plays completely different than Memphis. The Spurs were tied in that series at 2-2, then won the final two games in San Antonio and Golden State, finishing off the upstart Warriors. The veteran Spurs will be in their 8th Conference Finals over the last 15 seasons, an incredible accomplishment. On the other hand, this is the first Conference Finals appearance for the Memphis Grizzlies. Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter have the job of defending the Memphis front-court that seems unstoppable at this point. While the Battle of Mike Conley vs. Tony Parker will be the key to victory for either team. I expect Tony Allen to guard Tony Parker often in this series, slowing down Parker, means slowing down the Spurs. Tayshaun Prince has really been a great pickup by the Grizzlies and is bringing some nice energy to the team starting at Small Forward. If there are two teams in the NBA that have the best chance of potentially knocking off the defending champion Miami Heat, it’s these two with their size and defense. I’ve gone against the Grizzlies twice now, I can’t do it a third time. Memphis in the NBA Finals?
- 2. San Antonio Spurs vs. 5. Memphis Grizzlies, Grizzlies in 6
The Miami Heat lost a stunner in game one at home against a motivated Bulls team, then won four straight easily for the most part. Dwyane Wade isn’t even playing at 100% and the Miami Heat are still rolling, due to the fact of unreal play by MVP LeBron James and quality minutes from roll players like, Chris Anderson, Norris Cole, Shane Battier etc. Of course Chris Bosh, the other part of the “Big 3″ is doing his part as well. As I mentioned in the 2nd round preview of the Knicks – Pacers series, whoever took a game on the road, likely was going to win the series. The Pacers did just that, winning game one at New York and frustrating Knicks fans around the world after taking the series in 6. Maybe Carmelo Anthony isn’t an elite player, but just an elite scoring threat? That’s a different discussion for another day. Knicks will have some trouble improving that team in the off-season though, their time to win was now. Indiana won that series without Danny Granger, one of their star players. Lance Stephenson instead stepped up for them, piling up huge numbers after being just a bench player last season. Indiana gets a shot at redemption versus Miami, after being up 2-1 in the Conference Semi-Finals last season, the Pacers fell 4-2. The Pacers will certainly pose problems for the Miami Heat, a defensive minded ball club with the likes of Roy Hibbert down low in the post, and Paul George, Lance Stephenson guarding the perimeter. This team probably has the best shot in the East of defeating the Miami Heat (Aside from a healthy Bulls team) so maybe the Pacers can pull off the upset. Paul George gets the job of defending LeBron James and Lance Stephenson likely guards Dwyane Wade. Last season, this series was really fun to watch, but no Granger for Indiana this time around. David West really has to carry the load offensively if Indiana wants to succeed against Miami. LeBron and Wade will probably go right after Hibbert, looking to get him in foul trouble. It’s tough picking against the Heat, they’ve been on a complete tear over the last 50 games they’ve played.
- 1. Miami Heat vs. 3. Indiana Pacers, Heat in 6