Here is a preview and prediction of the 2nd round of the NBA playoffs, along with a recap of my 1st round picks.
My 1st round picks and the results
- Thunder in 5 – Thunder over Rockets in 6
- Clippers in 7 – Grizzlies over Clippers in 6
- Nuggets in 6 – Warriors over Nuggets in 6
- Spurs in 5 – Spurs over Lakers in 4
- Heat in 4 – Heat over Bucks in 4
- Bulls in 7 – Bulls over Nets in 7
- Pacers in 5 – Pacers over Hawks in 6
- Knicks in 6 – Knicks over Celtics in 6
Oklahoma City escaped the upstart Houston Rockets after Russell Westbrook went down with that season ending injury, but it wasn’t easy. James Harden and the Rockets extended the series to 6 games but couldn’t bring it back to OKC for game 7. As for the Grizzlies, they won four straight over the Clippers, convincingly, after being down 2-0 in the series. Sure the Clippers are extremely overrated and are pretty much nothing without Chris Paul being a dominant force at point guard, but what the Grizzlies did to them was impressive. Constantly frustrating the Clippers on the defensive side of the ball with a grind it out style. Randolph and Gasol make scoring in the post difficult for opposing teams due to their size and physicality. With Tony Allen being one of the best defenders in the league combined with Tayshaun Prince’s length, the Thunder with have a tough time scoring. Besides Kevin Durant, guys like Kevin Martin, Serge Ibaka and Reggie Jackson will have to do their part and score with consistency to help the Thunder get by Memphis. Before the Grizzlies and Clippers series, I originally chose Memphis in 6, but changed my mind last second because I thought maybe, just maybe the Clippers wouldn’t disappoint, having home court advantage. Mistake by me not going with my original thought. The Grizzlies are a good, tough team. Unfortunately I’m going to go against them again. Memphis will be going up against better defensive big men in Ibaka and Perkins, but this series is a toss up to me since Westbrook won’t be playing. Conley should have an easier time against Reggie Jackson, but I’ll stand by OKC. Memphis took the regular season series 2-1.
- 1. Oklahoma City Thunder vs. 5. Memphis Grizzlies, Thunder in 7
Well the Golden State Warriors definitely proved me wrong, I had little faith in them beating even a depleted Nuggets team and they did in 6 games. The Warriors scored at will and the Nuggets were constantly trying to keep up. According to bleacherreport.com, Steph Curry averaged 24.3 points per game, while shooting just over 43% from the three point line. Curry certainly excelled Golden State to a series win over Denver and he will have to continue to put up excellent numbers against a veteran Spurs team. Golden State fans are excited about this Warriors team, and they should be. It’s a fast paced bunch that gets up and down the floor in a hurry, having the drive to win, even against expectations. Andrew Bogut provided the energy and defensive post presence that helped Golden State get past Denver. This Spurs team is a different animal though, and will be a tough test for them. San Antonio is rolling right now, peaking at the right time, while being healthy. They are a take care of business team and did just that against the Lakers. Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli and Tim Duncan are all clicking and it should be interesting watching this group go against the young, upstart Warriors. The Spurs will shoot better against the Warriors than the Nuggets did, so I’m going with San Antonio.
- 2. San Antonio Spurs vs. 6. Golden State Warriors, Spurs in 6
Watching the Chicago Bulls win game 7 was pretty awesome, considering the circumstances (No Derrick Rose, Kirk Heinrich, Luol Deng, Rip Hamilton) of being an injury scattered squad. Lucky for Chicago, they are a deep team that plays with heart and toughness. The Bulls certainly want to win bad and all series long, guys like Joakim Noah and Nate Robinson proved it. Both players putting in career performances along the way. But if they want to stand a chance against the defending, world champion, Miami Heat, they’ll at least need a somewhat healthy Luol Deng. I really like this Chicago team a lot and think they can hang with Miami, already proving that by splitting the season series, but the Heat are pretty much completely healthy (besides Dwyane Wade) and have won something like 43 out of their last 45 games. I know, ridiculous. LeBron James is the catalyst to this Heat dominance and appears on a mission for another run at the NBA finals. According to multiple reports, LeBron James will win his 4th MVP. If the Bulls want to win this series, they’ll have to shoot lights out from three and try to somewhat contain LeBron. But Chicago has to do what they did in the last meeting between the two, be physical and go at LeBron when he gets to the rim. Playoff basketball at it’s finest has to be displayed by both teams in order to win this series. I expect plenty of physical play and free throws. Hey, who knows, maybe Derrick Rose will be back for game one?
- 1. Miami Heat vs. 5. Chicago Bulls, Heat in 6
Old rivals go at it again, Knicks vs. Pacers. New York took a 3-0 series lead over Boston, then ended up taking the series in 6 games. Defensive minded teams like the Celtics and Pacers give New York a difficult time, and the Pacers will do just that against the Knicks. Fortunately for New York, the Pacers looked completely terrible for two games in Atlanta, even though winning game 6 on the road. Carmelo needs to put up better numbers if they expect a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals and the Pacers will need big scoring from Paul George and David West. Indiana doesn’t have a very good bench and New York has the 6th man of the year in J.R. Smith, so it’s interesting seeing how the benches will play out. Considering how bad Indiana looked for games 3 and 4 in Atlanta, I really like the Knicks in this series. Not sure if either team will lose at home, so I’m taking the Knicks barely getting by the Pacers. I’m sure it will be fun to watch and if either team can somehow steal a victory on the road, you’ll have to like their chances.
- 2. New York Knicks vs. 3. Indiana Pacers, Knicks in 7
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