There is no better time of the year than playoff basketball. This year is no different and I am beyond hyped for this weekend’s first round slate of games. With that said, I’m going to attempt to predict the future and tell you all who will win and why.
Celtics VS Bulls (Celtics in 5)
The only real clear advantage I see Chicago has in this series is on the glass. Boston ranks 27th in rebounding and haven’t been good on the boards for a while. However, Isaiah Thomas scoring 29 points per game covers over a multitude of sins. With the Bulls lack of outside shooting and Boston’s array of tough perimeter defenders, I’ll take Boston in five games.
Cavs VS Pacers (Cavs in 4)
I don’t see this one going very far at all. Indiana has been so inconsistent and even though the Cavs defense couldn’t guard a stick, the Pacers don’t have enough reliable scoring options outside of Paul George, who will likely be defended by LeBron James for the bulk of the series. Cavs win in a clean sweep.
Raptors VS Bucks (Raptors in 7)
This series might be the most intriguing to me. I think Toronto is the more balanced all-around team but it is well known around the league that Milwaukee’s length can bother almost any shot. I think the Raptors will have a hard time shooting over that length, but Toronto will still win in game seven due to their experience and bench depth.
Wizards VS Hawks (Wizards in 6)
This is the most evenly matched series we have in this year’s postseason. Every regular season game between these two was close and had a playoff atmosphere to them. Ultimately, Washington is the better team and the backcourt tandem of John Wall and Bradley Beal will prove to be too much for the Hawks, who are relatively thin at the guard position. Wizards in six.
Warriors VS Blazers (Warriors in 4)
I’m just going to keep this one short. The Warriors have Kevin Durant back, they have the best offense we have ever seen on a basketball court, and Portland has been absolutely atrocious on defense this whole season. Not a good mix if you’re a Blazers fan. Warriors win in a sweep.
Spurs VS Grizzlies (Spurs in 4)
San Antonio has the edge everywhere you look. More talent, better offense, better defense, more experience, and of course, better coach. I’m not betting against Gregg Popovich and you shouldn’t either. Spurs complete the sweep.
Rockets VS Thunder (Thunder in 7)
This series is exactly what you think it will be. A Western Conference duel between MVP candidates James Harden and Russell Westbrook. In their regular season meetings, the Rockets won 3 out of 4, but Westbrook outplayed Harden in about every game. I think this series will be different. I’m taking Oklahoma City because I’m not a believer of Houston’s three-pointer or bust style of play. No matter how well good your shooters are, EVERYONE eventually goes cold at some point. Golden State did last year in the finals and while all the attention is going to be on Harden and Westbrook, this series will inevitably come down to how well Houston shoots the long ball. I believe Andre Roberson, Victor Oladipo, and Russell Westbrook are terrific perimeter defenders that can bother Houston’s outside threats. Thunder win game seven in a close, hard-fought series.
Clippers VS Jazz (Jazz in 6)
I feel really bad for Chris Paul and I want him to get this “can’t get past the first round” monkey off his back but I just can’t. At least not this year. People don’t realize it but the Jazz are really scary. They don’t have that one superstar player but head coach Quinn Snyder has developed a culture centered around defense and it has panned out beautifully in Utah. But I’m super excited to see the matchup of DeAndre Jordan against Rudy Gobert. The two may be offensively challenged but they are top-flight defenders. Gobert has my vote for Defensive Player of the Year and Jordan consistently makes opposing players think twice about coming into the lane. If you’re looking for offense, this series isn’t for you. I have the Jazz winning in six games due to their floor balance, consistency, and superior defense.
We will be posting second round predictions soon.