The NBA Playoffs start tonight, so I’m gonna throw together a quick preview and make sure I make my predictions before the first game starts. This should be an exciting playoffs, because there’s so many teams that have a legitimate shot at winning it all. Here’s my list:
Warriors, Rockets, Blazers, Grizzlies, Spurs, Hawks, Cavaliers, Bulls
Why the Warriors Have a Chance: They led the league in FG% and opponent FG% this year. I’m pretty sure that’s never happened before. I can’t find anything to back that up right now. In Hollinger’s efficiency ratings, they’re second offensively and first defensively. They’re really good.
Why the Rockets Have a Chance: Houston finished 56-26, and Dwight Howard missed 41 games. Last year, Houston was a great offensive team, but bad on defense. This year they’ve improved their defense… replacing Chandler Parsons with Trevor Ariza and adding Josh Smith and Corey Brewer to their bench. If Dwight Howard’s knee heals well and Trevor Ariza shoots well from the 3, they’ll be dangerous.
Why the Blazers Have a Chance: They have two go-to scorers in Lillard and Aldridge, they play good defense, they shoot the ball well, and they seem to have lots of motivation to prove themselves. With Damian Lillard running the show, you can’t overlook the Blazers.
Why the Grizzlies Have a Chance: They will play great defense and move the ball well offensively. They don’t necessarily have a go-to scorer, but their offense works pretty well with a combination of a little Mike Conley, a little Z-Bo and a little Marc Gasol. Jeff Green is a great fit at the 3 and Vince Carter is a great guy to have on the floor at the end of the game.
Why the Spurs Have a Chance: Because of reasons.
Why the Hawks Have a Chance: I hate to say it, but I just don’t have a lot of confidence in the Hawks. I love their style of play, and I think they’ll cut the Nets to pieces and should be favored to make the Eastern Conference Finals, but I just don’t think they’re talented enough to win it all. I’ll be rooting for them, and I think they have a chance, but probably the slightest chance of the teams on this list. That said, everyone saw how the Spurs destroyed the Heat in the Finals and the Hawks have that kind of potential.
Why the Cavaliers Have a Chance: They have the best 1-2 punch in the league with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, and they’re starting to play really well off each other. They’re going to be fun to watch. Kevin Love is still just as good as the guy who averaged 26 and 12 last year.
Why the Bulls Have a Chance: 2012. The Bulls finished the season tied for the best record in the league. Derrick Rose is a former league MVP looking to win his first title. But in the final minutes of a Game 1 win against the Sixers, Rose comes down hard on his left knee. Torn ACL. Bulls lose in six. Rose ends up sitting out the next year recovering, but the Bulls play well without him. Rose sits behind the bench as Nate Robinson tries to carry the Bulls over LeBron and the Heat, but the Heat are just too good for the Bulls without their star. Heading into the 2013-14 season, everyone is looking forward to Rose’s comeback and the Bulls are seen as the only team in the East with a chance against Miami. The season for Rose starts okay, as he’s a little shaky but shows some flashes of the MVP player he once was. Then on November 22nd, the gut-wrenching news comes out that Derrick Rose had torn his meniscus and that his season was over. Again. This brings us to the summer of 2014, when Rose decided to play for Team USA in the FIBA World Cup. He played pretty well, saying that he felt healthy and ready to go. We all watched Rose struggle through the first couple of months of the season. He seemed to alternate good games and bad games, flashes of brilliance and days of disappointment. Then in February, we found out that he’d torn his right meniscus for a second time. This is where we saw Derrick Rose’s determination. When everyone thought that he was done, that maybe his career was over, Derrick Rose worked his way back to health. In time for the playoffs.
Derrick Rose will never again be the MVP of the league. Who knows? He might not ever be an All Star. But there’s one thing that Derrick Rose is that can’t be taken away from him. He’s the heart of the Chicago Bulls. And he’s still going.
That said, here’s my predictions:
WESTERN CONFERENCE FIRST ROUND
Warriors vs Pelicans: Warriors in 5
Blazers vs Grizzlies: Grizzlies in 7
Clippers vs Spurs: Clippers in 6
Rockets vs Mavericks: Rockets in 6
EASTERN CONFERENCE FIRST ROUND
Hawks vs Nets: Hawks in 4
Raptors vs Wizards: Wizards in 7
Bulls vs Bucks: Bulls in 5
Cavaliers vs Celtics: Cavaliers in 4
WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMI-FINALS
Warriors vs Grizzlies: Warriors in 7
Rockets vs Clippers: Clippers in 7
EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMI-FINALS
Hawks vs Wizards: Hawks in 7
Cavaliers vs Bulls: Bulls in 6
WEST: Warriors vs Clippers: Warriors in 6
EAST: Hawks vs Bulls: Bulls in 6
Warriors vs Bulls
WARRIORS in 7