Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul Suffered a fracture right hand during a game 4 98-84 loss against the Blazers. Paul was guarding Gerald Henderson in the third quarter and reached for the ball but got his hand stuck in Hendersons jersey. Paul exited the game with 6:07 left in the third and headed to the bench, Paul was then examined by head trainer Jasen Powell after a conversation between Paul and Powell you could see the frustration on Pauls face, plus him shaking his head constantly. Paul then headed to the locker not before letting out his frustration by kicking a seat cushion on the floor. Paul ended up finishing the game with 16 points.
The bigger problem for the Clippers now is the series is tied now at 2-2 headed back to Los Angeles. But with an addition to Paul the Clippers may be with out forward Blake Griffin. Griffin was seen noticeably limping off of the court before heading to the bench where he would hold his head down. Griffin could be seen rubbing what looked to be his left quad, the same quad that kept him out a significant amount of time. Griffin will be reevaluated again tomorrow. If the Clippers wont have Griffin or Paul this changes a lot going forward.
The Raptors lost game 4 100-83 Saturday to the Indian Pacers, while the series is tied 2-2 headed back to Toronto the real problem is All-Star guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan shooting woes. The two combined to shoot 8-for-27 in game and 0-7 from downtown. During the regular season they were in the top five for best scoring duo averaging 44.7 points a game. During this post season they are shooting 30.8 percent from the field.
Winter Time for Raptors Duo
Shooting by the Raptors starting back court in their first round series against the Pacers
Golden State Warriors (No. 1 seed) vs. Houston Rockets (No. 8 seed)
Prediction: Warriors in 5
The Warriors beat the Rockets in all three meetings this regular season by an average of 13 points. Don’t expect Houston to pull off the upset this post season though. Simply put the Warriors are a better overall team than the Rockets. Steph and company will be too much for James Harden, interim Head Coach J.B. Bickerstaff and the Rockets, but do expect Harden to erupt for 40 one night to steal one game in Houston.
San Antonio Spurs (No.2 seed) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (No. 7 seed)
Prediction: Spurs in 4
The Spurs enter the Playoffs healthy,rested, and tested. Notching the best regular season home record in NBA history (40-1). Look for the Spurs to display dominance against a Memphis team that limped into the playoffs. Losing their two best players in signal caller Mike Conley and big man Marc Gasol, Memphis finished 2-14 in their last 16 games and 1-10 in their last 11 look for the Grizzles to go fishing early this year.
Oklahoma City Thunder (No.3 seed) vs. Dallas Mavericks (No. 6 seed)
Prediction: Thunder in 5
The Thunder have two of the top players in the league in Point Guard Russell Westbrook and Forward Kevin Durant. Look for OKC to put Dallas in one on one and transition where the Mavericks struggle most of the year. But to counter that the Mavericks have experience with one of the best coaches in the league in Rick Carlisle, while the Thunder have Rookie Head Coach Billy Donovan who’s taking a lot of heat for a lot of his teams fourth quarter meltdowns. Mavericks steal one game because of coaching, but the better team the Thunder win the series.
Los Angeles Clippers (No. 4 seed) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (No. 5 seed)
Prediction: Clippers in 5
The Clippers beat the Trail Blazers four out of the 5 meetings in the regular season without superstar Blake Griffin. Now that Griffin is back from his quad injury that cost him most of the season how effective can he be? One thing we can count on is high pick in roll situations between Chris Paul, D’andre Jordan, and Griffin. Damien Lillard seems to struggle when he’s put into these situations. Lillard and C.J. McCollum will be able to will the Blazers to one win at home but the Clippers are to talented to lose more than one game.
Cleveland Cavaliers (No. 1 seed) vs. Detroit Pistons (No. 8 seed)
Prediction: Cavaliers in 4
Although the Detroit Pistons won the regular season series 3-1 against the Cavs, don’t count on them beating the Cavaliers in the post season this many times. LeBron James led teams are 10-0 in the First round of the Playoffs. One bad strike against Detroit, The Cavs come into the this post season healthier than last year 2nd strike, injuries to Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving put a huge load on James last year. Lastly this is the first time in 7 years the young Stan Van Gundy led Pistons have made a post season appearance. But watch out for a 20 point and 20 rebound performance form Detroit big man Andre Drummond he’ll need help if the pistons want to steal a game.
Toronto Raptors (No. 2 seed) vs. Indiana Pacers (No. 7 seed)
Prediction: Raptors in 7
After posting the best regular season record in franchise history with 56 wins the Raptors look to avenge their post season woes after being swept out of the First Round last year, Toronto looks to make a push to the Eastern Conference Finals with their dynamic backcourt in Kyle Lowry,DeMar Derozan and big man Jonas Valanciunas controlling the paint. This Paul George led Pacers team looks to upset the “NORTH”. Rookie Myles Turner has shown flashes of what is to come in the future, being able to play inside and have a mid-range jump shot plus being able to knock down the 3 ball is dangerous. The Pacers will put the defensive clamps on the Raptors for 2 games but the Raptors will figure things out and get past them.
Miami Heat (No. 3 seed) vs Charlotte Hornets (No. 6 seed)
Prediction: Heat in 6
The Miami Heat and the Hornets are pretty evenly matched and predicate winning games on playing great Defense. The Heat will miss All-Star big man Chris Bosh due to recurring blood clots. Theres no need to worry, the Heat will be led by Heat lifer Dwyane Wade and champions Head Coach Erik Spoelstra. Along his side will be youth and experience, young supporting cast for the Heat will feature big man Hassan Whitteside who can have 20 point, 20 rebound, and 10 blocks night any night, Rookies Justice Winslow and Josh Richardson will be huge off the bench but so is the addition of Joe Johnson who the Heat got after a buyout with the Brooklyn Nets. Don’t look for the Hornets to backdown lack of defense from Heat Guard Goran Dragic will allow Kemba Walker to create his own shot, handle the ball tremendously and get his teammates involved.
Atlanta Hawks (No. 4 seed) vs Boston Celtics (No. 5 seed)
Prediction: Hawks in 6
The Celtics and Hawks enter the post season with the same record 48-34. but the Hawks took 3 out of the 4 regular season games against them. The Hawks are led by their trio in Point Guard Jeff Teague, forwards Paul Millsap and Al Horford. plus it helps that the Hawks can go to backup guard Dennis Schroder at any time for a spark. But third year Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens had done an outstanding job with team he has the players playing at a higher level. Point guard Isiah Thomas knows how to get the hoop really well and he also knows how to get to the free throw line too. Jae Crowder is back to lock down people defensively and you cant forget the best on ball defender for the Celtics in Avery Bradley. It also helps that they have forwards Kelly Olynyk, Jared Sullinger, plus Amir Johnson to space the floor and Tyler Zeller to clean the glass.
The Toronto Raptorswent 49-33 in the regular season last year which earned them the number 4 spot in the Eastern Conference. Ultimately the Raptors ended up getting swept by John Wall, Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards in the first round of the 2015 NBA Playoffs. Fast forward to this year where they tremendously improved their record to 56-26 and locked up the number 2 seed. It also helps that the Raptors have one of the top back courts in the NBA with Demar Derozan and Kyle Lowry. Derozan averaging 21.4 points a game and 4.3 assist while Lowry is averaging 22.0 points a game and 6.3 assist. Toronto has lost 7 straight playoff games, so lets hope that they can defeat the Indian Pacers in the first round this year.
The OKC Thunder are back in the NBA Playoffs holding the number 3 seed. This year they have there two studs back Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. The Mavericks won’t be able to stop them but how will they be able to contain these two.
Russell Westbrook vs. Devin Harris, Deron Williams, and Wesley Matthews
Russell Westbrook is known to give anybody guarding him a headache on any given night. His quickness and just natural athletic freakness separates him from the pack. With a smaller Devin Harris guarding Westbrook, look for a lot of Westbrook to be posting him up on the low block and finishing or kicking out to his shooters. With Deron Williams trying to defend Westbrook it’s simple youth vs old age, look for the Thunder to try to get easy transitions buckets off rebounds by getting the older Williams running trying to defend. Against Wesley Matthews look for the Thunder to try to run pick and roll offense with Westbrook to free him up, but if you use Matthews on Westbrook that leaves you another problem, Kevin Durant.
Kevin Durant vs Justin Anderson
Although rookie Justin Anderson is the Mavericks best on ball defender, this is his first time in the playoffs. The veteran Durant will look to take advantage of Anderson whether its coming off screens for mid range jumpers or even going iso this will be a very tough matchup for Anderson.
A Tale of Two Coaches
One thing that the Mavericks have over the Thunder is in the coaching department. Billy Donovan is in his first year as the Thunder Head Coach, previously coaching and winning National Championships at Florida, Donovan took the good with the bad being able to to take over a team with 2 of the top 5 players in the league is good, really good. But The Thunder seem to blow big leads when there are up entering the fourth quarter, nine times they have blown leads and loss the contest. Rick Carlisle brings lots of experience to this series having won the NBA Title in 2011 as the Mavericks Head Coach he also brings his 619 NBA wins and 57 more in the playoffs.