Warriors (1) VS. Trail Blazers (8)
The Warriors enter the playoffs as one of the hottest teams this time of year. Winners of 15 of their last 16 games they are in good shape. The Warriors have all the pieces together Kevin Durant is back from his knee injury that kept him sidelined all of March, but allowed him to play in the final 3 regular season games. The “Baby-Faced Assassin,” Steph Curry is back and healthy this time too. In the playoffs last year he missed the first 3 games against the Blazers before having a coming out party in-game 4.
Portland isn’t just going to lay down they have a scoring machine in Damian Lillard who is from the Bay area and wont disappoint in showing up in this series also his counterpart C.J. McCollum can put the ball in the hoop too. The Blazers just have these two players there are question marks surrounding big man Jusuf Nurkic, who was acquired from Denver via trade deadline and posted 15.2 ppg, and 10.4 rebounds. Nurkic though has been sidelined with a right leg injury. Should Nurkic be somewhat healthy he could be a problem in the interior for the Warriors. He’ll be a problem but it still won’t be good enough to win this series.
Regular Season Series: Warriors 4-0 Playoff Prediction: Warriors in 4
Spurs (2) vs Grizzlies (7)
The Spurs struggled down the stretch losing 4 of their last 5 but so did the Grizzlies losing 5 of their last 6. This will be the first time in 19 years the Spurs tip-off a series without Hall of Fame PF Tim Duncan but that’s not a problem at all. San Antonio still has arguably the best two-way player and MVP candidate in Khawi Leonard on their roster; they also still have the leadership and playoff experience with Manu Giniobli, and Tony Parker & Paul Gasol.
First year Head Coach David Fizdale of Memphis has done a great job of getting the group to buy in to the winning attitude and culture he adopted from his stint in Miami. We all know what Memphis is about tough, gritty, and physical. With their core still in place with Conley, Gasol, & Randolph they will be a tough out but look for the Spurs to take care of business with Coach Pop in charge.
Regular Season Series: 2-2 Playoff Prediction: Spurs in 5
Oklahoma City Thunder (6) vs Houston Rockets (3)
Finally we get to probably the best First round matchup we’ll see in both conferences. There’s no shying away from the Harden vs Westbrook match up two of the top MVP candidates. It’ll be interesting to see who has the better numbers and who out performs who. We all know what Westbrook is about his historic season averaging a triple double 31.6 ppg, 10.7 RPG, and 10.4 assists per game. He’s going to need help if he wants to take down this dangerous Rockets team. Victor Oladipo, Steven Adams, and Enes Canter are going to have to show up and be great sidekicks if they want to pull of this upset.
James Harden is on a mission there’s a different look in his eyes he’s focused and ready to get this team over the hump. Harden who’s averaging 29.1 ppg, 11.2 assist, and 8.1 rebounds per game under first year head coach Mike D’Antoni. Houston is a wild card in these playoffs. It also helps that Harden has been assembled with probably the best Rocket squad in his tenure there. They play fast, have bigs that can score inside or they’ll spread the floor and out shoot you a handicap for the Thunder. This will be a fun and interesting series
Regular season series: Rockets 3-1 Playoff Prediction: Rockets in 6
Los Angeles Clippers (4) vs Utah Jazz (5)
This is a make or break year for the Clippers an early exit against Utah could force a break up between their big three, and even question Doc Rivers Job security. Something working in the Clippers favor though is a 7 game winning streak heading into these playoffs and 6 players on their roster averaging double figures. There’s no question Chris Paul is the heart and soul of this Clippers team and with him having missed the rest of the playoffs last year with a hand injury and this year with a thumb injury how durable can Paul be?
Utah is led by All-Star forward Gordon Hayward is averaging 22.0 ppg, Utah hasn’t had their team together all season. Derrick Favors is just now coming back; the Jazz will still get solid play out of players like Joe Johnson, Boris Diaw, & Rudy Gobert. Since Utah is surrounded by so many veterans this will make for a close and interesting series.
Regular Season Series: Clippers 3-1 Playoff Prediction: Clippers in 6