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Time to Seed the NBA Playoffs 1-16

Time to Seed the NBA Playoffs 1-16

While the West got wilder the East took a step back. The 2017 NBA Free Agency period was anything but a disappointment some may say most players wanted to get out of the East because of LeBron James and his dominance with seven straight Finals appearance. But the biggest superstars that transitioned from the Eastern Conference to the Western Conference were dealt via trade.

Jimmy Butler was traded on draft night from the Chicago Bulls to the Minnesota Timberwolves in return Chicago received point guard Kris Dunn, and a potential star in Zach LaVine who’s coming off an ACL injury.

Indiana Pacers President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard, had different deals in place for star forward Paul George but ultimately ended up sending him out West to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Victor Oladipo & Domantas Sabonis. The move was clearly out of spite so George wouldn’t be on a contending team in the East.

With these big names going West this leaves the Eastern Conference “top-heavy as s***”, teams like the Washington Wizards, Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, & Toronto Raptors will all secure top 4 spots again. Gordon Hayward made the jump from the Utah Jazz to the Boston Celtics but his move was a no brainer the small forward position is going to be loaded in the West with players like Kevin Durant, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, & Jimmy Butler. Hayward knew staying in the stacked West his opportunity was shrinking on him getting closer to a title along with his individual goals as well, such as making All-NBA Team and getting back on the All-Star Team. Going East increases the chances of Hayward getting to the Finals and he’s a lock to be on the All-Star Team.

Time for Change:

Commissioner Adam Silver needs to consider seeding the NBA Playoffs 1-16 instead of having this jaded Eastern Conference vs Western Conference. This would force more teams and players to take the regular season more seriously, games would be more competitive, and you get the best 16 teams in the Playoffs. Yes they do play an 82 game schedule which is exhausting but players get bored and most teams check out mentally from the middle of January until after the All-Star break.

Also this would help with the NBA “resting” problem, the San Antonio Spurs started this controversy but teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers and others have taken it to another level. At times the Cavaliers would rest Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, & Kevin Love on road trips the Cavs weren’t concerned about the consequences of resting players they always knew they’d grab either a one or two seed come Playoff time. With a 16 team format teams would be more conscious about resting players, they would want to try to avoid playing a San Antonio or Golden State sooner than they’d have to.

Lastly Playoff match ups, the only Eastern Conference Playoffs series I watched from the beginning to the end was the match up between the Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards. Granted the East has young up and coming talent but other than that the Eastern Conference playoffs were boring there’s a reason why the Toronto Raptors & Milwaukee Bucks first round series were mostly showed on NBA TV, not ESPN or TNT. Now you take Paul George & Jimmy Butler out the East we could potentially have a high 30 win NBA team making the Playoffs.

2017 NBA Matchups

WvE

Teams Seeded 1-16

new plyoff bracket

Fans of the NBA would be more tuned in and ratings would spike up with a format like this, it’s not anything we’ve seen before this is March Madness on steroids. This takes away from fans complaining that the Playoffs were boring, yes we did watch Cleveland and Golden State go a combined 24-1 before the Finals. There wouldn’t be a cake walk for any team or a dominance displayed it would be drama, good drama that we as sport fans want. Even better we could potentially get Finals match ups before the Finals.

As much as we would all like to see a format of this caliber it’s going to take some time. NBA owners would have to approve of it while some will, there are owners in the East that won’t because that would mean their sub .500 team that made the Playoffs previously before wouldn’t get in which means they’d be losing money and they’re not about that. Will it happen in the next two years probably not, but we will have a 1-16 seeded NBA Playoff format eventually.

Why the Cleveland Cavaliers Should Keep LeBron James Happy

Why the Cleveland Cavaliers Should Keep LeBron James Happy

Build It They Will Come

LeBron James is coming off his seventh straight Finals appearance three with the Cleveland Cavaliers since returning to the Land in 2015. Cleveland did an outstanding job with setting up their future they were so bad during the years James was in South Beach collecting rings with the guy who runs Miami (Pat Riley). They were able to win the draft lottery three separate times and acquired Kyrie Irving in 2011, Anthony Bennett in 2013, then selected Andrew Wiggins in 2014. 

After 4 seasons with the Miami Heat winning two championships before losing 4-1 his final year against the San Antonio Spurs in the 2014 Finals, it was time for James to return back home. He had good young talent waiting for him in Cleveland they just needed a leader to show them how to win. His first business of order returning was to get Minnesota Timberwolves Power Forward Kevin Love, before Wiggins even played in a preseason game with Cleveland he was shipped to Minnesota with Anthony Bennett, & Thaddeus Young for Kevin Love. 

bron ring

LeBron led Cleveland to the Finals his first year with their big 3 but lost Love for the rest of the postseason in Game 4 of the opening round against Boston. Then Kyrie Irving went down during the Finals in Game 1. They ultimately lost the series 4-2 to the Golden State Warriors but they knew what they could do with all their horses healthy. 2016 Finals rematch, this time Cleveland had everyone healthy they were ready, but they fell behind in the series 3-1 everyone including myself deemed the series over. LeBron James single-handedly snatched everything from Steph Curry and company, Cleveland rattled off 3 straight wins to capture the Larry O’Brien Trophy arguably giving them the best comeback in sports history.

Lions Order

Late January the Cavs suffered their fifth loss in seven games, this time to the New Orleans Pelicans who were without Anthony Davis. LeBron sounded off-putting everyone on notice following the game “I just hope we’re not satisfied as an organization” James conveyed “we’re not better than last year, from a personnel standpoint.” After winning the Finals, Cleveland didn’t resign Timofey Mozgov or crowd favorite Matthew Dellavedova they added rookie point guard Kay Felder, plus Mike Dunleavy (who got traded for Kyle Korver.) 

“It’s great to have bodies,” James explained. “Obviously, in the playoffs, you go down to what, eight max? And if somebody gets in foul trouble, you go to nine. You’re not playing back-to-backs. You have two days in between. You’re able to lock in.” 

NBA teams are playing back to backs plus sometimes four games in five nights. Not to mention getting on an airplane in the middle of the night flying across different time zones not getting into your hotel room until the wee hours of the morning. It’s very taxing also it takes a toll on the body. 

“It’s like when you don’t have bodies. It’s tough,” James expressed. “The f—ing grind of the regular season. We’re a top-heavy team. We have a top-heavy team. We top-heavy as s—. It’s me, Kyrie IrvingKevin Love. It’s top-heavy.”

“We need a f—ing playmaker,” James uttered. “I’m not saying you can just go find one, like you can go outside and see trees. I didn’t say that.” “We got to figure it out,” he said. “It’s been a s—ty 2017 so far.”

confused bron

When the best player in the world makes a statement like that you listen, his frustrations boiled over due to Cleveland losing games, poor defense, injury to J.R. Smith that sidelined him for majority of the season, & veteran point guard Mo Williams not coming to camp. At the time Cleveland GM David Griffin started making roster moves for the ball club, they acquired point guard Deron Williams off waivers from the Dallas Mavericks hoping they would get the Williams from his Brooklyn Nets days that didn’t happen. Then they signed wing man Derrick Williams who they thought would provide them quality minutes coming off the bench, solid defense, along with someone who could shoot the three ball he just didn’t get enough playing time. One of the two last moves the Cavs made was signing big man Andrew Bogut who was traded from Dallas to Philadelphia but agreed with the Sixers to part ways. 

The Cavs weren’t worried about the East at all, they knew they’d meet Golden State in the Finals they had hopes of exploiting the Warriors knowing they were weak inside. Unfortunately for Cleveland and Bogut his tenure was cut short 58 seconds into his debut he broke his fibula, just like that he was done for the year. To replace Andrew Bogut the Cavs reached out and signed Larry Sanders a young center who was up on the rise before having to take a two-year hiatus because of personal issues. The Sanders project didn’t work out forcing the Cavaliers to waive him. 

After all the moves GM David Griffin did post LeBron rant, James was asked if he expected Griffin to be back due to his expiring contract “It makes no sense why he shouldn’t get an extension,” James lobbied to reporters. James continues  “He’s pulled every move—he’s tried to make every move happen—to better this team to be able to compete for a championship. So we wouldn’t be in this position, obviously, without him and without the guys that are here—from the coaching staff to the players to Griff. He’s been a big piece of it.”

Party’s Over

After the Cleveland Cavaliers were virtually swept out the 2017 NBA Finals by the Golden State Warriors in the Trilogy. The Cavs had a lot of reflecting to do, LeBron was sensational averaging a triple double for the series practically playing every minute. Kyrie Irving struggled at times but had games where the real Kyrie showed up most notably Game 4 when Irving dropped 40. It was the others that were concerns, Kevin Love was exposed defensively and never really showed up at all. J.R. Smith didn’t start playing basketball until the close out game where he scored 26 points but combined in the first 3 games for 19 points. Channing Fry didn’t get much minutes. Then the 82 million dollar man Tristan Thompson was under/still is trapped by the Kardashian curse. 

bench2

Performances by these players showed LeBron that Cleveland needed another super star if they wanted to compete with these Warriors. The Cavs have been linked to Paul George (Before the Oklahoma City Thunder Trade), Carmelo Anthony, and Dwayne Wade. The problem for Cleveland is that they are so much over the salary cap they virtually can’t sign a big name free agent. A deal for Carmelo Anthony or Dwayne Wade in a Cavs uniform would have to come via buyout. I can’t see Carmelo Anthony waving his no trade clause now from the New York Knicks since Phil Jackson is gone, also Melo is dealing with family and personal issues he’s trying to workout. Bulls Guard Dwayne Wade has 24 plus million reasons to stay put in Chicago but maybe he can be bought out if the franchise wants to go in a different direction as the season unravels. 

LALA Land

I’m pretty sure this isn’t the last time you’ll be hearing this but don’t count out Los Angeles as a possible destination for LeBron. The Lakers, not the Clippers there’s no way in hell LeBron is considering playing for the Clippers for two different reasons. 1. The Clippers just got rid of a huge attraction for LeBron his best friend Chris Paul, James has been quoted over the years saying he’d love to play with his close friends Paul being one but he’s in Houston now. So that’s out the equation, 2. You remember when the Clippers had that owner by the name of Donald Sterling? I don’t want to even get into his asinine comments, even though he’s banned for life from the NBA his name will always be linked to the team. 

If there’s anyone in position to bring show time back it’s LeBron James, the Lakers have good young pieces in place Brandon Ingram is showing promise and if Lonzo Ball turns out to be as good as Lavar Ball says they’ll be fun to watch. Paul George could potentially return back home to L.A. as a free agent in 2018 if things don’t work out in OKC. George has been on record saying that he would love to be a Laker, still not convinced LeBron will come? Just be patience, James has expressed that one day he would like to be an NBA owner with an addition to that, one of his favorite players of all time was Magic Johnson. Johnson, who’s in the Lakers front office would be the perfect person for LeBron to follow and see how things are conducted. Not to mention James childhood friends, sports agent, business partner Maverick Carter and Rich Paul both have houses out in the Hollywood Hills area of California. Klutch Sports Agency that James is signed too that’s founded by Rich Paul moved their headquarters out to Los Angeles. Before the NBA Finals started James 21 million dollar L.A. home that he purchased was in the news for a cowardly act done by someone, although most athletes love to spend their off-seasons in California for a variety of reasons, most just rent out houses they don’t buy them straight out.  

jay & bron

Unlike the move from Cleveland to Miami that was strictly about understanding how to build a winning culture while getting rings. LeBron came back with a promising goal, he fulfilled his promise to the City of Cleveland he said he was going to bring a title to the Land and he did. He virtually doesn’t owe the Cavs anything. Now the move from Cleveland to Los Angeles won’t be about basketball or winning, if you’re wondering why would he go to the West where the Warriors are? At this point in his career the King has done it all he has 3 NBA Championships, named Finals MVP, multiple MVP trophies, been on multiple All NBA First Teams, countless records that he’s broke, and records that he’s chasing. He’s going to be on Mount Rushmore, he’s going to be a First Ballot Hall of Famer, there’s nothing more James can do to solidify his legacy it’s already written in stone. The only way to open this discussion back up is by him winning another ring then we’ll say how close can he get to Michael Jordan with winning titles? 

The move for James will be about his off the court in devours he will be 33 at the end of the year, he doesn’t have much time left to play this game. Every athlete knows at some point you have to start planning for life after the game. L.A. is the perfect place to do all the things James loves to do when he’s not playing ball. Movies, he has his own media company on the lot of Warner Bros Studio in Los Angeles plus he has starred in a couple of films. Music, friends in the game such as Drake, Kendrick Lamar reside on the West Coast most notably one of his closest friends, Mogul Jay-Z has a house and multiple businesses in L.A. Hov is the same one that convinced Kevin Durant to sign with the Warriors to expand his brand. Fashion, LeBron is easily one of the best dressed players in the league besides NY where else could he go to take part in this? Lastly the brand of LeBron James, it’s already big & world-wide but Cleveland compared to Los Angeles the markets are on two totally different economic and lifestyle depths, LeBron James in the California market would double maybe even triple the sales of a Cleveland market. 

It’s Your World

As long as Dan Gilbert remains the Cavaliers Owner he & LeBrons relationships will always be rocky, due to the way Gilbert handled things the first time he departed.If I’m Gilbert I’m consulting with James about every free agent player he would like, plus changes he wants to the roster. Gilbert isn’t off to a good start, he didn’t give former GM Dave Griffin a contract extension, James wasn’t notified or consulted about the decision he found out like everyone else. This prompted James to voice his feelings about Griffin and the move via Twitter. The Cavs have been interviewing former champion and Hall of Famer Chauncey Billups for the position over the past week. All that is good but they need someone in that role ASAP someone who is going to make roster moves that please James. Next the Cavalier Owner was seen at the White House Celebration with the Chicago Cubs celebrating their World Series win with President Trump who James openly campaigned against. 

This isn’t a good look for the Cavaliers or the owner. So Gilbert can continue to mess around with house money by not putting the necessary pieces around to keep LeBron James but the King has shown his hand before by taking his talents else where, this time it’d be much easier for him to leave the organization that he calls home. 

ALL EYES ON KD

ALL EYES ON KD

A lot has changed since the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead in the Finals last year to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Injury to rim protector Andrew Bogut that caused him to miss the last 2 Finals games plus disappointing performances from players like Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli, and the back to back MVP Stephen Curry. A mixture of all these things had Warriors GM Bob Myers on record leaving game 7 saying “We will be very aggressive this offseason”(NBA Free Agency). On the outside looking in you’re thinking how much more aggressive can you be? You have the best shooting back court in NBA history with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, a Swiss army knife in Draymond Green, with a supporting cast that’s capable of giving you solid bench scoring most teams don’t have.

Lampin In the Hamptons- June 30th, Draymond Green, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Owner Joe Lacob, and GM Bob Myers are in the Hamptons to make their pitch to Kevin Durant. They have their virtual reality goggles set up for Durant to watch as a spectator sitting court side of him playing with Golden State. He never saw what it would look like a technological malfunction happened. So the Warriors were forced to use their words, Draymond gave something for KD to ponder about “How many championships do you think we can win with the way the team is now?” “How many championships can you win without us?” “How many do you think we can win together?” That meeting concluded & Curry texted Durant later on letting him know that he doesn’t care whose team it is, or who sells the most shoes (Curry is the face of Under Armour and Durant is key player on Nike), it’s about championships with me Curry laments to him.

hamptons

The Call- It was Saturday night & Kevin Durant got a call from (the logo) Warriors advisor and legend Jerry West, the two chatted and West told Durant how he lost in the Finals 7 times before winning it his 12th year in the league, West let KD know that those losses still haunt him to this day. Making his pitch he told Durant that by joining the Warriors it would take a lot of pressure off of him and he’d be able to get easier looks. It’s highly noted why this would make sense for Durant, playing in OKC with All-Star Russell Westbrook, he would sometimes have to take a backseat to the point guard Westbrook who would take bad shots, have costly turnovers, or try to play hero ball at times. This was frustrating for Durant, West reassured him that none of this would happen playing with Steph, Draymond, & Klay shots would come easier, scoring would be easier, and he wouldn’t have to carry the load from game to game.

Set it off- July 4th comes Kevin Durant announces via Players Tribune “The primary mandate I had for myself in making this decision was to have it based on the potential for my growth as a player — as that has always steered me in the right direction,” Durant wrote. “But I am also at a point in my life where it is of equal importance to find an opportunity that encourages my evolution as a man: moving out of my comfort zone to a new city and community which offers the greatest potential for my contribution and personal growth.”With this in mind, I have decided that I am going to join the Golden State Warriors.”螢幕快照-2017-02-10-上午9.57.24.png

Bigger Than Basketball- While most people will say this is the weakest move by a superstar it’s worse than LeBron leaving Cleveland for Miami, KD is a sucker, he’s a cupcake. Those are all fair assessments and you’re entitled to your opinion. This wasn’t just a basketball move this was a move for Durant to mature and grow, he spent his first 9 seasons with Seattle & Oklahoma City since being drafted second overall in 2007. He needed a change of scenery at one point the Thunder had James Harden, Russell Westbrook, & Kevin Durant all on the same team that made a Finals appearance against LeBron James and the Miami Heat which led to Miami winning in 5 games. Ultimately the Thunder didn’t build off these 3 great future Hall of Famers, OKC management couldn’t work out an extension for James Harden so they traded him for Jeremy Lamb, Kevin Martin, 2 first round picks, and a second round pick. The Thunder should have given Harden the extra 4.5 million he wanted. This led to a unraveling of things to come for this organization. CvecQK2UAAAdUHU

For Durant and others that analyze the move outside of basketball closely can see why it makes sense, Kevin Durant who’s signed to Roc Nation, had a talk with his agent & the face of Roc Nation music legend Jay Z, Hov was more influential on this move than people may know Jay would tell him and his agent how much his business has grown since leaving NY for LA he would help guide Durant in all the questions he had. During the 2014-2015 season Durant was hit with multiple injuries this resulted in a dip of his brand in the market not to mention his previous two signature Kevin Durant sneakers didn’t sell well and he was number 8 on jersey sales. To be considered the second best player in the world that’s not going to cut it. Why not go to a bigger market in the Bay Area, why not have a change of scenery to build your brand back up?

Bout Damn Time- With KD making this move, he’s been flying under the radar for the past 9 years he hasn’t had as much scrutiny (besides leaving OKC) compared to other players. People give him a pass for losing his only finals appearance do to the Thunders youth, & James Harden practically never showing up. Kevin Durant has no excuse this time around he has a point guard in Steph Curry that’s going to get him the ball & take the scoring load off him, he has a sniper in Klay Thompson that can heat up at any moment (most notably game 6 at OKC last year 41 points which included 11 three pointers that saved GS season), you have Draymond Green who’s going to do all the dirty work for you and presumably have the task of guarding LeBron most of the time, plus a supporting cast that is arguably better than he has had at any point in OKC. 2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala will be in the mix; Shaun Livingston does his job coming off the bench with giving solid minutes, posting smaller guards up, scoring, plus getting others involved. Ian Clarke & Patrick McCaw have gotten big minutes plus both have been hitting the 3 ball during GS sweep thus far. Lastly the Warriors have rough-riders in  David West who’s going to come in hit a couple of mid-range jumpers and Matt Barnes who will get under the Cavs skin but they really will be in for their physicality something the Warriors lacked (outside of Draymond) last year.

Durant has all the weapons he needs, he just needs to show up in these Finals like he has been doing this post season averaging 25.2 PPG and 8 rebounds. There’s no excuse this time around, he has a tall task of trying to dethrone LeBron James and the Cavaliers but it can be done. If he gets the job done the Warriors will be a problem for the next 4-5 years, anything short of that will be a long off-season with much scrutiny not only for the Warriors but most importantly Kevin Wayne Durant. FullSizeRender (10)

You Know What Time It Is

Isaiah Thomas was in the hospital for about 3-4 hours the day of game 2 trying to get swelling down on his mouth from losing his front tooth in-game one that required a 6 hours surgery.

Isaiah Thomas knocks down a corner three agasint the Washington Wizards in game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals

Not to mention Thomas was playing game 2 with an even heavier heart his sister Chyna still on his mind, but it was his sister’s birthday, “So she would have been 23 today,” Thomas said. “The least I can do is go out there and play for her. It just wasn’t a good day for me, with it being my sister’s birthday and being in the hospital for three or four hours,” said Thomas, who had returned for additional treatment. “But once I was around the guys and being in the arena, I felt I could go. No way I couldn’t play on her birthday. I wanted to win for her and I wanted to play well for her.” Thomas exclaimed

After torching the Wizards for 53 and scoring 29 points in the fourth and overtime, a gassed John Wall and co had no answer for the star-studded Thomas. Boston surrendered 42 points in the first quarter and trailed by double digits at times. Ultimately Boston fought their way back but the Wizards had two chances to win it at the end John Wall got a good look at a contested shot from the left side of the floor, but it missed and fell in the hands of Bradley Beal who shot it but got nothing but air.

In the second half Thomas made them pay by getting the switches he liked at times in the game he drew bigger defenders like Gortat, Morris, and Porter who stood no chance. Morris and Thomas were going back and forth with trash talk. Thomas telling Morris at times “you can’t guard me” and giving him stares down the court after hitting shots over him. Thomas got the best of him in the trash talk and in the game. One play in particular in overtime, Morris got switched on him fouled Thomas on the wrist while shooting a jump shot as he was losing control of the ball mid-air,  somehow still managed to get the shot off made it and completed the three-point play that sent Morris to the bench with his sixth foul. The 53 points by Thomas is the second most in Boston Playoff history one point shy of John Havlicek.

Isaiah Thomas celebrates a 2-0 lead against the Washington Wizards 

There’s no doubt what so ever that Thomas sister Chyna was looking down on him and giving him everything he needed to play his heart out.

No Love Lost: Washington Wizards and Boston Celtics Square off in Round 2

The Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards have become one of the latest great rivalries. With Marcus Smart breaking Bradley Beal’s nose & giving him a concussion to the Wizards wearing all black during their third meeting of the regular season this year there’s no love lost for these teams.

Both teams split the regular series 2-2 so we can pretty much bet on this one to go 7 games. The Celtics finished 41-23 since December 3rd just like the Wizards but Boston had a more favorable schedule that allowed them to grab the number one seed in the East.

Backcourts

There’s no doubt that John Wall is the best player in this series, he has carried this Wizards team all year especially in the playoffs when everyone not named Beal decided not to show up against the Hawks in their two losses against them. Bradley Beal will be tabbed with trying to get open with one of the best on ball defenders guarding him in Avery Bradley. Beal has had solid games against the Celtics this regular season, so expect him to keep Washington in games if Wall doesn’t have the hot hand.

Isaiah Thomas dealing with the death of his sister has handled it better than most thought he and Celtics team would after falling 0-2 to the Bulls. The All-Star guard has been remarkable all year getting MVP nods and putting his stamp on fourth quarters there’s no doubt Thomas will be a problem this series. Outplaying his opponent John Wall in all 4 matchups they had this year is pro, but the con is on defense the Celtics really can’t hide Thomas on defense, expect Avery Bradley to take the challenge of trying to slow down John Wall plus switching to Beal every now and then. The only hope for Boston is sticking Thomas on the 6’8 Porter who’s a spot up shooter. With Washington knowing this expect them to try get Thomas in “pick n roll” situations that get Thomas guarding Wall.

Head-to-Head

This Season

WALL THOMAS
PPG 17.8 27.8
APG 8.3 8.0
FG pct 37.3 40.0
3-pt FG 2-13 9-33

 

This series can go either way so if Boston does or doesn’t win it won’t be a surprise, but the Celtics have to take advantage of the Wizards when Wall & Beal go to the bench. The Wizards bench is worse than a hangover at times with Beal being off the court against Atlanta they were out scored 33.4 points per 100 possessions. So players like Terry Rozier who provides solid minutes and contributions against the Bulls will have to step up, not to mention with the Wizards being thin on the back-end (not knowing the status of Ian Mahinmi) Tyler Zeller, and Kelly Olynyk must take advantage inside. I’ll take the Celtics bench every time. Ultimately Washington takes care of business and wins in 6

NBA PLAYOFF PREDICITION: Easten Conference

Image result for eastern conference nba playoffs

Celtics (1) vs Bulls (8)

This will be another great series; somehow Jimmy Butler managed to squeak this roller coaster Bulls team into the playoffs. With Dwayne Wade back early from a season ending elbow injury, Rajon Rondo going from starting point guard, to dog house, back to being in the starting line up giving the Bulls a needed boost at the right time. The Bulls have two go to scores in crunch we all know what Wade is about and brings to the table and Jimmy Butler will play 48 minutes at both ends of the court if he needs to. It’s the others that are going to have to pull their weight if they want to advance.

It’s not shocking that Boston grabbed the 1 seed due to Cleveland dealing with injuries all year combined with taking rest days, sick days, and spring break days. Isaiah Thomas has led this Boston team with 24 ppg and he’s even better when it’s the fourth quarter. Thomas averages 11 points in the final quarter, so if it comes down late we know who’s getting the rock. The thing for Boston is how they will try to keep Jimmy Butler under control Brad Stevens is one of the bright young coaches in the game so expect him to give Butler different looks. Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley, and Marcus Smart will all take turns trying to stop Jimmy B. Another thing Brad Stevens won’t have to do like he did in the regular season is take Isaiah Thomas out late in games due to mismatches, the Bulls don’t have a dominant threat at the one position so Thomas should be fine late in games.

Regular Season series: tied 2-2 Playoff Prediction: Celtics in 7

 

Cavaliers (2) vs Pacers (7)

It’s hard to tell what Cleveland team will show up we haven’t seen them together fully healthy all year. They’ve had 24 different guys suit up for them and they’ve been pacing themselves all year, plus their defense has been horrendous. Although it’s just the regular season most teams can’t just flip the switch but this team can, when you have a player like LeBron James going to 6 straight Finals, he knows what time of year it is. If there’s somebody that Cleveland needs it’s Kevin Love we aren’t going to get the Minnesota Timberwolves Love, but he’ll have to be close to it in this series and playoffs.

Indiana has disappointed a lot of people personally I thought they would be a 4 or 5 seed but they started off the year slow. Led by superstar Paul George 23.7 ppg Indian has a chance because of that guy, he’s not scared to go at LeBron and will bring it every night in this series. The way this series shapes out will have a huge impact on his future in Indiana, big man Myles Turner and guard Jeff Teague are great complimentary pieces for George, they’ll have to match PG13’s intensity if they want to beat a vulnerable Cavs team. Let’s not forget Lance is back too (watch out Bron).

Regular Season Series: Cavaliers, 3-1 Playoff Prediction: Cavaliers in 5

 

Raptors (3) vs Bucks (6)

The Raptors duo is back together, point guard Kyle Lowery is back from his risk injury and Demar Derozan is still a bucket. The Raptors haven’t played with all their pieces together though they acquired Serge Ibaka and PJ Tucker before the trade deadline. We all know Toronto struggles in first round match ups, but they bring a lot of size, solid guard play, and defense this year. It still won’t be easy but Toronto is deep.

The Bucks are led by arguably the best player in this Series Giannis Antetokounmpo, averaging 22.9 ppg and 8.8 rebounds per game and notching his first All-Star bid. Greek Freak will see a lot of bodies his way but still manage to get his. The injury to Jabari Parker is a huge hit this time of the year, but Milwaukee still has lots of talent Greg Monroe will be controlling the paint. Point guard and Rookie of the Year candidate Malcom Brogdon has been a key piece to this operation too. Fowards Michael Beasley and Khris Middleton can score when needed too. This will be another great first round series too.

Regular Season Series: Raptors 3-1 Playoff Prediction: Raptors in 7

Wizards (4) vs Hawks (5)

Beginning of the year it looked like Washington was headed for the lottery. Since the All-Star break they have been the most improved and one of the hottest teams in the league. Led by Coach of the Year Candidate Scott Brooks he has them playing great basketball. Not to mention when you have All-Star point guard John Wall who can get to the cup anytime he wants, and great wing man Bradley Beal (should have been a All-Star) running the show the Wizards are a dangerous team. You combine those two with shooters on the outside Otto Porter, Markieff Morris, and Bojan Bogdanović (best trade at the deadline) the Wizards are sneaky good. The only concern Washington has is their depth, backup center Ian Mahinmi is going to miss time with a calf injury. I’m not sold on the Brandon Jennings trade either, but Washington is in a good Spot with the 4 seed too, avoiding Cleveland until the Conference Finals.

You don’t know if Atlanta is trying to tank or win games sometimes. They have won 4 out of their last 5 games, notching 2 wins against Cleveland and one against Boston. Tim Hardaway Jr. has been coming into his own lately, the Hawks still have Paul Millsap who can score when needed. The X factor though is point guard Dennis Schroder he averages 17.9 ppg, but also turns the ball over 3.3 times per game usually in crucial moments. He’s going to be tasked with guarding John Wall and trying to run the offense good luck with that one.

Regular Season Series: Wizards 3-1 Playoff Prediction: Wizards in 5

NBA PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS: Western Conference

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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