The first round of the NBA Playoffs is coming to a close and a few weeks ago I had been dumb enough to make predictions. Not all of the series are done yet and juicy game 7s between Raptors and Pacers, and Heat and Hornets await, but let’s see how it went anyway.
1. Cavs vs 8. Pistons
The Cavs convincingly swept the Pistons.I had predicted Detroit winning at least one, and from what we’ve seen they could’ve brought home one or two games, but in the end the difference in roster quality and depth was substantial.
4. Hawks vs 5. Celtics
I got this one completely wrong, but Atlanta has proven to be a great team on both sides of the floor, and they’ll be a match for Cleveland in round two for sure. The Celtics lost Avery Bradley early in the series, and despite the heroics of Thomas, couldn’t finish the job. Still, the future looks extremely bright for them.
2. Raptors vs 7. Pacers
At the moment of me writing this, the series is tied with three games apiece, and despite this, Toronto never looked completely in control. They’ve been outcoached, and Lowry and DeRozan have sort of been annihilated throughout the first six games, but luckily for Raptors fans the rest of the crew stepped up (Joseph!). Paul George has kept reminding me how good of a defender he can be. I still think that Toronto is going to make it, but that’s absolutely not a given.
3. Heat vs 6. Hornets
What a series. The Hornets bouncing back from a 2-0 deficit to grab a 3-2 lead away in game 5 was little short of epic, and so was Dwyane Wade’s final 5 minutes in game 6, to get things back in Florida. I had predicted Hornets in 7, but I feel like the momentum of the series has shifted towards more tropical climates.
1. Warriors vs 8. Rockets
Agony: after injuring his right ankle and his knee in the series, Curry is said to be potentially able to play before the Conference Finals start, which is a good news for Golden State, and one that keeps their championship hopes intact. The Rockets were a no match for the Warriors, playing with little character, with their stars fading out from the challenge.
4. Clippers vs 5. Trail Blazers
The Clippers are clearly taking the definition of “being jinxed” to new heights, and not having Paul and Griffin for game 5 and 6 surely made Portland’s life way easier. The Blazers proved to be a team, led by Dame, and supported by an incredible group of young players, including the MIP McCollum. I think they’re capable of creating a few troubles to the Curry-less Warriors.
2. Spurs vs 7. Grizzlies
At least I got one entirely correct, but the fate of the series was set in stone before the series even began. Again, props to Memphis and their coach, because looking legit with such a depleted roster is something that can’t go unnoticed.
3. Thunder vs 6. Mavericks
Oh, so I got two series right, in the end! The Thunder have always been in control, but it’s hard not to consider their efforts just a warm up to their upcoming battle with the Spurs that begins tonight.
Ok, that’s it. It didn’t go all that well, but it hasn’t been a catastrophe either. I might even improve my predicting skills for round two. So…
Round two predictions
1. Cavs vs 4. Hawks
Cavs in 6. Atlanta is great and is deeper than I thought, but Kyrie is playing like he never has, and with LeBron always being the basketball android we’ve come to know in the past decade, I can’t see this series going anywhere else than Ohio.
2. Raptors vs 3. Heat
Disclaimer: with two game 7s still to be played, it is only my assumption that the Raptors and the Heat are going to make it. Still, if this were the actual second round series, I would project the Heat winning in 5.
1. Warriors vs 5. Trail Blazers
Warriors in 6. Warriors are mentally tough (did you see their reaction to Curry’s knee injury?), and the Blazers are on a wild and partially lucky ride, it’s going to be a fun series.
2. Spurs vs 3. Thunder
I can’t imagine the Thunder winning this, against such a complete and experienced team such as the Spurs, and this is a problem for an organization that has winning the championship as their sole goal. I’d say Spurs for a couple of reasons: 1) I’m not ready yet to see Tim and Manu wave goodbye, 2) I’m not ready for anything else than a Warriors vs. Spurs Western Conference Final. So, Spurs in 5.