Tag Archives: NBA Playoffs

2017 NBA Playoff Projections

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Eastern Conference

1. Cleveland Cavaliers

2. Indiana Pacers

3. Toronto Raptors

4. Boston Celtics

5. Detroit Pistons

6. Atlanta Hawks

7. Chicago Bulls

8. Washington Wizards

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

(8) Washington Wizards vs. (1) Cleveland Cavaliers (Cavaliers win series 4-0)

The Washington Wizards won’t be able to derail the express that is the defending NBA Champions.

(7) Chicago Bulls vs. (2) Indiana Pacers (Pacers win series 4-2)

The Chicago Bulls will spend most of this NBA season not being on the same page which will finally catch up to them against the Indiana Pacers.

(6) Atlanta Hawks vs. (3) Toronto Raptors (Raptors win series 4-2)

The Atlanta Hawks will be tough, but the Toronto Raptors are looking to build off of their momentum from making the Eastern Conference Finals last season.

(5) Detroit Pistons vs. (4) Boston Celtics (Pistons win series (4-2)

The size advantage of the Detroit Pistons will be on display in this one as the Boston Celtics are still unable to win a playoff series under head coach Brad Stevens.

Eastern Conference Semifinals

Detroit Pistons vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (Cavaliers win series 4-2)

The Pistons are an improving team under head coach Stan Van Gundy, but they are still not on the level of the Cavaliers.

Toronto Raptors vs Indiana Pacers (Pacers win series 4-2)

This is a rematch of a gritty first-round series from last spring, but this time around, Pacers small forward Paul George has more help around him which should be the difference.

Eastern Conference Finals

Indiana Pacers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (Cavaliers win series 4-2)

Pacers small forward Paul George still will be unable to solve the riddle that is Cavaliers small forward LeBron James.

Western Conference

1. Golden State Warriors

2. San Antonio Spurs

3. Los Angeles Clippers

4. Portland Trailblazers

5. Oklahoma City Thunder

6. Dallas Mavericks

7. Memphis Grizzlies

8. Utah Jazz

Western Conference Quarterfinals

(8) Utah Jazz vs. (1) Golden State Warriors (Warriors win series 4-0)

The Utah Jazz won’t be a match for the Golden State Warriors as they will merely be happy to have their first postseason appearance since 2012.

(7) Memphis Grizzlies vs. (2) San Antonio Spurs (Spurs win series 4-1)

It’s that time of the year when you have to be weary of the San Antonio Spurs as they are simply laying in the weeds for another title run.

(6) Dallas Mavericks vs. (3) Los Angeles Clippers (Clippers wins 4-3)

The Dallas Mavericks have the heart and determination, but it won’t be enough to overtake the Los Angeles Clippers.

(5) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (4) Portland Trailblazers (Trail Blazers win series 4-3)

Hands down this will be the toughest first round series in the playoffs as it can go either way.

Western Conference Semifinals

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Golden State Warriors (Warriors win series 4-2)

The Blazers are an improving club, but they still aren’t on the level of the Warriors.

Los Angeles Clippers vs. San Antonio Spurs Spurs (Spurs win series 4-1)

The Clippers are a good team, but right now they have to take a backseat to the Warriors and Spurs who are clearly the two best teams in the Western Conference.

Western Conference Finals

San Antonio Spurs vs. Golden State Warriors (Warriors win series 4-3)

The Spurs defense will slow down the Warriors, but it won’t be enough to stop them.

NBA Finals

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors (Warriors win 4-3)

The hunger of losing the NBA Finals last summer to the Cavaliers will be enough for the Warriors to get back to the top of the mountain.

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A Thunderous Defeat

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A week ago life was good for the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder had a 3-1 lead over the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, and a trip to the NBA Finals appeared to be in the cards for them. But the Thunder were unable to seal the deal as they lost their next three games, with each defeat being more painful that the previous one. Now the Thunder have become a running gag on social media as some people are labeling them as “choke artists”, with their star players in point guard Russell Westbrook and small forward Kevin Durant being singled out. The Thunder enjoyed a terrific season as they won 55 games during the regular season en route to winning their fifth Northwest Division Title in the last six years. In the Western Conference Semifinals, the Thunder got past the San Antonio Spurs who were viewed by many observers as the uncrowned NBA Champions. But after being so close to defeating the Warriors, the Thunder are left to ponder what could have been as they’ll be licking their wounds over the summer.

Kevin Durant

But the Thunder won’t be able to sulk for long as team general manager Sam Presti must formulate a plan to keep Durant in Oklahoma City. Durant is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and there are several teams in the NBA that will be putting on the full-court press in order to entice him to join them. However what the Thunder have going for them is that they can offer Durant more money than any other team, while roster wise they still possess a squad that is championship ready.

Presti must also decided if he is willing to re-sign shooting guard Dion Waiters. During the 2014-2015 NBA season, the Thunder acquired Waiters from the Cleveland Cavaliers, and he became a valuable sixth man in Oklahoma City. Waiters made $5.1 million this season, but you can expect that he will be seeking a bigger payday over the summer, and it will be interesting to see if the Thunder are willing to commit to him on a long-term deal. However being that Waiters is a restricted free agent, the Thunder will have the opportunity to match any offer from another NBA team.

Other than Durant and Waiters, all the key players to the Thunder’s success are under contract at least through next season. Billy Donovan was solid in his first season as the head coach of the Thunder as he was brought in for his ability to deal with different personalities. And Donovan did a solid job of staying out of the way, while letting his players be.

But as good as the Thunder have been and can be, they are not going to get too many opportunities to win an NBA Championship like the one that they just had which was right within their grasp.

The Western Conference is still difficult with the likes of the Warriors, Spurs, and the emerging Portland Trailblazers. And the Thunder proved how difficult that winning the Western Conference can be as they’ll more than likely have to go through the Spurs and Warriors once more.

Russell Westbrook

Although that Westbrook didn’t enter the NBA as a point guard, he has evolved into one of the best in the league as he is a triple-double waiting to happen. And in the defeat to the Warriors, Westbrook showed that he is the heart and soul of the Thunder as he was a big reason why Oklahoma City was up 3-1 in the series due to his relentlessness at both ends of the court. With the deep run by the Thunder in the playoffs, I don’t see Durant leaving Oklahoma City as being there gives him the best chance of winning an NBA Championship which appears to be high on his list of priorities. The Thunder have rebounding in the form of centers Steven Adams and Enes Kanter, along with power forward Serge Ibaka. The Thunder also get interior defense from Ibaka and Adams, while Waiters and shooting guard Andre Roberson are solid perimeter defenders. But what the Thunder could benefit from is having another ball handler on the court coming down the stretch of games which would take some pressure off of Westbrook while allowing him the freelance more. And most importantly, the Thunder must find a way to finish.

What separated Golden State and Oklahoma City in the Western Conference Finals was that the Warriors expected to win, while the Thunder hoped to win. The Warriors have been there and done it, which is why they are the defending NBA Champions and are still playing as the Thunder are not. Make no mistake about it that this version of the Thunder was better than the team that lost to the Miami Heat in the 2012 NBA Finals. And if the Thunder can find a way to build off of this difficult defeat as opposed to allowing it to bring them down, they can once again be a very formidable team next season.

Source: Basketball-reference.com

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Teetering On The Brink

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If the Golden State Warriors cannot figure out how to stop Russell Westbrook, the off-season will begin earlier than expected.

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A Southwestern Tussle

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Both the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder are worthy of winning the NBA Championship, but only one team will make it to the Western Conference Finals.

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It Don’t Mean A Thing Without The Ring

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The Golden State Warriors just wrapped a regular season for the ages as they set an NBA single-season record for victories with 73. The previous mark was 72 victories which was held by the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls who set the mark that appeared to be unbreakable, but don’t tell that to these Warriors.

After winning 67 games last season en route to their first NBA Title in 40 years last year, the Warriors were overlooked coming into this season in spite of bringing back their championship team nearly in tact. All of the hype over the summer was focused on the Cleveland Cavaliers and the San Antonio Spurs, but not on the defending champs who took it to heart which has fueled their historic run.

Steve Kerr

In spite of the Warriors not having their head coach Steve Kerr at the start of the season due to back surgery, Golden State still managed to win their first 24 games this season and they never looked back. In going 73-9, the Warriors became the first team in NBA history to go a full season without losing consecutive games which in itself is a major accomplishment. The Warriors are looking to become the second team in the last five years to repeat as NBA Champions and they’ve done it with an exciting brand of basketball that relies on them spreading the floor due to their quality perimeter shooting. Point guard Stephen Curry is the leader of this Warriors team as he averaged 29.9 per game this season. Curry is looking to take home his second consecutive NBA MVP Award as he and his teammates with the Warriors have been hungry all season long to show how special that they truly are. But all of the Warriors accolades during the regular season won’t mean a thing if they are unable to be the last team standing in two months.

There have been 19 NBA teams that have won at least 65 regular season games through the history of the league, with 15 of them going on to claim the championship that year. Two teams this season have won at least 65 games as the San Antonio Spurs finished this NBA campaign with a record of 67-15 which means that there will be at least one team this season that will be added to the small list of teams that were unable to win a championship in spite of having such a stellar season. But for the Warriors, the odds appear to be in their favor as long as they remain injury free to take home another title this June.

Of the teams that have won at least 65 regular season games, the Warriors are just the fourth team to win that many games as the defending NBA Champions. And whereas that the NBA Playoffs are set to begin this Saturday, the postseason in actuality began for Golden State on opening night this past October as they have gotten every team’s best effort on a nightly basis which has to be a boost to their already immense confidence.

Over the last two NBA seasons which includes the 2015 NBA Playoffs, the Warriors have only lost at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California six times as opponents know that they will have their hands full when they arrive in the Bay Area. And the Warriors protection of their home court will go a long way in their quest to repeat as NBA Champions. Right now Curry is locked in as a perimeter shooter and he has truly benefited playing in an era where the rules are geared to scoring while there is also a league-wide lack of concentration at the defensive end of the floor which makes for him taking and making more open jump shots. As a team, that Warriors shot nearly 49% percent from the floor this season and 41% from beyond the three-point arc which both led the NBA which as that shooting ability allows them to never be truly out of a game while being a big part of their 73 victories.

Stephen Curry

Aside from potentially facing the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals, and the Cavaliers for a second consecutive year in the NBA Finals, Golden State won’t face that many teams in the postseason that have enough depth and athleticism to match up against them which should make the first two rounds of the playoffs a glorified tuneup for them. And in order for the Warriors to fall short of their ultimate goal of winning the NBA Championship, they are going to have to face a team that it willing to focus on the defensive end of the floor enough to make Curry and shooting guard Klay Thompson work for every single point. However the team that has the best chance to prevent the Warriors from winning the NBA Title, is the Warriors themselves.

At times it appeared that the Warriors were ready to crack under the pressure of chasing 73 wins, but each time they responded like true champions. And that pressure and media scrutiny will be taken to another level in the NBA Playoffs. However the fact that the Warriors have already shown that they have what it takes to go all the way should be just what the doctor ordered for them to do it again and solidify themselves as one of the greatest teams in NBA history.

Source: Landofbasketball.com

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Stan The Man

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During the 2000’s, the Detroit Pistons were one of the top NBA franchises. In the decade, the Pistons would make the postseason in all but one year which included winning the NBA Championship in 2004. But that Pistons success eventually came to an end as the last six NBA seasons ended without a trip to the postseason in Motown.

Stan Van Gundy

In the spring of 2014, Stan Van Gundy was hired by the Pistons to be their new head coach and president of basketball operations. Prior to coming to Detroit, Van Gundy was the head coach of the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic. In 2009, Van Gundy would lead the Magic to the NBA Finals for just the second time in franchise history. And during Van Gundy’s time in Orlando and Miami, he never had a losing season.

Last year under Van Gundy, the Pistons suffered through their seventh consecutive losing season, but it was actually their best finish since 2009 as they managed to win 32 games. Van Gundy spent his first season with the Pistons finding players that would fit into his brand of basketball which included buying out power forward Josh Smith, allowing center Greg Monroe to leave as an unrestricted free agent last summer, and acquiring point guard Reggie Jackson.

Van Gundy’s moves have paid off for the Pistons as they began this NBA season with a record of 5-1. And even though that the Pistons have been an up and down team this season, they’ve been resilient which is a credit to Van Gundy.

After a February 21 home loss to the New Orleans Pelicans where the Pistons allowed power forward Anthony Davis to go off on them to the tune of 59 points, Detroit had a record of 27-29 as it marked the end of a stretch that saw them lose six of seven games. But the Pistons would follow that difficult stretch up by winning their next four games which included wins over the top two teams in the Eastern Conference in the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Toronto Raptors.

The Pistons would enter the month of March with a record of 31-29 as a playoff berth seemed believable for a franchise that was coming off of three straight 50-loss seasons.

Overall, Detroit would go 9-6 in the third calendar month of the year as they were able to get wins against the teams that they were expected to defeat. And after getting past the Washington Wizards this past Friday night, the Pistons now find themselves postseason bound which is a credit to the work and leadership of Van Gundy.

As most people are captivated by the scoring ability of teams such as the Golden State Warriors, Van Gundy’s coaching style is a throwback to a different era in the NBA when teams won with defense, along with a solid center and a point guard.

Andre Drummond

In 2012, the Pistons used the ninth overall pick of the NBA Draft on center Andre Drummond. Drummond only played one year of college basketball and he came to the league very raw. As a rookie, Drummond averaged 7.9 points and 4.8 rebounds. But in four years as a professional player, Drummond’s numbers have gone up in each season which is highlighted by him making his first NBA All-Star team this year as he is leading the league in rebounding with 14.8 per game. Drummond’s presence in the post as a scorer is improving due to the fact that he is a playing for a coach in Van Gundy that believes in the old-school fundamentals of playing the game of basketball from the inside-out.

Reggie Jackson

Jackson was drafted by the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2011, and although that he is an explosive point guard, he was never going to beat out point guard Russell Westbrook there for playing time. Jackson was set to be a free agent last summer when he began to seek a new deal from the Thunder, but they were unwilling to give it to him. And as one man’s trash is another’s treasure, Van Gundy was more than happy to welcome a disgruntled player in Jackson to Detroit where he would be able to get a fresh start.

For the first time in Jackson’s NBA career, he has appeared in each game while he is also a starter. Like Drummond, Jackson is enjoying a career-high in points (18.8), while he is also averaging 6.2 assists which is also a career-high. Jackson’s emergence as a floor general allowed Van Gundy to trade point guard Brandon Jennings and forward Ersan Ilyasova to the Orlando Magic in exchange for forward Tobias Harris.

Tobias Harris

Van Gundy was familiar with Harris as he briefly coached him in Orlando. In 24 games with the Pistons, Harris is averaging 16.6 points per game and he has provided Van Gundy with another solid scoring option; namely as a versatile scorer who can produce on both the interior and perimeter.

However as Van Gundy has brought in players to fit his system, his biggest accolade is that he has changed the culture in Detroit. In the past few years, losing was simply accepted by the Pistons until Van Gundy arrived. Last year, the Pistons were able to compete and now they’ve once again become winners as you can make the argument that this is Van Gundy’s best coaching job during his NBA career

When the NBA Playoffs begin, the Pistons will be meeting either the Cavaliers who were their opponents in their last trip to the postseason, or the Raptors. The Cavs have an experience advantage over the Pistons as they are the defending Eastern Conference Champions, and they are primed for another deep postseason run. The Raptors are looking to make the Eastern Conference Semifinals for the first time since 2001, but the Pistons do have a size advantage with Drummond and Harris which could spell trouble for Toronto. But either way in the mode of Van Gundy, I don’t expect the Pistons to be a pushover as they will make their opponent pack a lunch for the entire series, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them advance which would be a shock only to the people outside of their locker room.

Source: Basketball-reference.com

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The Race Is On

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Will the emergence of center Andre Drummond be enough for the Detroit Pistons to make the NBA Playoffs for the first time since 2009?

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2016 NBA Playoff Projections

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Western Conference

1. San Antonio Spurs

2. Oklahoma City Thunder

3. Golden State Warriors

4. Los Angeles Clippers

5. Houston Rockets

6. Memphis Grizzlies

7. New Orleans Pelicans

8. Dallas Mavericks

First Round

Dallas Mavericks vs. San Antonio Spurs (Spurs win series 4-1)

The Spurs will enter the NBA Playoffs as a team on a mission which means that the Mavericks will get steamrolled.

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (Thunder win series 4-2)

Last year saw the Pelicans beat out the Thunder for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. But as long as the Thunder remain healthy this year, they will be a force to be reckoned with.

Memphis Grizzlies vs. Golden State Warriors (Warriors win 4-2)

As usual the Grizzlies will be a tough out in the NBA Playoffs, but they won’t have enough to get past the Warriors.

Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Clippers (Clippers win 4-3)

Very quietly this is turning into one of the best rivalries in the NBA.

Conference Semifinals

Los Angeles Clippers vs. San Antonio Spurs (Spurs win 4-2)

Last year saw the Clippers squeak past the Spurs in the first round of the NBA Playoffs which won’t be the case this season.

Golden State Warriors vs Oklahoma City Thunder (Thunder win 4-3)

True champions go down fighting and the Warriors aren’t ready to relinquish their throne without a battle.

Conference Finals

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. San Antonio Spurs (Spurs win 4-2)

The Spurs dipped into free agency to transcend into the future which will culminate in another trip to the NBA Finals.

Eastern Conference

1. Cleveland Cavaliers

2. Chicago Bulls

3. Miami Heat

4. Atlanta Hawks

5. Washington Wizards

6. Milwaukee Bucks

7. Toronto Raptors

8. Boston Celtics

First Round

Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (Cavaliers win series 4-0)

These two teams met last season in the NBA Playoffs and the Celtics are still not equipped to take down the Cavaliers.

Toronto Raptors vs. Chicago Bulls (Bulls win series 4-1)

Once again the Raptors will get caught up in the squeeze of not having enough size in their front court.

Milwaukee Bucks vs. Miami Heat (Heat win series 4-3)

After a one-year hiatus from the NBA Playoffs, the Miami Heat are back to show that they are still an elite team.

Washington Wizards vs. Atlanta Hawks (Wizards win 4-2)

The speed of guards John Wall and Bradley Beal will be too much for the Atlanta Hawks to deal with.

Conference Semifinals

Washington Wizards vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (Cavaliers win series 4-1)

Small forward LeBron James is solely focused on winning an NBA Championship in Cleveland.

Miami Heat vs. Chicago Bulls (Bulls win series 4-3)

This will be an epic series where the Bulls will have just enough to survive the Heat.

Conference Finals

Chicago Bulls vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (Cavaliers win series 4-2)

It doesn’t matter if LeBron James plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Miami Heat; he continues to be a thorn in the side of the Chicago Bulls.

NBA Finals

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. San Antonio Spurs (Spurs win series 4-2)

Just like LeBron James continues to be a problem for the Chicago Bulls, the San Antonio Spurs continue to be a problem for him.

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