2016 NBA Playoffs Preview
Being nice is stupid. I’m a nice guy. Some might disagree with this, but I’m a nice guy. I’m probably not a great guy because I’m discussing this on my blog, but I’m a nice guy to people until they give me a legit reason to be a prick to them. So I have this neighbour, and he believes that because I’m nice to him that we’re friends. Nope. I’m just nice. But because I’m nice and don’t want to be a dick to the guy, I don’t come out and tell him “hey man, quit coming over to my place, I’m not going to come over to your place for a beer, we are just neighbours.” Do people actually have these conversations? I prefer the tactics I’m taking now which is looking to avoid him at all costs and hope that he sees me do this a few times and maybe he gets the picture. I’d rather him start to hate me than have that conversation. Of course he would hate me if I wasn’t nice, hence…being nice is stupid.
Well the Stanley Cup playoffs aren’t the only playoffs getting underway this week. Tomorrow is the start of the NBA playoffs. Obviously in this country the big story is the Raptors and whether or not they can finally get over the hump. I don’t think just 1 round will satisfy the fan base either. They need to go to the East finals this season, simply because it should be a relatively easy road to get there. A 56 win team should handle an average Pacers team and either the Heat without Bosh or an inexperienced Hornets team…right?
The big story around the league though is whether or not the Warriors can backup their amazing 73 win season? The Spurs will be tough to beat. The Cavs despite a rocky season are still really talented and will have a much easier road to the finals.
At it’s best, there are few things better in sports than playoff basketball. I’ll be the first guy to admit, the first round of the playoffs can be boring. This season, the first couple rounds of the playoffs really don’t look like they’ll produce many compelling series. But when the Warriors meet the Spurs and the winner of that meets the Cavs, that’ll be the sport at it’s absolute best. So let me lay out what’ll happen to get us to that point.
1 Golden State vs 8 Houston
Can there be such thing as a 2 game sweep? Seriously, the Rockets shouldn’t even bother showing up. They’re a mess, the Warriors are riding high after the pressure of 73 is now off, and I have zero doubt this will be done in 5, and I’m betting it’s a sweep.
2 San Antonio vs 7 Memphis
Much the same in this series although the Grizzlies at least have their act together. But the Spurs will be looking to sweep because it’s all about getting their rest. Again, a max of 5. Max.
3 Oklahoma City vs 6 Dallas
OKC will take this series but because of Rick Carlisle I could see this one going 6. No way the Mavs pull this one out of their ass, but I remember when they played the Spurs 2 seasons ago. They had no business taking that one 7 and they did. Could be the final playoffs for Dirk.
Thunder in 6
4 LA Clippers vs 5 Portland
The Blazers really overachieved this season. Very few had them as a playoff team after they lost LaMarcus Aldridge in free agency. Damian Lillard vs Chris Paul could be real fun to watch, but much like the other 3 in the West I just don’t see this series being close. It is as if there are 3 tiers of teams in the West playoffs. The Warriors and Spurs are in the first tier, the Thunder and Clippers are in the 2nd tier, and then you have everyone else.
Clippers in 5
1 Golden State vs 4 LA Clippers
This will be a good series. I don’t know if it’ll be a long series, but if the Warriors lose later on in the playoffs this might be where the wheels start to come off because this is a true rivalry and the Clippers will play them tough. Still though, the Warriors are just so good, especially in tight games.
Warriors in 5
2 San Antonio vs 3 Oklahoma City
OKC might have the 2 best players in this series. But the Spurs are insanely deep. Kwame Leonard will make life miserable for Kevin Durant, which allows the Spurs design the rest of their D around getting the ball out of Russell Westbrook’s hands. I really like the Thunder, but I just don’t see it happening for them in this series.
Spurs in 5
1 Golden State vs 2 San Antonio
Barring injuries, this is going to happen. Top 2 teams in the league. The Spurs had one of the best seasons in NBA history, and were 2nd. The Spurs lost 3 of 4 to the Warriors. If they are the team that goes 3-1 in the season series, they are only the 3rd team in NBA history to win 69 games and STILL finish 2 games back of the Warriors for first in the West! But man, I just don’t buy the Warriors ever saw the Spurs best this season. Gregg Popovich is just too damn good of a coach and is so focused on the playoffs from day 1 of the season that you know the Warriors will see some stuff from the Spurs they haven’t all season. Having said all this, this will be a tremendous series and I believe the Warriors will simply have too much fire power.
Warriors in 7
1 Cleveland vs 8 Detroit
I think the Pistons will give the Cavs a series. They’re really young, really talented, and have nothing to lose. They also win the coaching matchup. Stan Van Gundy has been a great coach everywhere he’s been. Tyronn Lue has been stepped over by Allen Iverson in the NBA Finals. Cavs will win, but like their season it’ll be a bit of a struggle
Cavs in 6
2 Toronto vs 7 Indiana
Well it’s time to shit or get off the pot for the Raptors. They’ve lost 6 straight in the playoffs since going up 3-2 on Brooklyn. Last year was humiliating. But they brought in DeMarre Carroll for this reason and having him to guard Paul George is big. The Raps have an advantage just about everywhere else on the floor, so they SHOULD take this series but as a Raptors fan I worry.
Raptors in 6
3 Miami vs 6 Charlotte
I actually think this will be a real good series, maybe the best of the first round. Both teams are pretty deep, the Heat have the experience but the Hornets matchup well with a lot of big’s who could give the Heat problems down low with Chris Bosh obviously out. Even though this is 3 vs 6, these teams had identical 48-34 records, so this is a pick’em series to me. I have to take an underdog at some point don’t I?
Hornets in 7
4 Atlanta vs 5 Boston
I immediately think Celtics here, but I thought that with just about every series the Hawks had last season, and they made it to the Eastern Conference finals. And there is a lot more experience with the Hawks than with the Celtics. Still, have a ridiculous amount of depth and there aren’t many coaches in the league right now better than Brad Stevens
Celtics in 6
1 Cleveland vs 5 Boston
Mike Wilbon says this is the biggest threat to Cleveland in the East. But this is my feeling about the Cavs is that they haven’t given a damn this season. It has been all about building towards the playoffs. They finished the regular season strong, and while I feel like the Pistons might give them a bit of a series, I think it’ll actually help the Cavs a bit. They’ll be ready for the Celtics.
Cavs in 5
2 Toronto vs 6 Charlotte
The Hornets NBA title would be knocking off the Heat. The Heat have a lot of experience, but the Raptors have a lot more talent. That size advantage the Hornets have against the Heat won’t exist against the Raptors, and while Walker vs Lowry will be fun to watch I don’t see the Hornets as much of a threat to the Raptors should this matchup happen.
Raptors in 6
1 Cleveland vs 2 Toronto
I said it a few years back that if the Raptors were to get to the Eastern finals it would be like winning an NBA title for the franchise. Well, here we are. As I said above, I think the Cavs are going to get better and better as the playoffs go on. Carroll is a guy who could make life tough for James, but then I would guess LBJ would adjust and that’s when you would see Kevin Love get more involved and the Raptors don’t really have an answer for a stretch 4 like him.
Cavs in 6
Golden State vs Cleveland
This is obviously the matchup most are expecting. Most would expect the Warriors to blow them out I’m sure, but let’s not forget…the Cavs took them 6 games last year without Kevin Love or Kyrie Irving. The Cavs have been building for this matchup all season. Some think they were a mess all season, I really believe this team was bored. And as I said earlier, if they have to go through a war with the Clippers, and it will be a war with the Spurs, are the Warriors built to take 3 punishing rounds of basketball? I don’t know. I’ll say the Warriors complete the dream season and win their 2nd straight, but I think it’ll be a lot tighter than anyone believes.
Warriors in 7
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