Last week I made my first round NHL playoff predictions, now I will be doing my NBA first round predictions. Lets get started.
Golden State Warriors vs New Orleans Pelicans
This matchup is between the number one seed Warriors, and the eighth seed Pelicans. The Warriors are led by point guard Steph Curry, who put up an MVP caliber season, averaging 23.8 PPG (Points Per Game) and broke the single season three-pointers record, dropping 286 shots from behind the arc. On the other side of the court, the Pelicans are led by star center Anthony Davis. Davis, the number one pick in the 2013 NBA draft, truly broke out as one of the stars of the game this season, averaging 24.4 PPG and 10.2 RPG (Rebounds Per Game). The Warriors as a whole, were the best team in the league this season, owning the best record in the league, and averaging the most PPG at 110.0. While I could get into a stats breakdown, this series isn’t exactly a head-scratcher. The Pelicans will be lucky to take one game, and should just roll over for the Warriors.
Prediction: Golden State wins series 4-0
Houston Rockets vs Dallas Mavericks
In a battle between two Texan cities, the Houston Rockets will own home-court in this series against the Dallas Mavericks. The Rockets have done well over the their final 10 regular season games, going 7-3, while the Mavericks went a mediocre 5-5 to close out the season. The Rockets were led by James Harden this season, as he put up his best of many good seasons in his career, averaging 27.0 PPG, and helping the Rockets to a 57 win season. As for the Mavericks, they are led by aging power forward Dirk Nowizki. While Dirk put up a solid season at 17.3 PPG and 6.0 RPG, he is clearly on the decline as he averaged less RPG this season, and over 4 less PPG. In terms of team stats, the Mavericks edged the Rockets in average PPG, putting up 105.2 to the Rockets 103.9. On the other side of the court, the Rockets stood taller than the Mavs, allowing just 100.5 PPG to the Mavs 102.3.In terms of bench production, the Mavericks’ bench outscored the Rockets scoring 6.1 more PPG than Houston. The Mavericks were also much more efficient, having an EFF (NBA Efficiency Recap) of 41.6, to the Rockets scoring out at just 32.8, which was the 5th worst in the NBA. While the Mavericks appear to have more depth than the Rockets, James Harden and crew will prevail and take the series.
Prediction: Houston wins series 4-1
Los Angeles Clippers vs San Antonio Spurs
One of the most anticipated match ups of the first round, the Los Angeles Clippers will face off against the defending champion San Antonio Spurs. Both teams were red hot to close the season, going 9-1 in their last 10 games. While it may seem the Clippers are much better than the Spurs given they are the three seed, while the Spurs are just the six seed, that is not the case. The Spurs and Clippers were just one game apart in the standings, and if not for a loss in their final game, San Antonio would have been the number two seed in the West. The Clippers are led by star point guard Chris Paul, as he averaged an impressive 19.1 PPG and 10.2 APG (Assists Per Game). Over the years, the Clippers have been known for their flashy play style, whether it be lobs from Chris Paul, or big dunks from Blake Griffin. The Spurs, however, are about the exact opposite of the Clippers. San Antonio does not have any one star, but were led by multiple players. Kawhi Leonard in PPG (16.5), Tim Duncan in RPG (9.1), and Tony Parker in APG (4.9). In terms of flash, the Spurs do not have it, as they play more of a traditional style, moving the ball around and taking the open shot when they find it. In terms of PPG, the Clippers were second best in the league, averaging 106.2, while the Spurs were also respectable at 103.2. For defense, the Spurs were the third best in the game giving up just 97.0 PPG, with the Clippers giving up just over 100 PPG at 100.1. As for depth, the Spurs’ bench averaged 41.0 PPG, second best in the league, while the Clippers’ was only able to average 30.4. As for efficiency, the Spurs had the best bench in the league, putting up an EFF of 46.3, while the Clippers had one of the least efficient, coming in second-to-last at 29.7. While this should be a close series, I expect the Spurs to continue their bid to defend their title.
Prediction: San Antonio wins series 4-2
Portland Trail Blazers vs Memphis Grizzlies
In the final Western Conference matchup, the Trail Blazers will take on the Grizzlies. While the Trail Blazers are the 4th seed and the Grizzlies are the 5th, the Grizzlies actually had a better record than the Blazers, winning 55 games, to Portland’s 51. In fact, had Portland not won their division, they would be just the 6th seed, as they had the sixth best record in the West. Coming into this series, neither team is particularly hot, as the Grizzlies have gone 5-5 in their last 10, while the Trail Blazers have gone 4-6. The Trail Blazer’s were led by power forward Lamarcus Aldridge this season, as he put up 23.4 PPG and 10.2 RPG. As for their opponent, the Grizzlies were led by big men Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, as Gasol averaged 17.4 PPG and 7.8 RPG, with Randolph helping him out at 16.1 PPG and 10.5 RPG. Over the course of the season, Portland averaged 102.8 PPG, to Memphis’ 98.3. While Memphis may not have had the best offense, they did have one of the best defenses, giving up the second least PPG in the league at 95.1, to Portland’s 98.6. On the bench, Memphis averaged 31.3 PPG, while Portland had just 27.3. The Grizzlies were also slightly more efficient, with an EFF of 37.1 to the Trail Blazers’ 34.2. While the Trail Blazers may have home court, the Grizzlies have a more well-rounded team, and will take the series.
Prediction: Memphis wins series 4-2
Atlanta Hawks vs Brooklyn Nets
The first matchup in the East is between the Hawks and the Nets. The Nets were the 8th seed in the East, barely beating out the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat. While the Nets did make the playoffs, they did not do it in style, going 38-44, 22 games behind their opponent. This season the Hawks were dominated the East, with the trio of Al Horford, Jeff Teague, and Paul Millsap, all putting together solid seasons to lead a true team effort. Leading the Nets this season was Brook Lopez, averaging 17.2 PPG and 7.4 RPG. In order to save both your time and mine, I’m not going to go in depth on the numbers as this series is a gimme, the Nets have nothing on the Hawks and will be fortunate if they don’t see the brooms come out.
Prediction: Atlanta wins series 4-0
Cleveland Cavaliers vs Boston Celtics
This matchup features the 2nd seed Cavaliers facing the 7th seed Boston Celtics. The Cavaliers made big moves this offseason, bringing back superstar LeBron James, and trading two former first overall picks plus their first this year to the Timberwolves in exchange for Kevin Love. The Celtics did some trading of their own, but it was trading away talent rather than bringing it in. Just before the trade deadline the Celtics traded PG Rajon Rondo away, but still ended up finding their way to the playoffs. Both teams are hot as of late, the Cavs going 7-3 in their last ten games, with the Celtics one-upping them at 8-2. LeBron James was the best player on the Cavaliers this season, averaging 25.3 PPG and 7.4 APG. For the Celtics, their best players were Isaiah Thomas and Jeff Green, but neither player played more than 33 games for Boston this season. Much like the Hawks/Nets and Warriors/Pelicans series’, this series should be a cakewalk so I am not going to go in depth on stats. Although the Celtics are hot of late, the LeBron and the Cavs will show why they only went 40-42 this season.
Prediction: Cleveland wins series 4-0
Chicago Bulls vs Milwaukee Bucks
In this matchup the Bulls and Bucks will face off, with the Bulls owning home court advantage. Coming into the series, the Bulls are a hot 7-3 in their last ten, while the Bucks come in at just 5-5. The Bulls were led by power forward Pau Gasol, who averaged 18.5 PPG and 11.8 RPG. As for the Bucks, point guard Brandon Knight was their best player over the course of the year, averaging 17.8 PPG and 5.4 APG. As for stats for the entire team, Chicago averaged 3.0 more PPG than Milwaukee, with an average of 100.8 to Milwaukee’s 97.8. On defense, Milwaukee and Chicago were very similar, as the Bucks gave up an average of 97.4 PPG, to the Bulls 97.8. In terms of bench production, the Bucks’ bench put up an average of 37.3 PPG, to the Bulls putting up only 32.2. The Bucks bench was also more efficient than the Bulls, with an EFF of 43.3, while the Bulls just had a score of 33.8. The Bucks have more depth on their roster than the Bulls, but I do not see them overcoming the Chicago Bulls in this series.
Prediction: Chicago wins series 4-1
Toronto Raptors vs Washington Wizards
The final matchup of round one is between the Raptors and the Wizards. Both teams have done well coming into this series, the Raptors are 7-3 in their last ten, with the Wizards at 6-4. The Raptors were led by shooting guard DeMar DeRozan this season, as he put up 20.1 PPG. On the other side of the court, the Wizards were led by point guard John Wall, as he averaged 17.6 PPG and 10.0 APG. As a team, the Raptors put up 104.0 PPG, while the Wizards put up just 98.5 PPG. On defense, the Wizards were able to hold opponents to just 97.8 PPG, while the Raptors gave up 100.9 PPG. On the bench, Toronto averaged 38.6 PPG, while Washington only put up 33.5. The Raptors’ bench was also more efficient than the Wizards’, as they had an EFF of 42.5, to the Wizards 38.8. While the Raptors have a better offense and more depth, I believe John Wall and the Wizards defense will dominate this series and move on to the second round.
Prediction: Washington wins series 4-3
Warriors over Pelicans in 4
Rockets over Mavericks in 5
Spurs over Clippers in 6
Grizzlies over Trail Blazers in 6
Hawks over Nets in 4
Cavaliers over Celtics in 4
Bulls over Bucks in 5
Wizards over Raptors in 7