With the NBA season coming to a close, it is finally time for the playoffs to begin. At the season finale, we witnessed Kobe play his final game and Golden State break the 95-96 Bulls record for wins in a regular season. The Warriors, trying to repeat as champions, will get all they get handle in the Western Conference, especially San Antonio. In the Eastern Conference, the Cavaliers, led by LeBron James, appear to be the favorites. Will LeBron finally be able to deliver a championship to Cleveland? Let’s find out in my NBA playoff predictions!
Eastern Conference Final Standings:
1. Cleveland Cavaliers (57-25)
2. Toronto Raptors (56-26)
3. Miami Heat (48-34)
4. Atlanta Hawks (48-34)
5. Boston Celtics (48-34)
6. Charlotte Hornets (48-34)
7. Indiana Pacers (45-37)
8. Detroit Pistons (44-38)
Western Conference Final Standings:
1. Golden State Warriors (73-9)
2. San Antonio Spurs (67-15)
3. Oklahoma City Thunder (55-27)
4. Los Angeles Clippers (53-29)
5. Portland Trail Blazers (44-38)
6. Dallas Mavericks (42-40)
7. Memphis Grizzlies (42-40)
8. Houston Rockets (41-41)
FIRST ROUND: Eastern Conference:
(1.) Cleveland Cavaliers vs (8.) Detroit Pistons
This is an interesting matchup for Cleveland. With Andre Drummond down low, he will give the Cavs some trouble. Regardless, I see LeBron and company being able to take control of this series early.
Prediction: CLE 4-1
(2.) Toronto Raptors vs (7.) Indiana Pacers
After a strong start to the regular season, Indiana didn’t finish the season as expected. Meanwhile, the Raptors have played consistent basketball all season.
Prediction: TOR 4-2
(3.) Miami Heat vs (6.) Charlotte Hornets
The Miami Heat are a dark horse for the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. With a balanced team and a strong bench, this team could make some noise down the stretch of the postseason.
Prediction: MIA 4-1
(4.) Atlanta Hawks vs (5.) Boston Celtics
This will be the best first round series in the Eastern Conference. Isaiah Thomas is one of the better guards in the NBA and plays with a lot of heart. The Hawks have a lot of experience and have been in this situation before.
Prediction: BOS 4-3
FIRST ROUND: Western Conference:
(1.) Golden State Warriors vs (8.) Houston Rockets
Golden State, coming off the best regular season in NBA history, has their sights set on another championship. Houston will struggle in this series with the lack of defense on the team.
Prediction: GSW: 4-1
Confidence: Very high
(2.) San Antonio Spurs vs (7.) Memphis Grizzlies
The Spurs had an unappreciated season this year, in most part due to the success of Golden State. They are on a mission to get back to the finals, so expect a quick series here.
Prediction: SAS: 4-0
Confidence: Very High
(3.) Oklahoma City Thunder vs (6.) Dallas Mavericks
The Thunder are back into the postseason after failing to do so last season. Dallas has been a consistent playoff team, but Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are anxious for a run.
Prediction: OKC 4-2
(4.) Los Angeles Clippers vs (5.) Portland Trail Blazers
The Clippers are looking to get over the hump this year in the playoffs. Meanwhile, Portland has had a tremendous season after losing all but one starter from the 2014-15 team.
Prediction: LAC 4-2
SECOND ROUND: Eastern Conference:
(1.) Cleveland Cavaliers vs (5.) Boston Celtics
The Celtics have always gave LeBron trouble in the postseason. LeBron, in contrary, has been able to take care of business in the postseason.
Prediction: CLE 4-1
(2.) Toronto Raptors vs (3.) Miami Heat
The Raptors have enjoyed one of their best seasons in several years. Miami, using their strong core of players, are able to get back to the conference finals since the LeBron era.
Prediction: MIA 4-2
SECOND ROUND: Western Conference:
(1.) Golden State Warriors vs (4.) Los Angeles Clippers
Golden State continues their winning ways following the first round. The Clippers, coming off a big upset in the playoffs over San Antonio last year, nearly do the same against the Warriors.
Prediction: GSW 4-3
(2.) San Antonio Spurs vs (3.) Oklahoma City Thunder
This is one of the best second round match-ups in recent years. San Antonio has a loaded roster and the best coach in the NBA. The Thunder, led by two top 5 players in the NBA, look to get back to the finals.
Prediction: SAS: 4-2
CONFERENCE FINALS: Eastern Conference:
(1.) Cleveland Cavaliers vs (3.) Miami Heat
LeBron faces his old team in the Eastern Conference finals. Dwyane Wade and company are trying to reach the finals again, but nothing is stopping The King from his sixth consecutive appearance in finals.
Prediction: CLE 4-2
Difference of the Game: LeBron being able to score at the basket and receiving help from perimeter shooting.
CONFERENCE FINALS: Western Conference:
(1.) Golden State Warriors vs (2.) San Antonio Spurs
The most anticipated series on the entire playoffs comes true. Golden State, trying to continue their dream season, face off the most successful team of the past two decades, San Antonio. With Steph Curry being nearly unstoppable to stop this season, Coach Popovich finds a way.
Prediction: SAS 4-3
Confidence: Very, very low
Difference of the Game: Kawhi Leonard’s defense being enough to disrupt Curry.
(1.) Cleveland Cavaliers vs (2.) San Antonio Spurs
LeBron faces his worst enemy in the finals yet again. Although healthy, Cleveland doesn’t have enough depth/coaching to match San Antonio’s scary team. Unless something crazy happens, expect a one-sided series.
Prediction: SAS 4-1
MVP Prediction: LaMarcus Aldridge
Difference of the Game: Kawhi Leonard’s defense and LaMarcus Aldridge’s offense.