*cues Fort Minor “Remember The Name*
82 games were played. There were some epic streaks, memorable regular season dunks, and some great competition in the MVP race. We now have the final teams who will battle it out for the next 2 weeks. Will Miami have their 3rd championship parade in 10 years? Will the Lakers do what we all think can’t be done? Will Melo put the city of NY on his back? These are interesting storylines that are going to be fun to watch. But let’s break down each of the 1st round series and check out my projections of the players that have to play big in order to carry their teams throughout the playoff.
Miami vs. Milwaukee: This is going to be a clean sweep. However, if Milwaukee does manage to win 1 game, the difference maker in that will be Luc Mbah a Moute. Miami will always be a well-rounded team because their big 3 are all prolific as individuals. The Bucks don’t have a real edge over this Miami team. No one criticizes the Heat’s lack of inside presence because Lebron is a near impossible-to-guard player. However, Mbah a Moute has to find a way to lock him down on the outside. Miami wants to have as much as rest as they can for the 2nd round and conference finals. So I do think that this series will be done in 4 games.
New York vs. Boston: Melo vs. KG part 2! This will not be an easy series, even though the Knicks clearly have better talent. The X factor in this series is a draw between Iman Shumpert and Chris Copeland. I’ve been a champion of Copeland and was thrilled to finally see him get substantial playing time as the stars rested. While much of the offensive burden will be on Melo, Jr. Smith, and Felton, Shump has to defend well and Copeland has to maintain confidence in his shot. For the month of April, he shot 49% from the field and averaged 15 points. The X factor for Boston will likely be Jeff Green. He’s a poor man’s Chris Bosh in the sense of he’s a great mid range shooter, but not always aggressive on the boards. This is a series that’ll be won based on consistent offensive production and grabbing offensive rebounds. New York wins in 6.
Brooklyn vs. Chicago: This is the only series in the East that I believe can go either way. Derrick Rose is not walking through those doors. So in this series, it’ll have to be Jimmy Butler and Gerald Wallace. Wallace has been a bit of a disappointment for the Nets because of injury. Yet now is the time for him to show that his contributions as a veteran are still valuable. For BK to win, Wallace has to come off the bench and score 10-12 points and grab 5-6 rebounds. On the other side, Jimmy Butler is 1 of the best young defenders in the East. For the month of April, he’s averaging almost 15 and 6 playing 42 minutes per game. His effectiveness will keep Chicago around. I predict Chicago wins in 6.
Indiana vs. Atlanta: This is probably the only series nobody really cares about. Therefore it doesn’t warrant an explanation. The bottom line is if Hibbert plays smarter than he’s been playing, Indiana wins in 5.
San Antonio vs. Lakers: Man oh man, this series will be a thriller. Watching the Lakers play Houston was indicative that Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol are capable of handling the pressure, despite their own struggles. Steve Blake also played well under the sense of urgency. They’ve never been in this type of situation during the Kobe era. The Spurs are boring, but much like Miami, they have their stars and really great role players. Most importantly, T-Mac is back! Tracy McGrady will be suiting up and he’s been playing very well over in China all year. So despite Lakers Nation being behind their team, I think this series is all Spurs 4-0.
OKC vs. Houston: I feel bad for Houston honestly. With all of their young talent, they could’ve upset San Antonio. But they don’t stand a chance against the Thunder. There’s so much intertwined between these teams. OKC is bigger and stronger. They know James Harden very well so I don’t expect him to be able to put up 30+ points like he’s been doing most of the season. In a 7 game series, Houston just don’t have enough gas to beat them. But for any of the games to at least be hard-fought and close, the difference maker will be Chandler Parsons. OKC wins in a sweep though.
Denver vs. Golden State: I’m happy for Coach Mark Jackson. This will definitely be the most entertaining and higher scoring series. Both teams are evenly matched at every starting position. Denver has the deeper and more talented bench. But Steph Curry and Klay Thompson can easily be a 50+ point scoring back court. I mean Curry can go for 50 on his own. Jarrett Jack will have to keep up with Ty Lawson in order for the Warriors to have a shot. I’m putting money on Golden State.
Clippers vs. Memphis: I believe Memphis will upset the Clippers and it’ll come down to Mike Conley playing well. Lob City will have some great alley oops and they’ll likely lead in fast break points. But I’ve been gassing Memphis all year primarily because of Conley. He’s a guard that’s capable of taking CP3 out of his usual uptempo style of play. As long as Memphis plays their speed and Conley attacks the rim, Memphis will beat the Clippers in 6 games.
What are your predictions? Any upsets?