It’s been a while since I blogged so I figured what better way to get back into the scheme of things than kicking off my annual playoff previews and predictions. With an exciting day of games just complete, the NBA playoff brackets are finally set up so I’m going to go ahead and start previews by seed matchups. Hopefully I’ll get all of these out of the way before the playoffs start up on Saturday!
This series is a match made in David Stern heaven, which probably explains the questionable officiating in the final regular season NBA game between the Lakers and the Rockets. The obvious storyline at play here is James Harden returning to the city that made him and his magnificent beard famous and trying to topple them in the playoffs. Harden has a lot to prove since the Thunder front office essentially told him they didn’t think he was worth the money.
In the regular season, the Rockets fell 2-1 to the Thunder, managing to record a 3-point victory in their final attempt after two lopsided blowouts. In that victory, Harden had 46 points, going 14-19 from the floor including 7-8 from the three point line. In the losses, Harden averaged 21.0, shooting 9-33 from the field (4-12 from deep). Going by Harden’s efficiency over the last month or so, I don’t see this improving anytime soon, especially given that Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins will be erasing a lot of shots at the rim. I feel like Jeremy Lin is going to be spending most of his night running around trying to catch Russell Westbrook and hence is offense will be stagnant.
For the Rockets to win, they’ll have to shoot lights out over the course of the series because defensively they have no one to stop Kevin Durant and Westbrook. For a team that shoots so many threes, I figure that they’ll catch enough fire at least once in the first four games to steal one. I see this OKC winning the first two at home, the Rockets winning the third and losing the fourth before the Thunder wrap it up at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Sadface.
PREDICTION: Thunder win in 5 (4-1)
The Bucks may have stolen a regular season match-up from the Heat but with the league’s MVP (LeBron James), official cry-baby (Dwyane Wade) and resident velociraptor (Chris Bosh) and surrounded by sharpshooters from deep, I don’t see them repeating any of it in this first round match-up. The Heat have been on cruise control since February and have been outplaying opponents with ferocity.
Really, the only shot Milwaukee has is if LeBron has a debilitating injury. A team more inclined to play down low may have been able to steal a game away but the Bucks’ best players are Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. Sure, Larry Sanders may have a few exciting defensive plays, but I wouldn’t put my money on the Bucks being able to stop anything the Heat do offensively.
PREDICTION: Heat win in 4 (4-0)
I hope to hit up the 2-7 match-up tomorrow!