The NBA playoffs start tonight at 5:30pm BST. Which means I have to either have dinner early, or get the missus to have it ready for half time…er anyway here’s my thoughts:
Cleveland Cavaliers v Detroit Pistons
The Cavs are the clear favourites to win the East. Quite rightly so, but their sum is not the equal of their parts. While I think they’ll have problems in later series, they shouldn’t here against Detroit.
Cavs in 5
Toronto Raptors v Indiana Pacers
Many reckon this is going to be a straight forward Toronto series win, I’m not so sure. Toronto have gone out in the first round the last 2 years. If they’re ever going to have a good run in the playoffs, it’s this year. Lowry has had a great season, but has dropped off since the ASB mostly due a prolonged elbow injury, and is the wrong side of 30. DeRozan has also had a career year and may be playing elsewhere next season. I think whoever ends up paying him a max contract will regret it.
Dwayne Casey is a pretty average coach, with Vogel the Pacers have the advantage there. I’m expecting games with a slow pace, a half court game will suit the Pacers with their tough defence. But on the other side of the court the Pacers have struggled at time in the 4th Q offensively.
The most likely result is the Raptors going through in 5. But I think Indiana are underrated in this matchup and are available at 4.10 to progress, I’ve had some of that.
Miami Heat v Charlotte Hornets
I was going to write about how Charlotte are underrated here and are a good bet to win…I think I’ve talked myself out of it though. I was tempted to back Charlotte to win the series but I think Miami have a lot more experience and are going to get the calls in their favour. There’s been some chat recently, backed up by a convincing YouTube video on how J. Lin gets no calls ever:
Also the older guys in Miami may suddenly have an extra spring in their step…I do think this is going 6 games or 7 though.
Miami in 7
Atlanta Hawks v Boston Celtics
For most of the season the Celtics looked like they were going to get the 3rd seed. They missed Crowder when he was out after the ASB and dropped down to the 5th seed where they face Atlanta.
I think this is a bad matchup for Boston, they’re going to have trouble with Horford & Millsap. Boston don’t have great bigs defensively. And they’re not going to have the success they usually have going small when Millsap can defend multiple positions.
Having said that, Boston are still a good team, with some very good players and obviously have an excellent coach. So it’s very likely that this series goes to 6 or 7 games.
Atlanta in 7
Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets
I mentioned last time that I’ve already bet on GSW to win the championship at 1.943. Pinnacle currently have them at 1.675. As I’ve said before only an injury to Curry or Draymond stops them.
In the first round the Warriors start off against Houston, the biggest disappointment of the regular season. GSW have a 3-0 record over them so far this season, and will have no problems in this series.
Houston have plenty of problems. Some of which are easy to fix, such as just giving more effort on D. They get beat back on D a lot, and if certain players actually communicate more, or gave more concentration they would at least give up less back door cuts.
One problem that isn’t easy to solve is that without Harden, they won’t be able to score. Bigger problem is that GSW have multiple players able to guard him. Dwight Howard is past it. Here’s another player that is going to get a max contract, and whoever gives him it will regret it.
The only question here is if Houston wins a game. Forget about the series, Houston should be happy to win one game. They’ll need Harden to play 40+ minutes, hope that they shoot great from 3 and crash the O boards.
GSW in 4
San Antonio Spurs v Memphis Grizzlies
When Gasol went down for the season, I thought the Grizzlies would suck. Even more players went down and they’ve done incredibly well considering. Joerger has done a hell of a job. Still there’s only so much you can do with the players available against a great team like the Spurs.
Spurs in 4 and is available at 2.10
Oklahoma City Thunder v Dallas Mavericks
Just look at the team Dallas has got into the playoffs with, it’s pretty incredible. It just shows what a great coach Carlisle is. They’ve been playing JJ Barea and Felton at PG. They’re a team with hardly any athletism. Wes Matthew is probably the most athletic player to get plenty of mintues, that’s a guy who came back from an ACL tear. While Dirk can sink an open shot, he’s so immobile, and a complete liability on D. (check out those lineup that have Dirk and David Lee as the bigs!).
So athleticism is a problem and they line up against a team with Westbrook and Durant. Good luck with that! If the coaches swopped, this would finish 4-0 to OKC easy. But this way round the Mavs can win a game at home.
OKC in 5 is most likely, but OKC 4-0 is available at a crazy 3.60.
Los Angeles Clippers v Portland Trail Blazers
The series is the best chance of an upset in the West…and I don’t think it will happen. Portland have had a great season, they were expected to win 26.5 games, but have ended up with the 5th seed. But the Clippers have a lot more talent. Lillard is excellent offensively, but faces up against one of the best guard defenders in CP3. Lillard is a terrible defender, on D he’ll either have to deal with the CP3-Jordan PNR basketball cheat code, or he’ll have to chase JJ Redick around screens.
Portland can win a game (or two), I like how Stotts always has either Lillard or McCollum on the floor at all times, while Rivers infamously throws out all bench dumpster fire lineups Still, Clippers to go through and I’ve backed Clippers -1.5 games on the series handicap at 2.10.
Clippers is 5 most likely result