April 22, 2014 by Ell and Mike Sports
Ell’s 1st Round NBA Playoff Predictions
1. Spurs vs. 8. Dallas
The Spurs are going to make this series go by very quickly as the talent and experience of the Spurs will be too much. Dallas is a tough, scrappy team, but Dirk and Monta Ellis will not be enough for the original Big 3. Dallas did a good job to will their way into the playoffs, but by losing the last game of the season to the Grizzles securing the 8th spot, they are in for a nightmare matchup with the deep Spurs. Duncan negates the play of Dirk and they have no answer for the speed of Parker and Ginobili. Parker and Duncan were too much for the Mavs in Game 1 and that should be the theme as they don’t have anything to stop it.
Spurs 4-1 – Dallas will win Game 4 in an attempt to not go home, but the Spurs are too talented.
4. Rockets vs. 5. Blazers
This was the only matchup in the West where I saw an upset coming on and I still stand by my theory that the Blazers are the more talented team. The Blazers were one of the best teams in the 1st half until cooling off in the 2nd half, but with everyone healthy the starting 5 is ready to go. I feel sorry for the pressure Dwight Howard will feel with a 1st round exit, but the Rockets are a young growing team outside of Harden and Howard; although, SF Chandler Parsons has grown a lot. In Game 1, just as I thought Lamarcus Aldridge, who is in the top 2 PFs currently starting in the league, was too much for 2nd year developing PF Terrance Jones. PF Thomas Robinson even proved to be a nice X-factor who should become more involved as the series continues. Damian Lillard exposed the Rockets PG duo of Beverly and Lin, but this emphasizes a bigger point that the Rockets should have traded for a veteran PG (Rondo???).
Blazers 4-2 – Harden tries to save the Rockets, but the chemistry and talent of the Blazers starting 5, plus veterans Mo Williams and Dorell Wright, and the athletic Thomas Robinson.
3. Clippers vs. 6. Warriors
The Clippers have seemed to finally find their groove as they are going to be healthy going into the playoffs. They have transformed into a very deep team throughout the season with a few veteran pickups and have found different lineups and rotations that show their versatility. The Warriors have played inconsistently, but have been hot lately, but they enter the series without C Andrew Bogut. This is the best playoffs matchup in my opinion of two quality teams with the potential to make an extended postseason run. In Game 1, the Warriors pulled off the tough upset behind quality play from Guards Klay Thompson and Steph Curry, aggressive play from David Lee inside, and aggressive play off the bench from Harrison Barnes. They were able to get PF Blake Griffin into foul trouble early and the Warriors bench outplayed the Clippers bench.
Clippers 4-3 – This is going to be a tough series, but the Clippers and CP3 aren’t ready to go home in the 1st round. With master motivator Coach Doc Rivers, the Clippers will find a way to pull off a huge victory to seal the deal.
2. Thunder vs. 7. Grizzlies
The Thunder come into this matchup with Durant playing MVP caliber basketball and the role players becoming more confident as he makes the team better this season. The Grizzlies did a nice job making it into the playoffs after a slow start, but they may have made a mistake winning the last game of the season securing the 7th seed leading to a matchup with OKC. The Grizz have the better big men, but the problem is there is no one to stop Durant as SF Tayshaun Prince had definitely declined. If the Grizz hope to win this matchup, they will need a much as they can get out of their big men, as well as, PG Mike Conley. In Game 1, the Thunder dominated the Grizz led by quality defense, a nice combo of Durant and Westbrook, and nice play on both ends of the floor by PF Serge Ibaka.
Thunder 4-1 – With Durant on the scoring streak he’s on and no one capable of defending him on the Grizzlies, this series should be over quickly. Durant and Westbrook have too much firepower for the Grizzlies.
1. Pacers vs. 8. Hawks
The Pacers came into this series struggling mostly on the offensive end and didn’t have an identity anymore as they were a nice defensive squad to start out the season shutting down any opponent with good inside/outside D. The Hawks willed their way into the playoffs as they fought off the hungry Knicks who tried their best to steal the 8th spot. In Game 1, the Hawks came out in executed nicely under a nice plan to be aggressive and show that they were not afraid of the challenge. The Hawks spaced the floor nicely, played good defense, and never backed down. The Pacers struggled all across the board, especially Roy Hibbert who was none existent and was negated by good perimeter play by the Hawks big men. However, I believe this is the game that will lead the Pacers on a nice playoffs streak and really motivate them to find their stride as the parts are already in place.
Pacers 4-2 – The Hawks grab another W at home, but the Pacers prove to be too much behind Paul George and the combo of Stephenson and Turner will finally work out to be a good thing during this series.
4. Bulls vs. 5. Wizards
The Bulls have been resilient all season without star PG Derrick Rose and losing their best perimeter defender in Luol Deng via trade midseason, but they have continued to play team defense and play through their big men; mostly star C Joakim Noah who has really turned into a great facilitator this season. The Wizards have surprised everyone making the playoffs for the first time in years thanks to a healthy John Wall and a good mix of youth and veteran presence on the team. I thought the play of the big men from the Bulls would be too much in this series, but in Game 1 with Nene back he really dominated inside and played well off the more defensive-minded Gortat.
Wizards 4-2 – I think the Bulls will get exposed as they lack a true PG to challenge John Wall, although Hinrich and Augustin is a nice duo. The Wizards have a nice starting 5 with nice chemistry and just enough offensive firepower to give the Bulls a problem. The play of the big men in this series should offset, although Noah should prove his dominance in 2 games.
3. Raptors vs. 6. Nets
The Raptors come into the playoffs playing good basketball behind a nice young core which plays with athleticism and toughness every night giving a full out team effort, but will this be productive in the playoffs. The Nets have been hot and have worked their way back from a slow start to find their stride late in the season despite all of the injuries. The Nets are a team that just seem too experienced and should play smarter basketball to overcome the mismatch of speed and athleticism. If the Raptors want to win, they have to get things moving with good defense and fast break points lead by their big 3 of Lowry, Derozan, and Valanciunas. In Game 1, the Raptors gave a nice effort, but the veteran play of the Nets was too much as Pierce and Garnett came up big late. The game could have gone either way, but experience was really the difference as the veteran Nets never faltered.
Nets 4-1 – The Nets have been through too much to look back now and couldn’t have asked for a better matchup than the inexperienced Raptors which puts them at a great advantage. I think the Raptors can pull one off at home with great guard play, but the Nets should have this one in the bag.
2. Heat vs. 7. Bobcats
The Heat have continued to play playoff caliber defense throughout the season and the star of the league LeBron James continues to shine, but are they good enough to win it again is the question. The health of Dwayne Wade has been a question all season and how much they get from C Greg Oden and veteran F Michael Beasley will be the question. The Bobcats have really surprised people season and they have finally made it back to the playoffs thanks to growth in the play by Kemba Walker and the great pickup of PF/C Al Jefferson who has been an absolute beast inside this season. However, these teams are on two different ends of the spectrum which will lead to an easy series and a nice rest for the Heat; especially LeBron. In Game 1, the Heat outstood an onslaught by Al Jefferson in the 1st half and that will be the worst of their problems as the Heat’s defense and the combo of James and Wade were too much.
Heat 4-0 – The Heat are on a mission and this is just a learning experience for the Bobcats. The Heat can’t wait to get some much needed rest which would really help their chances.