Fantasy basketball is all about predicting and projecting (and there’s a thin line between the two) so we’re going to set this thing in motion and try to anticipate what could be the best playoffs in years. Yeah I know, everybody’s saying that every year but this time around the 2015 NBA playoffs is not mere hype. We have a healthy combination of old favorites and new superpowers in the mix for the ultimate goal: the championship.
Prediction #1: OKC passes New Orleans for No. 8 in the West
As much as I like (and intrigued) to see Anthony Davis make his postseason debut next week, the Thunder has an easier remaining schedule between the two. The Pelicans will draw Houston, Minnesota, and San Antonio on their next trio of games while OKC plays Indiana, Portland, and Minnesota.
The perceived problem with New Orleans schedule is that both the Rockets and the Spurs are looking for higher seeds (they, along with the Clippers and Grizzlies, could finish as high as the second seed or as low as the sixth). So it’s very realistic that the Texas teams will still go all out and consequently beat the Pelicans instead of sitting some rotation players out.
On the other hand, the only perceived threat in the Thunder’s draw is Indiana, who is also looking to solidify their hold in Eastern Conference playoff race. Portland can lose and still be No. 4 regardless, so it makes sense to rest their banged-up main guys up until the playoffs come around.
As you can see, it’s the heart-brain kind of thing going on here. My heart roots for the Pelicans all the way but my brain says otherwise.
Prediction #2: Another first-round exit for the Rockets
The Rockets problem is pretty much the same as it was a year ago: They rely too much on James Harden. Having a go-to-guy like The Beard is a plus no matter how you slice it but the lack of a clear third option will continue to haunt Houston in any playoff series they might encounter. (Houston is tied at 2-2 with Memphis and LAC for the season series but lost to San Antonio, 1-3, and Portland, 1-2, respectively.)
There’s a reason why GM Daryl Morey is willing to strip two-thirds of his roster to bring a legitimate third All-Star to play alongside Harden and Dwight Howard. They haven’t found one and that could also mean they would still be looking to win a playoff series since 2009 after this season is said and one.
Prediction #3: Cleveland Wins The East
Every top seed in the East is sputtering on their way to the Big Dance. Every team except Cleveland.
The Cavs are 14-5 in the last 19 games and has won eight of its past 10 including three batches of four-game winning streaks in March and April. They have some banged-up players here and there but this much talent is impossible to stop if LeBron shows them the way. He’s been doing just that in those Miami teams that were featured in the last four NBA finals so there’s no reason to believe he can’t do that again in a conference whose next best bets are either newbies in this stage (Atlanta) or just can’t stay healthy enough to sustain some momentum (Chicago).
Prediction #4: Spurs Wins The West
This one is a much tougher play but something tells me the Spurs’ 107-92 rout of Golden State is more than just a hard charge toward the No. 2 spot; it’s a message to everyone else.
Of course, with the Dubs’ talent and versatility, they can just as easily manhandle their older counterparts but the chance of that happening is lesser than what could happen the other way around. If for some reason the Warriors meet the Spurs in the second round, it could be a short post-season for Steve Kerr’s boys. Pop seems to know all of Steve Kerr’s tricks.
Prediction #5: Spurs go back-to back
Historically speaking, the odds are stacked against Pop and his boys on this one but on the other hand, they could easily be the two-time defending champs by now! If they get out of the West unscathed, there’s nothing out there in the East that can stop them, not even Cleveland or Chicago or anyone else for that matter.
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