After a season full of surprising upstarts, fantastic play, intriguing storylines and the Miami Heat Harlem Shake video, I am more than ready for this year’s NBA playoffs.
With an unbelievably talented Western Conference and everyone in the Eastern Conference gunning for the Heat’s throne, this is shaping up to be one of the best playoffs in a decade.
Let’s jump right in to my 2013 NBA playoff predictions. All seeds are my projections.
1. Miami Heat vs. 8. Milwaukee Bucks: Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis will have a game where they catch fire and score a combined 60 points, which will be the only thing keeping this series from being a sweep.
2. New York Knicks vs. 7. Boston Celtics: If Rajon Rondo were still healthy, this series would be much different. The return of all their injured players, combined with the hot streak Carmelo Anthony is on, makes this series a fairly easy one for New York.
3. Indiana Pacers vs. 6. Atlanta Hawks: Josh Smith and company will end their streak of second round exits this year…by exiting in the first round. The Pacers balanced play should win them the series.
4. Brooklyn Nets vs. 5. Chicago Bulls: This Bulls team will not go away. Without the injured Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, they still somehow managed to capture the fifth seed in the East. I think their toughness will be enough to knock out Deron Williams and the underachieving Nets.
1. Miami Heat vs. 5. Chicago Bulls: Even though the gritty Bulls ended the Miami Heat’s record-approaching win streak, I think LeBron James and Dwyane Wade will be too much for them in a playoff series.
2. New York Knicks vs. 3. Indiana Pacers: The only two teams with a real chance to defeat the Miami Heat in this conference. Paul George will continue his stellar overall play to stretch this series to seven games, but the Knicks will prove to be too high-powered for the plodding Pacers.
1. Miami Heat vs. 2. New York Knicks: Carmelo Anthony will have to average 40 points per game in this series, which he is actually capable of, if the Knicks want to defeat the Heat’s big three. Unfortunately for the Knicks, I do not believe that is going to happen.
1. Oklahoma City Thunder vs. 8. Houston Rockets: James Harden and his magnificent beard get a crack at the team that traded him away. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will ultimately prove to be too much in a sure-to-be emotional series.
2. San Antonio Spurs vs. 7. Los Angeles Lakers: As much criticism as the Lakers have received all season, you cannot find a team who isn’t terrified of playing them in the first round. A healthy Manu Ginobili will be the key to a Spurs victory in this series, but now that Kobe Bryant is hurt, his team of all-stars will go down swinging.
3. Denver Nuggets vs. 6. Golden State Warriors: The first team to score 150 points wins. The barrage of scoring in this fast-paced series will be head-spinning. The more experienced Nuggets will send Stephen Curry home in his first postseason since that magical March Madness run he had with Davidson.
4. Los Angeles Clippers vs. 5. Memphis Grizzlies: In a rematch of last year’s seven game war, Chris Paul will find a way for his team to win in a series that is guaranteed to be brutal. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol will not go down easily.
1. Oklahoma City Thunder vs. 4. Los Angeles Clippers: The Clippers’ frighteningly deep bench and seemingly never-ending energy will not be enough to oust the Thunder on their quest for vengeance. However, the Clippers will undoubtedly win in the commercial department, with Chris Paul’s commercials for State Farm and Blake Griffin’s commercials for everything.
2. San Antonio Spurs vs. 3. Denver Nuggets: As great as Tony Parker and the revitalized Tim Duncan have been all season, I am taking the high-scoring, hard-working Nuggets to win this series. Picking against Gregg Popovich in the playoffs is always risky, but I think the Nuggets have what it takes to knock off the Spurs.
1. Oklahoma City Thunder vs. 3. Denver Nuggets: The Nuggets lack of a true closer (the Andre’s Igoudala and Miller will not do the trick) will ultimately prove to be their downfall. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will fill up the box scores in this series.
1. Oklahoma City Thunder vs. 4. Los Angeles Clippers: Not even Chris Paul and his teammates’ seemingly never-ending energy will be able to oust the Thunder on their quest for vengeance. However, the Clippers will undoubtedly win in the commercial department, with Chris Paul’s commercials for State Farm and Blake Griffin’s commercials for everything.
Miami Heat vs. Oklahoma City Thunder: In a rematch of last year’s finals that saw the Miami Heat win in an action-packed six game series, I expect Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder to come out guns blazing. Despite the expected brilliance from the league’s best player (LeBron James) and solid performances from the two best sidekicks in the NBA (Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh), I am taking the Thunder to win this series. It will take them the full seven games, copious amounts of big plays from Durant and Russell Westbrook, and a few lucky bounces, but I believe that the Oklahoma City Thunder will pull off the victory in this year’s NBA Finals.