Thursday, April 14, 2016

Sports: NBA Playoffs (Preview)

Th 2015-2016 NBA Season is over and I was torn between writing a season recap post or a preview post for the playoffs. Since I am looking forward to the playoffs, I will choose them to look back at the season while look forward to the potential matchups and make some predictions along the way. I will predict who will win it all and then edit my picks as the playoffs progress. I will also go through the games with the ones starting on Saturday first then work through the schedule.

I'm featuring the teams that I think won't make it out of the first round since they won't be discussed as we move further into the playoffs. The first game of playoffs is between the Indiana Pacers and the Toronto Raptors. The Pacers have fallen a long way since they challenged the Cleveland Cavaliers for a chance at the championship two years ago. The Pacers ranked in seventh place in the Eastern Conference and will likely fall to the Toronto Raptors.
Game 1: The Pacers took the first game of this series beating Toronto by ten points. The Raptors had the lead for most of the game but Paul George and the Indiana crew dominated in the second half. I'm glad the Playoffs have started! 4/16
Game 2: The Raptors battled back in game two and took the second game to even the series. 4/18
Game 3: The Raptors regain the lead in this series beating the Pacers by 16 points. Though they lost the first match, it looks like they can advance to the second round. 4/21 
Game 4: The Pacers looked strong and pushed past the Raptors for for a big game four victory by seventeen points. Indiana ties the series with Toronto at two. 4/23
Game 5: Back at home, the Raptors just beat the Pacers by 3 points to take the lead in the series 3-2. Indiana will return home for the next game and if they win, will play the final game in Toronto. 4/26
Game 6: The Pacers comeback with a 18 point win over the Raptors. The final game will be in Toronto where Indian will have its last chance to survive and make it to the second round. 4/29
Game 7: The Raptors barely make it to the second round with a win over the Pacers by five points. 5/1

The Houston Rockets probably have the toughest challenge in the first round taking on the dominating Golden State Warriors in the first round. Golden State dominated this season with Stephen Curry breaking the three-point record and playing like an MVP not seen in the league before. The Rockets came in at .500 in their record and will not see the second round.
Game 1: Golden State dominated this game from the beginning to the end and ended up winning by 26 points. The Rockets will have to perform a lot better if they want to stand a chance against the reigning champs. 4/16
Game 2: Steph Curry will be out of this game with a sprained ankle. 4/18 Golden State proves that they can win even without Steph Curry beating the Rockets by by nine points. This shows that it is not only Curry but the rest of the team. Of course they are not the dominant team they are with Curry but still winners. 4/19
Game 3: In the last second, James Harden scored to allow the Rockets to have their first win by one point against the dominant Warriors who are struggling without their star Stephen Curry. I'm not sure whether he is likely to return for the next game but this could determine the series. 4/22
Game 4: The Warriors take another big victory over the Rockets by 27 points. Stephen Curry went out for a knee injury in the second half and didn't return. I don't know if he'll return for the next game. Golden State is up 3 game to one against Houston. 4/24
Game 5: Without Stephen Curry, the Warriors still take the series against the Rockets in a 33 point game five win. The Warriors will go on to play either the injured Clippers or the Trail Blazers in the second round. Still no word on Curry's return. 4/28

The matchup between the Boston Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks is one of the most exciting in the first round. The Celtics are riding a wave of momentum but I'm biased since I'm rooting for the Hawks so I'm picking the Celtics to lose this round. I will be watching closely Saturday night to see how both teams look. 
Game 1: The most exciting game of the first day so far. The Hawks held the lead for most of the game but the Celtics battled back near the end of the fourth quarter. The game came down to the final seconds but Atlanta triumphed. This will be a series to watch! 4/16
Game 2: The Hawks looked strong in the second game taking it by seventeen points. The Celtics have only a slim chance to win as they head back home. The Hawks have never lost a playoff series when up by two game to zero. I hope Schroder recovers from that injury at the end of the game. 4/19
Game 3: Boston stops Atlanta's win streak. The Celtics went on to beat the Hawks by 8 points. The Celtics were on top for most of the game and Atlanta came back at the end but couldn't come through. I hope the Hawks do better in the next game. 4/22
Game 4: An intense game leads to overtime and the Celtics pull it out ending up with a 9 point victory over the Hawks. Atlanta has a lot of injuries and plays terrible away so perhaps they'll do better when they return home. The Celtics tie up the series with this win. 4/24
Game 5: The Hawks returned home and destroyed the Celtics in a 27 point blowout. Boston will have a chance survival in their home stadium but Atlanta seems unstoppable at home. 4/27
Game 6: The Hawks win the series with an away win in Boston by twelve points against the Celtics. Atlanta faces a tough challenge next playing Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. 4/28

The Dallas Mavericks barely broke .500 in their season record which is why I think they don't stand a chance against the Oklahoma City Thunder. With Westbrook and Durant in the game, OKC will be a force to be reckoned with throughout the playoffs.
Game 1: The Thunder dominated from the start and ended up winning by 38 points. I'm predicting sweep for this late night series. 4/16
Game 2: I was wrong and the Mavericks pull out a nail-biter in the last second winning by a play that comes down to a determination by replay. The Clippers almost got the layup but not before the buzzer. Next, Dallas goes home to defend their home 4/18
Game 3: Oklahoma City bounced back stronger in the third game of the season after that close loss. The Thunder beat Dallas by 29 points. 4/21
Game 4: The Thunder defeat the Mavericks by 11 points but Kevin Durant is eject for a flagrant foul. Clipper go up 3-1 in the series. 4/23
Game 5: OKC wins the series with a 14 point final lead against the Dallas Mavericks. The Thunder will face the Spurs next round. 4/26

The Detroit Pistons also got a rough deal in the first round of the playoffs having to square off against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Lebron James. The Cavs will go far in this playoff and I'm predicting another appearance in the championship meaning the Pistons are out in the first round.
Game 1: Lebron and the Cavs took the first game by just five points over the Detroit Pistons. I don't know if this is a good sign for the Pistons or a sign of weakness for Cleveland.
Game 2: The Cavaliers win by 17 points and look to cruise to the second round over the Pistons. 4/20
Game 3: The Cavaliers are the first team to go up by three game beating the Pistons by ten points. Lebron and his team look strong and will be a contender in the East this playoffs. 4/22
Game 4: The Cavaliers sweep the Pistons to be the second team to make it to the second round. They won by just two points but that is enough for them to move on. The Cavs will play the winner of the Hawks vs Celtics matchup. 4/24

The Charlotte Hornets face a tough set of games going against a resurgent Miami Heat. The Hornets could pull off an upset but Heat looked to be a better team and will move on to the second round.

Game 1: The Heat dominated the first game of the series winning by 32 points. This looks like Miami series to lose. 4/17
Game 2: The Heat kept a steady lead in the second game not really challenged by the Hornets and winning by 12 points. Maybe Charlotte will perform better at home but not likely. 4/20
Game 3: The Hornets surprise and beat the Heat by 16. Charlotte looks better at home and may be more of a challenge with the advantage. 4/23
Game 4: The Hornets continue to excel at home and win another game by only 4 points this time against the Heat. Charlotte was on top for most of the game until Miami battle back but didn't have enough to avoid a series tie at 2 games. 4/25
Game 5: The Hornets get another win, this time away in Miami to pull ahead in the series. The Heat will have to win two straight to survive including one in Charlotte. 4/28
Game 6: The Heat take a 7 point victory against the Hornets to tie the series at 3 games each. It's Miami's series to lose as they head home to face Charlotte in the final game of this first round series. 4/29.
Game 7: Miami takes the final game against Charlotte at home by 33 points. The Heat will have to take on the winner of Portland and Indiana tonight. 5/1

The Portland Trail Blazers have it tough facing them in the LA Clippers. The Clippers are one of the most powerful teams in the West and Blazers don't have what it take to beat them. 
Game 1: The Trail Blazers kept it close through the first half but couldn't finish strong. The Clippers won by 20 points. This may be a challenge for LA but they should pull through. 4/18
Game 2: The Clippers outmatched the Trail Blazers and beat Portland by 21 points. 4/21
Game 3: The Trail Blazers win by 8 points agains the Clippers as Portland proves more friendly territory for the home team. 4/24
Game 4: Portland ties the series with a 14 point win against Los Angeles. Chris Paul of the LA Clippers has broken his hand and it does not look good so the Trail Blazers could pull out a surprise victory here. 4/26
Game 5: Due to injuries to both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, the Clippers are weak and fall to the Trail Blazers by ten points. Portland just has to win one more game at home against an ailing Los Angeles team to pull of the upset and make it to the next round of the playoffs. 4/28
Game 6; A bunch of injuries cause my first wrong prediction. The Portland Trail Blazers beat the Los Angels Clippers by 3 points for the upset/ The Trail Blazers go on to the second round against the Golden State Warriors who have also suffered an injury to their star player. Portland may be a surprise team this year! 4/30

I think the Spurs will go far and present by far the greatest challenge to the Golden State Warriors for a spot in the Western Conference championship. Though I'm rooting for the Grizzlies, I don't think they will progress to the second round.

Game 1: The Spurs proved to be a much more powerful team in this first game holding the Grizzlies to just 74 points while beating them by 29. This series might be four games as well. 4/17
Game 2: The Spurs showed up to defeat the Grizzlies again by 26 points. Memphis will have a hard time turning it around as they head home in the hole by two games. 4/20
Game 3: The Spurs continue their dominance over the Memphis Grizzlies beating them by nine points. The Spurs will be the first team with a chance to win this Sunday. 4/23
Game 4: The Spurs sweep the Grizzlies with a 21 point victory in Memphis. Spurs could face the Mavericks but most likely the Thunder. 4/24

Looking forward to the second round with my predictions of no upsets that leaves matches in the Eastern Conference of: Hawks vs. Cavs and Raptors vs. Heat. I'm taking the Cavs though I'm rooting for the Hawks and Toronto over Miami. The Cavaliers will beat the Raptors to head to the Championship. 

On the Western side, the Warrior will face the Clippers in the second round. Los Angeles has a chance to beat the top team that shares a state with them but the Warriors seem so unstoppable that I have to go with Golden State. The Warriors will go on to face the winner of the Thunder and Spurs matchup. The Thunder look good but the Spurs look second best. The Spurs will defeat the Thunder but fall to the Warriors meaning another rematch in the championship.

I'm going for a repeat with Golden State this year. I always think the NBA takes a long time to change who is the best teams in the league making for a lot of dynasties. College has the unpredictable nature and the NBA remains more consistent. Still, they have to play the games to see what will happen and I am looking forward to see how it all goes down!

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