NBA Playoffs 2014 RRS feed

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  • When the calendar turns to April (or more specifically, mid-April), NBA fans anticipate the arrival the best time of the year, and the 2014 NBA Playoffs are no exception. Despite talk of the Eastern Conference that centered around words like “disaster” and “mess”, that half of the league has actually produced some relatively entertaining match-ups.

    That intrigue is highlighted by what should be an incredibly competitive series between the Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets and a knockdown, drag-out brawl between two major markets with the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards squaring off. https://www.facebook.com/ufconfox11livestream

    In the West, everyone has been talking about just how fantastic these 2014 Playoffs should be, and the pairings are utterly tremendous. For reference, the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks rekindle their spirited playoff rivalry, while the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors provide what could be a series that is consistently played with high-flying dunks and barrages of three-pointers in order to present the dream pairing for casual observers. http://vk.com/hopkinsvshumenovlivestream

    This space is dedicated toward giving you a little bit of a taste of what is in store, while taking you all the way through the playoffs (and into June) with predictions of who will come out on top when the basketballs begin to bounce. Without further ado, let’s get it going! http://vk.com/netsvsraptorslive

    Eastern Conference

    No. 1 Indiana vs. No. 8 Atlanta – The Pacers (obviously) enter as a significant favorite in a series that they begin as the number 1 seed, but with how Indiana has played recently (they finished the year with a 10-13 mark in their last 23 games), nothing is assured. Atlanta hasn’t been at full strength since Al Horford exited with injury more than 50 games ago, but they are still blessed with firepower from 3-point range and a quality coach in Mike Budenholzer. Indy will win, but it won’t be a cake walk. Pacers in 7 http://vk.com/warriorsvsclipperslive

    No. 2 Miami vs. No. 7 Charlotte – Because of how poorly the No. 1-seed Indiana Pacers are playing at the moment, this is likely the most lopsided of the eight series taking place in the first round. To be fair, the Bobcats have impressed the entire league behind Al Jefferson and company this season, but when LeBron James and a (healthy) Wade team up against a team that has documented issues on the offensive end, the results can get ugly in a hurry. Heat in 5 http://vk.com/hawksvspacerslive

    No. 3 Toronto vs. No. 6 Brooklyn – Upset! Toronto enters the playoffs for the first time in a long while after an impressive, 48-win season, but the Raptors are a team that has very little in the way of playoff experience, and that is a recipe for disaster against this Brooklyn team. The Nets have struggled at times this season (especially in the early going), but since moving Kevin Garnett to the center spot, they have been on a 50+-win pace, and Brooklyn brings four guys (Garnett, Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson, Deron Williams) with extensive playoff experience to the table. Give me the underdog. Nets in 6 http://vk.com/thundervsgrizzlieslive

    No. 4 Chicago vs. No. 5 Washington – The 4/5 match-up in the East brings a nice face-off of contrasting styles, as the Bulls play a grinding, defense-based style while the Wizards like to get up and down with young guns like John Wall and Bradley Beal. From a pure talent standpoint, Chicago is lacking in the absence of Derrick Rose, but Tom Thibodeau will have his crew ready, and the Bulls are battle-tested to the point where it’s tough to pick the Wizards. Bulls in 7

    Western Conference

    No. 1 San Antonio vs. No. 8 Dallas – It’s hard to fathom that the Spurs and Mavericks can be facing off in a 1/8 match-up, but that is the nature of the beast in this year’s Western Conference, and that’s unfortunate for Dallas. San Antonio mowed through Dirk and company to the tune of a 4-0 series sweep this season, and the Spurs finished the regular season ranked in the top-6 in both offensive and defense efficiency. The Mavs have enough talent (read: Dirk going off) to steal one, but Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and the entire Spurs cast are just too much.  Spurs in 5

    No. 2 Oklahoma City vs. No. 7 Memphis – This is an ultra-intriguing series and these two clubs always seem to play classic basketball games. Memphis is considerably better than their final record (50-32) would indicate, thanks to a long term injury to Marc Gasol, but the Grizzlies still aren’t quite up to the task of consistently scoring points to keep up with OKC. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are the best two players in the series, and we’ll back them. Thunder in 5

    No. 3 Los Angeles Clippers vs. No. 6 Golden State – Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, and Blake Griffin in the same series? Sign me up! The Clippers and Warriors are two of the most exciting teams to watch in the league, but more than that, you won’t find two more appealing ball-handlers than Curry and Paul. The Clippers are the more dynamic team in my mind, and with the recent health concerns for the Dubs (Andrew Bogut is out indefinitely), the lean is to Los Angeles. Clippers in 6

    No. 4 Houston vs. No. 5 Portland – Houston and Portland aren’t as “sexy” as some of the other teams, and therefore, this series won’t generate quite the same buzz. However, these two teams rank 4th and 5th in offensive efficiency this season (both scoring more than 108 points per 100 possessions), and there won’t be a shortage of offense. James Harden and Dwight Howard don’t exactly play “pretty” basketball at times, but the Rockets will make enough threes to overwhelm LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard and the upstart Blazers. Rockets in 7

    Eastern Conference

    No. 1 Indiana vs. No. 4 Chicago – The term “slugfest” is thrown around a great deal in sports, but this is the true definition. The Pacers and Bulls are the two best defensive clubs in the NBA and neither of them can claim to have an above-average offense. Translation? These games will be played in the 80′s (if that), and they’ll all be tight in nature. Indiana has more talent, but something about Chicago, whether it be Joakim Noah or Tom Thibodeau, makes me trust the Bulls, and the Pacers simply aren’t playing well right now. Bulls in 6

    No. 2 Miami vs. No. 6 Brooklyn – Be ready to hear a lot of stories about how Brooklyn swept the season series with Miami, and then, prepare for the Heat to flip the script. It is undeniably true that the Nets play the Heat very well, thanks to a unique brand of basketball that slows things down and matches up with Miami’s speed, but in the playoffs (and when Miami is cooking), I’ll take the team with the better talent, and that is Miami every single time. Heat in 5

    Western Conference

    No. 1 San Antonio vs. No. 4 Houston – Speaking of series sweeps, the Rockets owned the Spurs to the tune of a 4-0 clip, but yet again, I’m not buying it. San Antonio brings a different level of execution to the table, and in a long series where Gregg Popovich can specifically game-plan against a relatively green coach like Kevin McHale, give me San Antonio, although it may be closer than most would believe. Spurs in 5

    No. 2 Oklahoma City vs. No. 3 Los Angeles Clippers – After examining this series, it may be the ideal match-up from a viewing perspective in the West. Oklahoma City (obviously) has the best scorer in the world, but it was the Clippers who led the league in offense this season, and if there is a player to build a crunch-time unit around, Chris Paul is on the short list. The Clippers will have plenty of bodies to throw at Durant, but in the end, KD will do just enough to escape with a win in the clincher. Thunder in 7

    No. 2 Miami vs. No. 4 Chicago – Remember the 2012-2013 playoffs? Well, the Heat ran through the Bulls in 5 games and only one of Miami’s wins was particularly competitive. If Miami plays their game, there is almost no scenario in which they lose to this far less talented Chicago roster, and to be honest, it is a tip of the cap to Thibodeau and Noah that we’ll give the Bulls two wins in the series. Pending health to the “big three”, you have to take the champs. Heat in 6

    Western Conference

    No. 1 San Antonio vs. No. 2 Oklahoma City – Perhaps my favorite series on the entire board pits the defending Western Conference champions against the team that they dethroned last season. Oklahoma City fans would tell you (and they would be right) that entire landscape would have been different if Russell Westbrook was available, but even with that, San Antonio blitzed through the West last year, even grabbing a sweep over Memphis in the conference finals. I believe these were the best two teams in the NBA this season, but with the money on the table, San Antonio is the one collective unit (Pop, Duncan, etc.) that I would pick to game-plan against Durant and Westbrook. Give me the Spurs, but I don’t feel great about this one. Spurs in 7

    Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs

    Rematch? REMATCH! Last season’s NBA Finals were legendary in how they transpired, especially late in the series, and the rematch could be even better. Miami took a step back in the regular season this year, and that included LeBron James coasting a bit (sorry, LBJ) and Dwyane Wade missing more than a third of the season with various maladies (copyright, Gregg Popovich). In fact, if we examine the series on paper by this season alone, the Spurs would be the easy selection as the team with the significantly better record and net rating.

    Except, this series isn’t being played on paper.

    LeBron James is nearly impossible to pick against at this stage in his career, especially after Miami was able to overcome all obstacles in grabbing last year’s title. With that, though, San Antonio has been insanely impressive in responding to that high-level adversity by arguably coming back even better in 2013-2014 and blasting through all comers.

    From a match-up perspective, the Heat have no one to deal with Tim Duncan, but they were able to curtail Tony Parker last season (using LeBron James on defense) and that is a trump card that Erik Spoelstra can deploy. On the other end, Kawhi Leonard has had another season to develop and he’s a monster, but there is nothing on this planet that can slow down LeBron when he has it going, and that has to be at the forefront of any conversation regarding the Heat.

    What am I trying to say?

    Well, this series is dead even. Dead. Even.

    After flipping back and forth from one side to the other at least a half dozen times, I’ve settled (“settled”) on a projected NBA Champion, but for die-hard NBA fans, this is as fun as it gets, and to be frank, I hope this series takes place for the second straight year. It’s been a tremendous NBA campaign, and we’re in for a great two months, so stay tuned!

    Spurs in 7.

    Saturday, April 19, 2014 3:56 PM