Sports department for the student run radio station 90.3 WRST at UW-Oshkosh
Finally! The time is here to break down the playoffs. After weeks of looking just how pitifully the Bucks could back their way in we are finally here and I have a direct reason to break down games and series not involving the Bucks. In this post I will break down the first round in some detail and give my predictions for the remaining rounds in brief. I will break down those rounds in more detail at a later date. Onto the show!
Bucks v Heat
The Heat win if: They show up. Seriously that basically is what it comes down to. This team has beaten teams of late without the big 3 in the line up. That is a scary proposition for any team much less the hapless Bucks.
The Bucks win if: The big 3 come down with Mono. That is basically what it would take for the Bucks to pull this off. If any of the big 3 is healthy it is game over for this team that is injured and has struggled in every facet of the game, especially down the stretch.
Prediction: Pain, but seriously the Heat in 4 because unlike Monte Ellis, they really do have it all.
Knicks v Celtics
The Knicks win if: They hit their threes and Amar’e stays far away from the court. The Knicks have lived by the 3 all year and have a multifaceted scoring attack. They have identity, leadership and talent; things that in most years would allow this team to compete for a title.
The Celtics win if: Rondo comes back and plays. In all seriousness though it would take some pretty outstanding performances from Garnett, Pierce, Bradley and Green to get this done. The Celtics aren’t untalented; they are just old and injured. Still leaps and bounds above Milwaukee but quite a ways behind the contenders.
Prediction: Knicks in 5. Boston likely takes game 3 in the TD garden but the Knicks should take care of business after that.
Pacers v Hawks
The Pacers win if: They play defense to the level they are capable of. The Hawks are not known for being scrappy or a defensive minded bunch so if the Pacers muck things up and slow the game down it plays into their hands big time. The Pacers are 2nd in the league in PPG defense.
The Hawks win if: The Pacers can’t score. The Pacers rank 23rd in PPG offense and 28th in Assists Per Game. Meanwhile Atlanta is 2nd in Assists Per Game. If the Hawks move the ball and manage to get open looks against Indiana’s tough defense routinely, they can win the series.
Prediction: Pacers in 5. Indiana’s defense is just too much while Atlanta is just mediocre on both ends.
Nets v Bulls
The Nets win if: They hit big shots. The Nets defiantly win the “star power” category with Derrick Rose out for the Bulls. Deron Williams and Joe Johnson might just be the best two players on the floor when these two teams match up. The Bulls struggle to score so if the Nets can keep the pressure on by scoring at a good clip they can come out on top.
The Bulls win if: They squeeze the rock, play their D and find a way to get the ball in the hoop. The Bulls have the league’s 3rd best defense in terms of points per game. If they continue to do the little things as coach T has taught them they can up end Brooklyn.
Prediction: Bulls in 6. Defense will be a theme in my picks; it is key in the playoffs.
OKC v Houston
OKC wins if: Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka do their thing. Due to the Heat in the east this team has managed to fly under the radar this season. I am not saying they do not have high expectations placed on them but until this point the scrutiny has been minimal for this squad. I think this is good for the development of the team.
Houston wins if: Harden, Lin and Asik become Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka. Look Harden is a fine player, my friend Puma’s favorite in fact, but the point still remains that he was the 3rd best player for OKC last season. Now he is the best player for Houston. That is a major talent disparity that will be tough for the Rockets to overcome.
Prediction: OKC in 6. OKC is too good to lose but Houston is too good to go down without a fight.
San Antonio v Los Angeles Lakers
San Antonio wins if: Everyone gets/stays healthy. This team is like a fine Swiss timepiece; each piece needs to be in its place doing its job in order for the machine to work. When it does it is a thing of beauty. When it doesn’t though, it is only right twice a day.
Los Angeles wins if: Kobe gets healthy. Well we all know this isn’t happening so LA is banking on SA to be just as crushed by injury in order to stand a chance.
Prediction: SA in 7. This series will be tough to watch.
Denver v Golden State
Denver wins if: They keep the pace up. Denver scores, rebounds and passes with the best in the league. This is a well-rounded team that can survive despite some key injuries.
Golden State wins if: Young guys grow up fast. These guys are much like the Nuggets in that I like their depth but they need some playoff experience first.
Prediction: Denver in 5. Curry will go off in one game for a GSW win.
Los Angeles Clippers v Memphis Grizzles
Los Angeles wins if: The bench mob comes alive. This team has plenty of playoff experience and a very talented backcourt. They also rank 4th in defensive points per game. These are some key ingredients to a deep playoff run.
Memphis wins if: Defense wins championships. The leagues best defense and it allows less than 90 points per game. Points are always tough to come by in the playoffs but even more so in the grind house.
Prediction: Memphis in 7. This is the toughest call for me, the best series in the first round, and will have some serious impact down the road because I consider both of these teams true contenders in the west.
Playoff predictions going forward:
I have the Heat and Knicks facing off in the ECF with the Heat winning. In the WCF I have Memphis beating Denver. In the finals the Heat beat the Griz. My head tells me a Finals rematch is in order but what fun is that. And I also know my Memphis pick is different from my pick on the Sports Page earlier today but I reserved my right to change it and consider this my official selection.
World of Sports:
I am very excited for the Wisconsin spring game on 4/20. This is probably the most excited I have ever been for a spring game. I am very interested to see what Coach Andersen and crew have in store, particularly with that 3-4 defense that Packer fans have grown used to.
Yours in basketball,