tim duncan

Miller’s NBA Playoff Predictions

(April 20)

In my first year trying I dominated my fantasy basketball league, finishing 9 (Roto) points ahead of the next guy, grabbing the most assists, steals, blocks, and three pointers. Now that that is done, the next obstacle is the real NBA Playoffs.

Generally, the playoffs go to the teams that play better defense, shoot better free throws and stay healthy, and that is where I trend.  Here are my picks for the first round (in order of comment length). There are traditionally few upsets in the NBA, but I pick some.

Nets vs. Bulls: When the Nets fired Avery Johnson back in the day when they were 14-14 I said it was a good thing for the team and that Brooklyn will improve and not only make the playoffs but they would win a series. Joachim Noah has a bad foot that makes him doubtful for Game 1 and compromised in the series. Derrick Rose could surprise everyone and decide to play, and that could change things as the Nets have struggled against quick and offense-minded point guards. But Rose hasn’t faced NBA competition in twelve months, so even if he did play he wouldn’t be effective. Meanwhile, Deron Williams and Brook Lopez are playing their best ball of the year right now, and a few extra days off should help Joe Johnson be in prime condition. Reggie Evans has emerged as the best rebounder in the NBA. Historically, D-Will performs at the highest level in the playoffs. Bulls are a trendy pick; in fact, it seems like the Nets are the underdogs. Nets advance in their first year in Brooklyn. Nets in 5

Knicks vs. Celtics. Knicks set the record for most threes in a season. Historically, teams reliant on the three-ball have not done as well in the playoffs. Also, the Knicks haven’t won a playoff series in thirteen years. They are facing a Celtics team that is missing Rajon Rondo but still has KG, Paul Pierce and Doc Rivers, along with Jason Terry off the bench who has hit big playoff shots in his career. Celtics have been waiting for the playoffs for a month now. They don’t have much depth, especially in the middle, and that could cause concern, especially if Garnett gets in foul trouble. Carmelo Anthony is the best player in the series, but if he and J.R. Smith fall in love with the mid-range and shots from downtown, Boston will come away on top. And how nice that would be for a city coming off such a terrible tragedy. Celtics in 7

Nuggets and Warriors. I like the Warriors’ team and I want to pick them here, but for a lot of the same reason as the Knicks, I’ve gotta go with Denver. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are great shooters but in the playoffs the better defensive team usually controls the game. Even in Curry’s best games when he takes over the Warriors still typically don’t win. And the Nuggets are really solid perimeter defenders. One concern for Denver is health; they are losing players (Gallinari, Faried, etc.) at the wrong time of the year. If Golden State can get the ball inside to David Lee and Andrew Bogut regularly rather than I like their chances but I’m afraid they won’t do that. Nuggets in 7

- Clippers vs. Grizzlies. These are two great teams in one of the best matchups of the first round and a rematch of last year. Lob City won in seven games last year, but I’ve gotta go with my gut and my heart and pick the Grizzlies; I like their defense and inside game with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. And to pick another stat I like, Memphis is a Top Ten free throw team while the Clippers are a bottom five, and free throws could make the difference in a long tight series. Grizzlies in 7

- Thunder and Rockets. An intriguing matchup as James Harden faces his former team. There was a lot of talk at the beginning of the season as to whether the Thunder made a big mistake “breaking up the band” so early but they still managed to finish on top in the West and are the favorites to represent in the Finals again. Rockets are exciting with Harden, James Lin, Chandler Parsons and Thomas Robinson but they just don’t play much defense and OKC is simply a much better team. Thunder in 6

Spurs vs. Lakers. Lakers aren’t very good with or without Kobe. Tim Duncan is having one of his best ever seasons and now is where his focus has been. There is no focus in LA and Dwight Howard is going to be shooting about 18 free throws a game. How many can he make? Not enough. I like San Antonio big in this series. Spurs in 4

Heat vs. Bucks.  LeBron and Bosh are playing their best ball of their careers and while Wade has played in just 3 of the last 10 games, he played 23 effective minutes in their last contest. Heat haven’t even been trying and they’ve still won 8 in a row. Won’t be a sweep, but the Bucks won’t challenge the Heat too much. Heat in 5

Pacers vs. Hawks. Atlanta has been falling apart lately and they just aren’t that good! They haven’t beaten anybody good in over a month. Indiana’s defense will wear out the Hawks and end the series quickly. Pacers in 5

EAST
Heat in 5
Celtics in 7
Pacers in 5
Nets in 5
WEST
Spurs in 4
Thunder in 6
Nuggets in 7
Grizzlies in 7
FINALS
Heat over Spurs in 6