NBA Playoff Predictions

2014 NBA Playoff bracket

2014 NBA Playoff bracket

CONFERENCE QUARTER-FINALS

WEST

1. San Antonio Spurs (4)

8. Dallas Mavericks (3)

Analysis: Going into this year’s playoffs, the Mavs had lost the last ten meetings with the Spurs. However, with the emergence of Devin Harris off the bench and a flashback to the vintage Vince Carter, the 8 seeded Mavericks made an interesting series out of what most people thought could be a sweep. The Spurs wouldn’t allow another promising season to end prematurely though and San Antonio found a way to send Dallas home in 7.

4. Houston Rockets (2)

5. Portland Trail Blazers (4)

Analysis: The Houston and Portland series was filled with interesting matchups. The most pivotal battle was sure to be in the front court between newly added Dwight Howard and rising star LaMarcus Aldridge. From the start, the series was established as a coin flip. With both teams scoring high and clicking on all cylinders, the Trailblazer’s ability to finish strong is what gave them the edge and helped them claim the series.

3. Los Angeles Clippers (4)

6. Golden State Warriors (3)

Analysis: It’s no secret that these two teams don’t like one another. In the regular season, the two teams combined for the most ejections and the most technical fouls against each other. What was thought to have been a series full of basketball headlines was surprisingly full of main office headlines. After game three of the series, Clippers owner Donald Sterling was recorded stating racist remarks towards Magic Johnson and blacks in general. Once the situation was settled and Sterling was banned for life, the Clippers came together as both a team and a city in what was too much momentum for the Warriors to handle.

2. Oklahoma City Thunder (4)

7. Memphis Grizzlies (3)

Analysis: When the Grizzlies were not in the playoffs with only two games left in the regular season, it seemed as if the team was in trouble. The Grizzlies went on to win those last two games and even beat out the Mavericks for the 7 seed in order to face the Oklahoma City Thunder. With a now healthy Russell Westbrook and the always red hot Kevin Durant, not too many people gave the Memphis a second look. However, they turned heads quickly by presenting glaring mismatches for the Thunder. In the end, the Kevin Durant and Russel Westbrook duo proved too much and the Thunder advanced in 7.

 

EAST

1. Indiana Pacers (4)

2. Atlanta Hawks (3)

Analysis: The Atlanta Hawks are the only team in the playoffs with a record under .500. Fortunately for them, they faced off against a team that finished the last 20 games of the season with a 10-10 record; The Indiana Pacers. Not only did the Hawks control the tempo of the series, but it seemed like they won every hustle play as well. It took a group effort and a showing of teamwork from the Pacers in order to pull out the series win in 7 and move on to the eastern semi-finals.

4. Chicago Bulls (1)

5. Washington Wizards (4)

Analysis: The Washington Wizards came into the playoffs on fire and their high octane offense proved to be too much for a Bulls team that is known for struggling on the offensive side of the ball. The Wizards were quicker, younger, and even more aggressive than the smash mouth Bulls throughout the whole series and it made for a quick end to the Bulls’ 2013-2014 season.

3. Toronto Raptors (3)

6. Brooklyn Nets (4)

Analysis: The Nets slipped towards the end of the season and fell from a first round matchup with the Chicago Bulls to a first round matchup with the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors turned things around after shipping off Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings in December for John Salmons, Greivis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson, and Chuck Hayes. In addition to this new roster, Demar DeRozan really burst onto the scene and Kyle Lowry created trouble for anyone guarding him. The Nets had a lot more experience after adding Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in the offseason, and it showed late in the series with the season on the line. The more experienced team usually wins, and that proved to be true in this series.

2. Miami Heat (4)

7. Charlotte Bobcats (0)

Analysis: The Miami Heat finished off the season in the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference and found themselves playing a Bobcats team that historically struggles against the Heat ever since the big three assembled in Miami. There wasn’t much to take away from the series other than the fact that the Bobcats are unable to win in the playoffs and the Heat are ready for another deep run in a weak conference.

CONFERENCE SEMI-FINALS

WEST

1. San Antonio Spurs (2)

5. Portland Trail Blazers (4)

Analysis: The Spurs have become accustomed to deep runs in the playoffs. With Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobili playing at their best, they’re one of the toughest teams to beat. The same can be said about Portland’s big three as well though. With LaMarcus Aldridge dominating the paint against Dwight Howard in the first round, Damian Lillard blossoming into a top 5 point guard, and Nicolas Batum proving to be a versatile threat from three, I see too much for the Spurs to overcome and the Trailblazers move on into the Western Conference Finals.

3. Los Angeles Clippers (4)

2. Oklahoma City Thunder (3)

Analysis: The Clippers and Thunder series will quickly become a grind it out battle. With Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Durant, it’s going to be a star studded line up. Both teams can score at ease and maintain a fast paced tempo, so expect nothing less than a high scoring game each and every time. The two teams should be neck and neck, but look for the balanced offense of Griffin and Jordan down low and Chris Paul up top to be the difference maker that will ultimately win them the series.

 

EAST

1. Indiana Pacers (4)

5. Washington Wizards (2)

Analysis: The Wizards have quickly emerged as the youthful and talented team of the future for the NBA. They’ll face their first true test against an Indiana Pacers team that looked to be the title favorite early in the season. It’s hard to tell which Pacers team will show up this series. My bet is that the first round scare against the Hawks is exactly what the Pacers needed as a wake up call. Look for the Pacers to return to playing quality basketball and move on to the next round.

 

6. Brooklyn Nets (2)

2. Miami Heat (4)

Analysis: The Miami Heat are most people’s favorites to win it all. With such an experienced and talented team, you’d think they’d be able to handle any kind of matchup. However, the Nets swept the Heat the regular season convincingly. This matchup does present problems for Miami, but they’re a whole other team in the playoffs. Look for the Nets to give the Heat a scare, but Miami is the better team and that’ll eventually show.

CONFERENCE FINALS

WEST

5. Portland Trail Blazers (4)

3. Los Angeles Clippers (3)

Analysis: The Clippers have a front court that presents problems for almost any team that they play and Chris Paul is capable of greatness every game. However, the Trailblazers have proven to be more than worthy of contending with them for a trip to the Finals. Damian Lillard is a top five point guard, Robin Lopez is a quietly having the best season in his career, and LaMarcus Aldridge is quickly becoming a superstar. In the end the red hot Trail Blazers should prove to be too much for the Clippers. It’ll be close, but Portland will get it done.

 

EAST

1. Indiana Pacers (2)

2. Miami Heat (4)

Analysis: This is basically the matchup everyone expected to see. It’s no secret that if anyone is going to dethrone the Heat in the Eastern Conference, it’s going to be the Indiana Pacers. True, Indiana has struggled as of late, but there’s nothing more motivational than playing the two time defending champs. The Pacers live for this. Expect a hard fought, smash mouth series that the Heat eventually take in 6.

NBA FINALS

5. Portland Trail Blazers (3)

2. Miami Heat (4)

Analysis: The Trail Blazers will be able to capitalize on the Heat’s weakness at the Center and Point Guard spot with LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard. They will be able to keep up the pace and stay within striking distance. However, the Heat have proved on multiple occasions that when they play to their full potential, there isn’t a team in the league that can beat them four times out of seven. This and the extra experience in the finals all adds up to a third title for the Heat since Chris Bosh and LeBron James joined Dwyane Wade in Miami.

 

NBA Champion:

2. Miami Heat

Analysis: In the end, the Miami Heat still have the best player in the world and the team has the highest potential in the league. Dwyane Wade is undoubtedly on the decline but he’s still capable of being dominate on both ends of the court. Also, Chris Bosh is quietly having his best year in a Heat jersey. In addition, they have living legend Ray Allen and multiple role players that help keep the ball rotation in sync. This will all prove to be too much for a Trail Blazers team that will be in unknown territory and the Heat will prevail and complete the three-peat.

Biggest Surprise:

1. Hawks: The Pacers limped into the playoffs this season and ran into a Hawks team who had to fight just to get into the weak Eastern Conference. Although the Pacers finished the season as the number one seed (beating out the Miami Heat by 2 games), the Hawks presented a tough matchup for them. With Hibbert placed at a virtual standstill by Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague presenting a surprisingly overwhelming mismatch with George Hill, the problems added up quickly for the Pacers and it was almost too much to handle.

2. Grizzlies: The Thunder rode an up and down season after enduring Russell Westbrook’s early injury in the season. And although the team seemed to have gotten back into their normal rotation in time for the playoffs, the Thunder struggled against a Grizzlies team powered by arguably the best front court in the playoffs and it took seven games for them to eventually close the series out.

3. Wizards: In hindsight, we really should have seen this coming. If you’re a sports fan, you probably witnessed the backcourt duo of Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright lead UConn to the National Championship. I can’t stress this enough. A strong backcourt is the key to success and the Wizards have that backcourt. They easily took advantage of the low scoring Bulls and really put themselves into the national spotlight for the first time in a long time.

Biggest Disappointments:

1. Pacers: The Indiana Pacers are one of the the most scrutinized teams in NBA history. The team started off the season red hot and openly voiced their confidence in winning the title. All this changed rather quickly as the Pacers took a sharp decline and almost found themselves in a first round upset to the Hawks. Hopefully this is a wake up call for Indiana and it’ll snap them out of the slump they’ve been in for the past month and a half.

2. Thunder: Luckily for the Thunder, the Pacer’s collapse has been in the spotlight. However, it seems like not enough people are talking about the Thunder’s collapse. Ever since Russell Westbrook returned from his injury, the Thunder just haven’t performed at an elite level. Kevin Durant is simply too good to be on a team that losses in the first round. That shouldn’t happen. It almost did though, and the Grizzlies deserve all the props in the world for it. However, as great as the Grizzlies played, the Thunder eventually closed it out and moved on to the next round. This poor play, however, can not continue in against a Clippers team that is much than the Grizzlies.

3. Rockets: The Houston Rockets are another star studded roster that fell apart in the postseason. After acquiring Jeremy Lin, James Harden, and Dwight Howard, it seemed as if the Rockets were posed for at least a second round run into the playoffs. However, the Rockets ran into a Trail Blazers team that started off the season with the best record in the NBA and it quickly became apparent that although the Rockets have improved, they still aren’t ready to contend for the title just yet.

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About The Author

Justin Martinez is a sports fan, a science hater, and the sole record holder of most time without going outside. Yup, that’s basically it.

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