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The Mass Media

Sports Spiel: NBA Playoff Preview

Courtesy+of+Keith+Allison+on+Flickr%0A

Courtesy of Keith Allison on Flickr

With the NBA playoffs coming up on April 20, it’s time to look at the 16 teams trying to win it all this year. The Miami Heat, who have the best record in the NBA, are the favorites to defend their title from a year ago, as LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh appear to be playing well together (when they’re all on the court, at least). In the West, the Spurs and the Thunder are fighting for the top seed. Both teams are playing spectacularly and will look to continue to do so in the playoffs. Here are the matchups for this year’s playoffs, with my predictions.

Eastern Conference:

1. Miami Heat vs. 8. Milwaukee Bucks

The Heat beat the Bucks 3 out of the 4 games this year, but the Bucks have some great offensive players like Monta Ellis, Brandon Jennings, and Ersan Ilyasova. However, the Bucks will have to play perfectly in order to beat the defending champs.

Prediction: Heat in 4 games. No one on the Bucks can guard LeBron. Then again, who in the NBA can? Look for Jennings to have some big scoring nights though.

2. New York Knicks vs. 7. Boston Celtics

The Celtics get the Knicks in this classic matchup. Even with Rajon Rondo out with a torn ACL, the Celtics (who went 1-3 against the Knicks this year) will look to use their defensive strengths to stop Carmelo Anthony and co.  

Prediction: Knicks in 6. A part of me wants to say Celtics in 7, just because they have a better coach and better defense. However, the player matchups just make it tough to take the C’s here

3. Indiana Pacers vs. 6. Atlanta Hawks

During the regular season, these two teams split the series 2-2, so this one should be close. The Pacers, who have one of the most balanced lineups in the league, rely on young star Paul George and crafty veteran David West. The Hawks look to outrun their opponent, led by star Josh Smith, one of the best shot-blockers in the game.

Prediction: Pacers in 5. The Pacers will use their balanced offense and quality defense to stop this often wild and inexperienced Hawks team.

4. Brooklyn Nets vs. 5. Chicago Bulls

The Bulls lost their star point guard, Derrick Rose, this year. However, you couldn’t tell they were without their MVP against the Nets. The Bulls went 3-1 against Brooklyn, relying on their tenacious defense led by former Celtic assistant coach, Tom Thibodeau. Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and the Nets are looking for some revenge in this year’s postseason.

Prediction: Nets in 7. This series can go either way. 3 out of the 4 games between these two have been won by 4 points or less. Deron Williams will have better luck against the Bulls this time, though.

Western Conference:

1. Oklahoma City Thunder vs. 8. Houston Rockets

Talk about crazy story lines. Early in the season, OKC traded away James Harden to the Houston Rockets. Now, Harden looks to lead his own team to a first round win and the Rockets are soaring sky high with confidence as they look to upset the top seeded Thunder.

Prediction: Thunder in 5. Kevin Durant will be his usual self and score a ton. Russell Westbrook will do the same, as no one on the Rockets can stay in front of the speedy point guard from UCLA. The Thunder are too good for this young Rockets team.

2. San Antonio Spurs vs. 7. Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers barely snuck into the playoffs after a season full of disappointments. In the final game of the season, they managed to sneak into the 7 seed. However, they are facing a almost perfectly balanced Spurs team with the best coach in the league right now. With Kobe Bryant out with an Achilles tendon tear, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol look to lead the Lakers past MVP candidate Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobili and the Spurs in another classic Western Conference matchup.

Prediction: Spurs in 6. The Laker’s lack of defensive and offensive cohesion without Kobe (or even with Kobe to be honest) will make it hard to stop the machine that is the Spurs. Being a Lakers fan, I hope I am very very wrong in this prediction…

3. Denver Nuggets vs. 6. Golden State Warriors

The Warriors have had, by their standards, a season to remember. They hope to use this momentum against this streaky Nuggets team, which won the season series 3-1. GSW’s Stephen Curry is looking to shoot his way past Andre Iguodala and the Nuggets.

Prediction: Nuggets in 7. The X-factors in this series will be Iguodala for the Nuggets and Andrew Bogut for the Warriors. With the Nuggets’ superior defense, they will hold on for the win at the end.

4. Los Angeles Clippers vs. 5. Memphis Grizzlies

One of the most entertaining teams to watch, the Clippers (AKA Lob City) depend on their dynamic duo in Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. The Grizzlies are another well-balanced team looking to ride their momentum into the playoffs. The Clippers lead the series 2-1 with one more game late in the season.

Prediction: Clippers in 6. CP3 will dominate as usual. The Grizzlies will make it tough, as they always do. But per usual, they will not advance to the second round.