2018 NBA Playoff Predictions
The NBA Playoffs are officially underway and they’re already full of ups and downs. From Kawhi Leonard quitting on his team to the Khris Middleton buzzer beater to send the Celtics and Bucks into overtime, it has been proven that this year will be one of the best years the NBA playoffs has ever had. The competition is intense in both conferences, rookies such as Ben Simmons, Jayson Tatum, and Donovan Mitchell have been holding their own, and of course surprises have occured. Just a quick note: my predictions were made before the playoffs officially began, and have not been altered or changed in anyway in response to their first game or two of the first round.
So let’s start off with the Western Conference. Right off the bat if have the Rockets taking down the Timberwolves in 4. Chris Paul and his MVP calibur counterpart, James Harden, have been too deadly of a combo this season and don’t expect that to change this postseason. Next is the Thunder and the Jazz. The Thunder have performed in a very underwhelming matter this whole season, and to many fans they’ve been this season’s biggest disappointment. However, Russell Westbrook is another monster in the playoffs and he should lead the way against the Jazz in a tough 7 game series; Thunder in 7. Portland and New Orleans is kind of a toss-up in my opinion. Both teams are equally impressive and the 3-8 seeds in the West are all very alike in competitive nature as it took until the end of the season to determine who has what seed. Anthony Davis has been shining this season and I expect him along with Jrue Holiday to beat the Pelicans in 6. And lastly, there’s Golden State against the Spurs. If this was a year ago, this would without a doubt be a gritty, 7 game series. However, things change in a year and injuries occur. The Warriors are still an offensively “OP” team and I expect them to take down the Spurs in 5.
Now we have the Eastern Conference. Toronto will quickly eliminate the inconsistent Wizards in 4 games. It’s not even debatable. Then there’s the Cavs and Pacers. This always seems to be an exciting series whenever they play in the postseason. The Cavs without Kyrie have declined in a major fashion, and don’t be surprised if they don’t make it as far as most think they will. Oladipo has dramatically improved this past year, but that just won’t be enough to take down Cleveland; Cavs in 6. Next is the Sixers and the Heat. The Heat have been very inconsistent this past season, and even though the Sixers are fuelled by their exceptional young talent (who have little to no playoff experience), I still see the Sixers taking down the Heat in a fairly quick fashion. 5 games to be exact. And last but not least my favorite team, the Boston Celtics, take on the Bucks. Plagued by injuries from the start to the end of the season, the Celtics are at a major disadvantage without Kyrie, Hayward, and Smart. However, they have some of the best depth coming off the bench in the league and Giannis should stand no chance considering he is the whole Bucks’ team. The Celtics take this series fairly easily too, 4 games to 1.
This round is where things get interesting. In the west, the Rockets will be playing the Thunder and the Warriors take on the Pelicans. I think the Rockets will breeze through this series a lot easier than the series against the Timberwolves. However, I do think Russell will pull a clutch move that steals one game away from the Rockets. Rockets move on in 5. The Warriors have a bit more competition this round with the Pelicans. Anthony Davis is a beast all around the court and the Warriors honestly don’t have somebody who’s skilled enough to contain him. That doesn’t change the fact that the Warriors are the Warriors and their array of three pointers will save them. Warriors win in 6.
In the East things get very heated, very quickly as I expect both series to go to 7 games. First we’ll start with the Cavs and the Raptors. We all can come to the consensus that LeBron is the best player right now in the playoffs. The problem is, however, that he has no supporting cast. The Raptors have DeRozan and Lowry, and although individually they aren’t as good as LeBron, them two alone can annihilate the rest of the Cavs’ roster. I think the Raptors take this series. The Celtics and Sixers are the best two young teams in the league right now which makes this series in particular all the more interesting. The Sixers have the firepower of Embiid (if he comes back), Fultz, and Simmons, and while that sounds like enough to take out any young team, the Celtics depth on the bench outmatches the Sixers’ bench by a lot. For that reason I give the edge to the Celtics in this 7 game series.
The last 4 teams that I think will be remaining are the Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Boston Celtics. I think both series will be fairly competitive, with one of them making it to 7 games. To keep this brief, I think the Rockets end the Warriors’ dominant run this year, and the Celtics take out the Cavs to represent the Eastern Conference in this year’s Finals in 6 games (maybe less if Gordon Hayward returns).
Although most of this bracket has had competitive series, I feel like the championship won’t be as entertaining. The Rockets have been on fire all year and I honestly don’t see that changing at all this postseason. I think the Celtics may be able to steal away a game or two, just because of how gritty they are in the 2nd half and their ability to chip away at large deficits. The Rockets will be crowned league champs this year in a 4-2 series. I do think, however, the Celtics will take the ‘chip next year when they have a fully healthy roster, just because they were so unstoppable this year without everybody at 100%. With Brown and Tatum developing at the rate they’re going at and Kyrie and Hayward at full health, this Celtics team will most likely lead the new generation of the NBA for years to come.