2018 NBA Finals Prediction

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS VS. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS
Photo by Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group

There are so many variables that will at least affect the margin of victory and number of games (possibly the winner) of this series, Kevin Love’s injury, Andre Iguodala’s injury, Steph Curry’s injury, Kerr’s and Lue’s rotation decisions. But the most important thing is really how engaged the Warriors are. If they play 100% in each quarter of each game, this SHOULD be a sweep. But, every slow start could lead to a loss if the Cavs take advantage of those. My guess is that there will be a couple games where the Warriors play with fire and the Cavs will take at least one of those (and even if the Warriors don’t take a game off, I can see LBJ putting everything he has left into ensuring they win at least one, even if he’s dead-tired for the rest of the series).

Warriors in 5

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NBA Conference Finals Predictions

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Photo by Ken Blaze/USA Today

Eastern Conference

Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

I’m gonna take a detour. It’s pretty cool for the Celtics that they’ve been able to get this far without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. That might speak to how weak the Eastern Conference is, but still, great for them. That being said, I’m actually pretty bummed that the Bucks fired Jason Kidd now. I don’t think Kidd was an unbelievable coach or anything, but he was better than Joe Prunty, and considering that the Bucks took the Celtics to 7, I wonder if with halfway decent coaching, they might’ve been here in the Conference Finals and we’d get to see Giannis and LeBron in this series.

Alright, about the actual series: all I can say is that I don’t think the Celtics will get swept. The Cavs are doing their thing and crushing these weaker Eastern Conference teams. It helps that the Celtics, much like the Pacers, seem like a team that doesn’t get rattled easily. The Cavs will win and will win convincingly, but I don’t think it’ll be a humiliating sweep.

Cavs in 5

 

Western Conference

Houston Rockets vs. Golden State Warriors

Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

I’m probably a little too confident for the Warriors, but I really feel like this might be similar to the last two Raptors/Cavs series. The Rockets had a great regular season, Chris Paul has had some great playoff games. Harden hasn’t looked great when things get tight. On the other hand, we don’t really know how well Curry’s knee is, so he may be more limited than we know. Either way, I don’t see the Rockets winning more than one, if the Warriors do their usual thing where the take their foot off the gas in Game 3 or 4. But, considering the fact that they’ll be playing Games 3 and 4 on the road, I think they’ll be ready to play.

Warriors in 4

 

NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals Predictions

Toronto Raptors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

Cleveland Cavaliers v Toronto Raptors - Game Three
Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

The Cavaliers do not look invincible to the rest of the Eastern Conference like they have the past few years. The thing is, they certainly seem invincible to the Toronto Raptors. Despite the fact that the Raptors were the best regular season team in the Eastern Conference, they seem to be more scared of the Cavs than any other Eastern Conference team. Logically, the Raptors should win this easily, but I just can’t trust them to do it.

Cavs in 6

 

Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers

NBA: Boston Celtics at Philadelphia 76ers
Photo by Bill Streicher/USA Today

There’s almost no question that the 76ers win this series. They’re young and inexperienced, but they have too much talent and the players still standing on the Celtics really don’t have much of an experience advantage in their current state. I’ve been skeptical of Brad Stevens being THAT much better than most other coaches, but he’s clearly proven that he’s a difference maker for this Celtics team. I think the Celtics can take a game when the 76ers get too comfortable and let off the gas. But, unless the 76ers lose their two best players to injury, this won’t be much of a series.

76ers in 5

NBA Playoffs 2018 – Round 1 Predictions

Eastern Conference

 

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Photo by Nick Turchiaro/USA Today

Toronto Raptors (1) vs. Washington Wizards (8)

The Raptors might lose game 1, they might lose the series. But, despite the fact that I originally predicted the Wizards could be the best team in the East (before the season started), I think the Raptors have proven they can beat ALMOST anybody, and I think they’ll at least be confident in this first round. The Wizards are good enough to win a couple, and should make it a competitive series, but the Raptors should win this one.

Raptors in 6

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics
Photo by Bob DiChiara/USA Today

Boston Celtics (2) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (7)

The Celtics have a lot of injuries to deal with, and I’m not one of these people that worships at the church of Brad Stevens. But, after seeing how they won the series against the Bulls and Wizards last year (with a much different roster), I think they’ll be able to beat a team at a serious coaching disadvantage, even if that team has the best player on the floor in Giannis Antetokounmpo. This could be the year the Bucks get past the first round, but I think the Celtics will grind through it.

Celtics in 7

Ben Simmons, James Johnson, Goran Dragic
Photo by Lynne Sladkey/AP

Philadelphia 76ers (3) vs. Miami Heat (6)

The 6ers are clearly the more talented team, but inexperience will cause them to drop a few games they should win. I anticipate at least one vintage Dwyane Wade game and an inexplicable Kelly Olynyk game. I also think Spoelstra will out-coach Brett Brown (who I also think has done a fantastic job this year). If Embiid comes back, the 6ers might pull it off, but despite the fact that the 76ers have the clearly superior roster, it will be tough to be so dependent Ben Simmons and his poor shooting (again, despite the fact that he’s unbelievable in just about every other facet of the game). Embiid is the wildcard here, but I trust the Heat to pull this off.

Heat in 7

 

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Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Cleveland Cavaliers (4) vs. Indiana Pacers (5)

We’ve seen this before. The Pacers had an awesome season and won twice as many games as most expected. But LeBron James is here to annihilate the Eastern Conference again and the Pacers will be his first victim.

Cavs in 4

Western Conference

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Photo by Andy Clayton-King/AP

Houston Rockets (1) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (8)

The Rockets were clearly the better regular season team, but if Jimmy Butler can handle the minutes Thibs will give him and KAT and Wiggins aren’t afraid of the moment, I think they’ll at least put up a fight. The Rockets shouldn’t lose this one, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

Rockets in 6

 

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Photo by Ben Margot/AP

Golden State Warriors (2) vs. San Antonio Spurs (7)

They might come out stale in Game 1 or Game 3. I expect them to drop one, but ultimately, I don’t really think the Spurs even want to be there. They might want to win one for Pop, or win one for Aldridge, but that might be it.

Warriors in 5

 

Portland Trail Blazers (3) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (6)

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Photo by Layne Murdoch/Getty Images

The Pelicans will have the most talented player on the floor, and that counts for a lot. But Dame and CJ have won playoff games and Davis hasn’t, that might count for a lot too. Nurkic is the big wild card in this series. If he’s awesome, the Blazers should have a good chance of winning; and the same could be said fo Amini. But, the Blazers might be in trouble if they’re fully dependent on their backcourt.

Blazers in 6

 

Oklahoma City Thunder (4) vs. Utah Jazz (5)

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Photo by Sue Ogrocki

The Jazz are an unbelievable story this year and it’s been awesome to watch. The Jazz have the better coach (I know, I know, but for the NBA), but the Thunder definitely have the two most talented players in Westbrook and Paul George. Rudy Gobert is awesome, Donovan Mitchell has been unbelievable, Ricky Rubio and Joe Ingles have been great too. But, I don’t know if that’s enough against Paul George, Russell Westbrook, Steven Adams, and whatever Melo has left. I think the Jazz could definitely win, but the Thunder should.

Thunder in 6

NBA 2017-2018 Regular Season Predictions

Full Standings

17-18

 

Western Conference

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1. Golden State Warriors – 70-12

They probably won’t have the same slow-ish start that they did last year, and if there’s no long-time Durant injury, 70 actually seems reasonable, even with rest at the end of the season.

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2. Oklahoma City Thunder – 58-24

They might have a slow start, but this team could be great, and likely would be a championship contender under almost any other circumstance. It could also totally fall apart because their three best players need the ball a lot. But, all of these guys have played with other great players and I think this will work out.

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3. Houston Rockets – 55-27

Similar to the Thunder, the Rockets might need some time to get their game worked out, but should be great. The “one ball” thing, as much as it’s really just a joke, may apply to this team more than the Thunder. CP3 is certainly better than Dwight, but we have seen what happens when Harden tries to run the offense and someone else needs the ball. I think they’ll win a lot of games because they have to with this talent, but I’m not sold on them as a potential threat to the Warriors even as much as I barely am with the Thunder.

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4. San Antonio Spurs – 52-30

I don’t know how, but the Spurs will figure out a way to get 50+ wins. Kawhi will be great. Maybe LaMarcus Aldridge will snap out of it. Rudy Gay will probably be decent. I can’t expect Manu, Tony, and Pau to do much, but they’ll help win a few along the way.

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5. Utah Jazz – 46-36

I’m not saying anything totally controversial when I say that the Jazz haven’t lost their best player, because that’s Rudy Gobert. That’s not to say that Gordon Hayward isn’t a great player and they won’t take a step back without him. But, their identity is defensive, and Gobert is a top 3 defensive player in the league. They should be in the playoffs again.

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6. New Orleans Pelicans – 45-37

We can’t take much from the few games Anthony Davis and Boogie actually got to play together. But, I realize this is a big if, IF those two and Jrue Holiday can stay on the court, they’ll be a mid-40 win team, at least.

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7. Portland Trailblazers 43-39

I’m guessing the Blazers have a funky start and some time after Christmas have an unbelievable run to put themselves back in the playoff race. Just seems to be their thing.

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8. Minnesota Timberwolves – 41-41

I keep mentioning rough starts because we have so many teams without real continuity. The Wolves are no exception. They’ve added some great players, but I don’t think it all works out so quick. Hopefully it will in time to get this team out of the lottery.

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9. Denver Nuggets 39-43

This could totally be a breakout year, and I honestly hope it is. But, I worry this is another “almost” year. I think Mike Malone is a great coach, but there’s always something weird going on, whether it’s with Nurkic, Faried, or whoever. I just think that kind of dysfunction derails another season with potential.

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10. Los Angeles Clippers – 38-44

Blake Griffin is still pretty good. But, he’s going to miss time this season. Probably a couple different stretches, and this time, Chris Paul won’t be there to hold the team together. If DeAndre, Blake, and Patrick Beverley stay healthy for 82 games, they have a shot at mid to high 40’s wins, but, I think high 30’s is more likely with the injury history.

 

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11. Dallas Mavericks – 36-46

I know Mark Cuban has said the Mavs might tank seasons in the past, but I just don’t believe Rick Carlisle and Dirk are capable of doing that. They’ll be a mediocre team and it’ll be too bad because it could very well be Dirk’s last season.

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12. Los Angeles Lakers – 33-49

They’re not making the playoffs, but if they’re not actively trying to lose, this team will be decent and actually entertaining. It’s a tough league for young guys so their core will make mistakes that cost them games, but it won’t be a recurring nightmare to watch.

 

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13. Memphis Grizzlies – 30-52

It’s going to be rough to see this team lose a lot more than we’ve become accustomed do over the last few years. But I don’t see many of their guys being able to stay on the court much. Conley and Gasol will have nights where they find a way to beat the best teams in the league, and those will certainly be fun. But, unfortunately, those won’t be the norm.

 

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14. Sacramento Kings – 28-54

This team should be fun to watch. No expectations, a good mix of solid young talent and great vets.

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15. Phoenix Suns – 25-57

I feel like this team SHOULD improve, but for some reason I think they’ve got at least another season at the bottom before their breakout. Booker will put together a few great games though.

Eastern Conference

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1. Washington Wizards – 56-26

Continuity definitely matters in the regular season. This team has that more than any of the other top Eastern Conference teams. I don’t know if that means they’re a real challenger to the Cavs in the post-season, but it’ll definitely give them a head start in the regular season.

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2. Cleveland Cavaliers – 54-28

Their regular season was truly bizarre last year. This will be another slow start team because they have so many additions and Isaiah Thomas won’t be back until Christmas or later. But, it might be easier to click without Kyrie and this team should run through a terrible Eastern Conference.

 

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3. Boston Celtics – 52-30

They have the talent of a 60+ win team, but it’ll take some time to make it work. They’ve got a great coach, so it might not take long at all though.

 

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4. Toronto Raptors – 49-33

The Raptors can be one of the most confusing teams in the NBA. But they usually do well in the regular season. They may end up a top 3 seed, but it’s hard to predict that with the talent on the Wizards’, Celtics’, and Cavs’ rosters.

 

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5. Miami Heat – 47-35

 They had a terrible start last year but ended the season 30-11. I don’t think they’ll be a 60 win team this year, but they’ll be decent team in a terrible Eastern Conference.

 

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6. Milwaukee Bucks – 46-36

 I feel like this team should make a leap to a top 4 seed, but it feels like, despite their talent, it’s been such a slow process. An injury to one of the top 5 teams may boost the Bucks, but I think they’re headed for another 6th seed.

 

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7. Charlotte Hornets – 40-42

 They had a chance to be a mid-40’s team. Without Batum, they might barely win 40. In the Eastern Conference, that will still get you a 7th seed.

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8. Detroit Pistons – 38-44

 They lost KCP, who knows if Andre Drummond will finish the season there. They did add Avery Bradley. I think they’ll be bad but not terrible, again.

 

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9. Philadelphia 76ers – 36-46

 This is more a prediction about how long it takes for this team to click, and then how long Embiid stays on the court. If it takes them 20 games to find their footing and then Embiid only plays 50, they have 30 games as a great cohesive unit. They win a lot of those, lose some. They win a few on either side of that, you’re looking at mid-30’s wins.

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10. New York Knicks – 35-47

 Time to see if Kristaps can start to flourish on his own. Kanter will help them offensively, Michael Beasley might too. Considering how many bad teams there are in the East, and that getting the Phil-Melo drama out might be great for morale, this team might do fine. They still won’t make the playoffs, but it’ll be less depressing.

 

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11. Brooklyn Nets – 34-48

It’s another season with no reason to tank and D’Angelo Russell might be good. I think mid-30’s is totally possible.

 

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12. Atlanta Hawks – 32-50

 Hard to know where everything went wrong, but Kent Bazemore might be their best player (don’t get me wrong, I love Baze). I don’t know if this team can bottom out on purpose, but they definitely won’t be good.

 

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13. Indiana Pacers – 29-53

 Another team with no expectations and decent young talent. I think Victor Oladipo and Myles Turner will be pretty good. But the lack of outside shooting will make it tough to win many games.

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14. Orlando Magic – 24-58

 It’s depressing that this team just can’t climb out of the lottery, but they might just try to bottom out this year and make another go at a top pick while they still can. I will be delighted to watch Maureese Speights on this team either way.

 

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15. Chicago Bulls – 19-63

With Jimmy gone, I think management finally understands that this team is rebuilding. Maybe. Even though they’re trading picks for cash. But, even if they don’t, this team is going to be rough. I like Justin Holiday. I’m rooting for David Nwaba. Robin Lopez is still pretty good. I don’t know what else to say.

2017 NBA Finals Prediction

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Photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

I don’t think there’s a single outcome that would really surprise me in this Finals. Warriors could sweep, Cavs could win in 6, and anything in between seems plausible. Things would have to really go the Cavs way again for them to pull this off, but it’s certainly possible. Two key Warriors would have to sustain an injuries that limited their play, another would have to be suspended (possibly based on fouls being retroactively upgraded to flagrants between games), another would have to go through an unbelievable cold streak, forcing rotations to go seriously out of whack in a Game 7. But that all happened last year.

One thing that would surprise me would be another suspension to a key contributor on either team. The NBA doesn’t totally shy away from things that fuel conspiracy theories, but it would be an unbelievably bad look to have that potentially determine the Finals two years in a row.

Unless things align in a way that is truly awful for the Warriors, I think they win this one convincingly, but LeBron James singlehandedly saves the team from total embarrassment by winning one or two on his own.

Warriors in 5

NBA Playoffs – Eastern Conference Finals Prediction

Isaiah Thomas, LeBron James
Photo by Mark Duncan/Associated Press

Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavs are on a mission and I don’t think they slow down and drop a couple like they did in Toronto last year. The Celtics are a good team, but I have a feeling they’ll get steamrolled 4 times in a row. Isaiah Thomas might just pull one out, but I’d be very surprised.

Cavs in 4

NBA Playoffs – Eastern Conference Semifinals Predictions

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Photo by Greg M. Cooper/USA Today

Boston Celtics vs. Washington Wizards

The Celtics seemed to have found their groove after stumbling through the first couple games against the Bulls. It’s hard to know if they dropped those first two games because of the circumstances Isaiah Thomas was in or if the Bulls won those games because of Rondo’s play. It feels like the Wizards are the better team, but their struggles against the Hawks make them look more vulnerable and their bench is dismal. Despite their bench, I still think the Wizards are the better team and will pull this one off.

Wizards in 6

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Photo by David Liam Kyle/Getty Images

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Toronto Raptors

The Raptors seemed like they might be better this year than they were last year, and the Cavs seemed like they were worse this year (especially on defense) than they were last year. But despite each game being close, the Cavs still swept the Pacers and the Raptors struggled against the Bucks. It’s certainly possible that the Raptors could beat the Cavs 4 times in a 7-game series. But, the Raptors just seem to tighten and lose games and the Cavs tend to find a way to win, even when it looks like they’ve given a lead away. My guess is the Raptors find a way to win a couple, but the Cavs will definitely take the series.

Cavaliers in 6

NBA Playoff Predictions – Round 1

Eastern Conference

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Boston Celtics
Photo by David Butler II/USA Today

Boston Celtics vs. Chicago Bulls

I think the Celtics will struggle out of the gate. They’ve had poor playoff showings, and the Bulls can be good with enough rest, which the first round provides. I do think they eventually pull it off because they’re definitely the better team. But, I wouldn’t be totally surprised if the Bulls pull off the upset.

Celtics in 7

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Photo by Brian Spurlock/USA Today

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Indian Pacers

It’s that time of year, LeBron will go supernova and make everyone feel silly for doubting they could turn it up in the playoffs. This might end up being a sweep, but I think Paul George wills his team to win at least one at home.

Cavaliers in 5

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Photo by Jeff Hanisch/USA Today

Toronto Raptors vs. Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks are great, and just having Giannis Antetokounmpo means they have a chance to win every game. In fact, the Bucks winning the series is totally plausible. But, I think the Raptors getting deep into the playoffs last year puts them in a better space and will give them the mental edge they’ll need to win a tough series.

Raptors in 7

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Photo by Alex Brandon/Associated Press

Washington Wizards vs. Atlanta Hawks

It’s tough to trust either of these teams in a playoff series, but I think the Wizards have shown they’re the more consistent of these two. John Wall and Bradley Beal have been incredible this year and the Hawks have had great flashes, but I don’t think they can win four against this Wizards team.

Wizards in 5

 

Western Conference

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Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Golden State Warriors vs. Portland Trailblazers

The Blazers kept the series somewhat competitive last year, and I think it’s possible they might’ve won one in Portland if Jusuf Nurkic was healthy, but without him, the Warriors biggest weakness isn’t much of a weakness at all against this Blazers team. The Blazers might get hot at the same time the Warriors go cold, but I wouldn’t count on it.

Warriors in 4

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Photo by Antonio Morano

San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies

The Spurs and Grizzlies split the regular season series 2-2 this year. The Spurs are definitely the better team, but I think the mostly-healthy Grizzlies will make it a competitive series this year.

Spurs in 6

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Photo by Nate Billings/The Oklahoman

Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

The Rockets are the better team, but the “clutch” stats are where the Thunder have a major edge. Also, a lot of Harden’s game is getting to the line for fouls that get called less often during the playoffs. The Rockets could end up blowing out the Thunder and sweeping, but I think the Thunder take this series.

Thunder in 6

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Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA Today

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Utah Jazz

I so badly want to pick the Jazz, but they seem to beat up on bad teams and rarely beat good teams. The Clippers can always find a way to blow it, but I think they’ll wait till the 2nd round to do that. I just hope the Jazz put up a fight.

Clippers in 6

NFL Conference Championship Predictions

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Photo by Kevin Cox/Getty Images

Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons

Sunday January 22 at 12:05pm PST

Logically, the Falcons should win. They’re the better team overall on offense and defense than the Packers. The problem is, they’re the Falcons. Despite the fact that the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Cubs have broken curses this year, I wouldn’t put my money on the Falcons overcoming a curse AND beating Aaron Rodgers. The Falcons have the talent to win, but I just can’t bring myself to pick them.

Prediction: Packers win

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Photo by Stew Milne/USA Today

Pittsburgh Steelers @ New England Patriots

Sunday January 22 at 3:40pm PST

Neither the Patriots nor the Steelers looked great last year. The Patriots had trouble against the terrible Texans, but the Steelers couldn’t even score a touchdown. On the other hand, this week both teams will facing worse defenses, but much better offenses. My guess is it will be a close one, but I’m more confident in the Patriots. Ben Roethlisberger can be inconsistent and a decent portion of the Steelers’ roster might have the flu. The Steelers certainly have a chance to win, but the Patriots seem like the more likely AFC Champion.

Prediction: Patriots win