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

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Unsolicited picks for 2017-2018 NBA Awards

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Photo by Ken Blaze/USA Today

Most Valuable Player

1. LeBron James
2. Anthony Davis
3. James Harden
4. Giannis Antetokounmpo
5. Damian Lillard

Defensive Player of the Year

1. Rudy Gobert
2. Joel Embiid
3. Anthony Davis

Rookie of the Year

1. Ben Simmons
2. Donovan Mitchell
3. Jayson Tatum

Coach of the Year

1. Dwane Casey
2. Quin Snyder
3. Nate McMillan

Executive of the Year

1. Danny Ainge
2. Daryl Morey
3. Dennis Lindsey

Sixth Man of the Year

1. Lou Williams
2. Will Barton
3. Fred VanVleet

Most Improved Player

1. Victor Oladipo
2. Jaylen Brown
3. Dario Saric

Team Awards

All-NBA First Team

G – Damian Lillard
G – James Harden
F – LeBron James
F – Giannis Antetokounmpo
C – Anthony Davis

All-NBA Second Team

G –  Stephen Curry
G – Chris Paul
F – LaMarcus Aldridge
F – Kevin Durant
C – Joel Embiid

All-NBA Third Team

G –  Victor Oladipo
G – Russell Westbrook
F – Paul George
F – Al Horford
C – Rudy Gobert

All-Defense First Team

G –  Chris Paul
G – Victor Oladipo
F – Anthony Davis
F – Robert Covington
C – Rudy Gobert

All-Defense Second Team

G –  Jrue Holiday
G – Ben Simmons
F – Jimmy Butler
F – Draymond Green
C – Joel Embiid

All-Rookie First Team

Ben Simmons
Donovan Mitchell
Jayson Tatum
Lauri Markkanen
Dennis Smith Jr.

All-Rookie Second Team

John Collins
Bogdon Bogdonavich
Lonzo Ball
Kyle Kuzma
De’Aaron Fox

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

TBB’s Unsolicited NBA Awards

(photo by Soobum Im/USA Today Sports)

Please note: These are opinions, not predictions.

Individual Awards

Most Valuable Player

1. Stephen Curry – Golden State Warriors
2. LeBron James – Cleveland Cavaliers
3. Kawhi Leonard – San Antonio Spurs
4. Kevin Durant – Oklahoma City Thunder
5. Draymond Green – Golden State Warriors

Defensive Player of the Year

1. Kawhi Leonard – San Antonio Spurs
2. Draymond Green – Golden State Warriors
3. Paul Millsap – Atlanta Hawks

Rookie of the Year

1. Karl-Anthony Towns – Minnesota Timberwolves
2. Nikola Jokic – Denver Nuggets
3. Kristaps Porzingis – New York Knicks

Coach of the Year

1. David Joerger – Memphis Grizzlies
2. Steve Kerr – Golden State Warriors
3. Terry Stotts – Portland Trail Blazers

Executive of the Year

1. Neil Olshey – Portland Trail Blazers
2. Chris Wallace – Memphis Grizzlies
3. Masai Ujiri – Toronto Raptors

Sixth Man of the Year

1. Andre Iguodala – Golden State Warriors
2. Will Barton – Denver Nuggets
3. Jamal Crawford – Los Angeles Clippers

Most Improved Player

1. Kemba Walker – Charlotte Hornets
2. C.J. McCollum – Portland Trail Blazers
3. Draymond Green – Golden State Warriors

Team Awards

All-NBA First Team

G – Stephen Curry – Golden State Warriors
G – Chris Paul – Los Angeles Clippers
F – LeBron James – Cleveland Cavaliers
F – Kawhi Leonard – San Antonio Spurs
C – Anthony Davis – New Orleans Pelicans

All-NBA Second Team

G –  Russell Westbrook – Oklahoma City Thunder
G – Damian Lillard – Portland Trail Blazers
F – Draymond Green – Golden State Warriors
F – Kevin Durant – Oklahoma City Thunder
C – Andre Drummond – Detroit Pistons

All-NBA Third Team

G –  Klay Thompson – Golden State Warriors
G – Kyle Lowry – Toronto Raptors
F – Paul Millsap – Atlanta Hawks
F – Paul George – Indiana Pacers
C – Karl-Anthony Towns – Minnesota Timberwolves

All-Defense First Team

G –  Jimmy Butler – Chicago Bulls
G – Chris Paul – Los Angeles Clippers
F – Kawhi Leonard – San Antonio Spurs
F – Draymond Green – Golden State Warriors
C – Rudy Gobert – Utah Jazz

All-Defense Second Team

G –  Klay Thompson – Golden State Warriors
G – Danny Green – San Antonio Spurs
F – Paul Millsap – Atlanta Hawks
F – Tim Duncan – San Antonio Spurs
C – Al Horford – Atlanta Hawks

All-Rookie First Team

Karl-Anthony Towns – Minnesota Timberwolves
Nikola Jokic – Denver Nuggets
Kristaps Porzingis – New York Knicks
Justise Winslow – Miami Heat
Emmanuel Mudiay – Denver Nuggets

All-Rookie Second Team

Devin Booker – Phoenix Suns
Frank Kaminsky III – Charlotte Hornets
D’Angelo Russell – Los Angeles Lakers
Myles Turner – Indiana Pacers
Trey Lyles – Utah Jazz

Unsolicited 2016 NBA All-Star Reserve Recommendations

If you’re unfamiliar with the current way the NBA All-star teams are decided, here’s a rundown:

-The two teams are organized by Conference

-Each Conference gets 12 roster spots

-The 5 starting players on each team are decided by fan vote.

-Fans vote in 3 “forwards” and 2″guards” for each starting team.

-The 7 reserve players on each team are decided by NBA coaches.

Starters

So, first things first, the 2016 fan-voted NBA All-star starters are:

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From NBA.com

Western Conference

Guards: Stephen Curry (GSW) and Russell Westbrook (OKC)

Forwards: Kobe Bryant (LAL), Kevin Durant (OKC), and Kawhi Leonard (SAS)

Eastern Conference

Guards: Kyle Lowry (TOR) and Dwyane Wade (MIA)

Forwards: LeBron James (CLE), Paul George (IND), and Carmelo Anthony (NYK)

 

I won’t get into who “deserves” to be an All-Star. I get that it’s a fan vote. These rosters are weird and for as many teams seem to be moving into “position-less” basketball, these rosters are just kind of bizarre. Kobe as a “forward” makes little sense. But, to be fair, Kerr started 3 guards last year with Klay Thompson, James Harden, and Stephen Curry in the game last year.

 

But, enough about the starters. Here are:

The Bonus Beat’s picks for

2016 NBA All-Star Reserves

 

Western Conference

Mike Conley

DeMarcus Cousins

Anthony Davis

Draymond Green

Damian Lillard

Chris Paul

Klay Thompson

Eastern Conference

Chris Bosh

Jimmy Butler

DeMar DeRozan

Andre Drummond

Paul Millsap

Kemba Walker

John Wall