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 Playoffs – Western Conference Semifinals Predictions

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Photo by Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

Golden State Warriors vs. Utah Jazz

It’s weird that the Jazz lost two at home in the last series and still managed to win.  They had to win Game 1 in LA after Rudy Gobert went down in the opening seconds and then Game 7 with Gobert in foul trouble (he played only 13 minutes). But, they lost 2 games at home, one of which Blake Griffin didn’t play at all, and the other being the game he went down in. But, while playing in their arena might not be a huge advantage to the Jazz, they’re certainly mentally tough enough to step up to a challenge and won’t be scared, even when the Warriors go on big runs. The talent gap is too wide for the Jazz to have any real shot at the series, but I won’t be surprised if they’re able to take one, which is more than I could have said for the Clippers.

Warriors in 5

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Photo by Darren Abate/Associated Press

San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets

There are so many X factors in this series, it’s hard to say how the Rockets as a team will shoot, how James Harden, specifically will play after not being great in the last series against the Thunder, despite beating them in 5. On the Spurs, Kawhi Leonard has been the only reliably great player so far. Tony Parker has had flashes of his previous greatness and LaMarcus Aldridge has been good at times. I think Kawhi Leonard has another great series the Spurs dominate Rockets unless Harden comes back into his early-mid season form.

Spurs in 5

TBB’s Unsolicited NBA 2016-2017 Regular Season Awards

 

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Photo by Mark Duncan/Associated Press

(These are opinions, not predictions)

Most Valuable Player

1. LeBron James
2. Russell Westbrook
3. Kawhi Leonard
4. James Harden
5. John Wall

Defensive Player of the Year

1. Draymond Green
2. Rudy Gobert
3. Kawhi Leonard

Rookie of the Year

1. Malcolm Brogdon
2. Dario Saric
3. Jaylen Brown

Coach of the Year

1. Erik Spoelstra
2. Gregg Popovich
3. Scott Brooks

Executive of the Year

1. Masai Ujiri
2. Neil Olshey
3. Dennis Lindsey

Sixth Man of the Year

1. Andre Iguodala
2. Zach Randolph
3. Eric Gordon

Most Improved Player

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo
2. Nikola Jokic
3. Dion Waiters

Team Awards

All-NBA First Team

G – Russell Westbrook
G – James Harden
F – LeBron James
F – Kawhi Leonard
C – Rudy Gobert

All-NBA Second Team

G –  Stephen Curry
G – John Wall
F – Giannis Antetokounmpo
F – Kevin Durant
C – Marc Gasol

All-NBA Third Team

G –  Isaiah Thomas
G – Kyle Lowry
F – Draymond Green
F – Anthony Davis
C – DeAndre Jordan

All-Defense First Team

G –  John Wall
G – Chris Paul
F – Kawhi Leonard
F – Draymond Green
C – Rudy Gobert

All-Defense Second Team

G –  Klay Thompson
G – Avery Bradley
F – Jimmy Butler
F – Kevin Durant
C – Marc Gasol

All-Rookie First Team

Malcolm Brogdon
Dario Saric
Joel Embiid
Jaylen Brown
Patrick McCaw

All-Rookie Second Team

Thon Maker
Domantas Sabonis
Taurean Prince
Buddy Hield
Marquese Chriss

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