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 Western Conference Semifinals Predictions

Houston Rockets vs. Utah Jazz

NBA: Houston Rockets at Utah Jazz
Photo by Jeff Swinger/USA Today

It was already going to be a tough series for the Jazz, but now it sounds like Ricky Rubio may not be able to play in this series, and that’s going to make it even tougher for Utah. I still don’t think it’s impossible that they pull off an upset, their defense is good enough to totally mess up the Rockets, it’s just that the Jazz offense may not be able to score enough points to compete.

Rockets in 6

 

Golden State Warriors vs. New Orleans Pelicans

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Photo by Michael DeMocker/NOLA.com

There are so many variables to consider with this series. Is Rondo really this good in the playoffs? How about Mirotic? Or were they just up against a bad Blazers defense? When will Steph be back? How good will he be? It’s tough to judge how either of these teams played in the last series both because of opponent and circumstance, but I think the Warriors will win it handily. Bringing Steph back may prove to be a challenge. I could actually see them only losing the first game he plays (or first game he starts) just because of the readjustment for him and for the rest of the team. The Pelicans might be for real, but I don’t think they’re beating the Warriors.

Warriors in 5

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

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

NBA Playoffs Round 2 Predictions – Western Conference

(Stats via Basketball-Reference.com)

NBA: Playoffs-San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City Thunder
Photo by Mark D. Smith/USA Today

San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder – Spurs in 6

I want to pick the Thunder to win this, so bad. The WestbrookDurant duo are so much fun to watch, and, as much as a SpursWarriors (or Spurs-Blazers?) Conference Finals should be enjoyable, watching the Thunder is just so entertaining, that I would much rather see them advance.

All that aside, this series is interesting because it’s another study in coaching talent and depth vs. superstar player talent. The Spurs obviously have incredible talent in Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge; Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli, Boris Diaw, Patty Mills, Danny Green, and David West still play at an extremely high level when needed; and, the rest of their roster can always compete. But, Kawhi is the only player on that team that (in 2016) can hold a candle to Durant and Westbrook. The problem for the Thunder is, the rest of the guys on the floor, including their coach, can be inconsistent. Serge Ibaka, usually the obvious 3rd best on the team, hasn’t been as good this year. Enes Kanter has had some great moments this season and post-season. But, he his defense is usually weak and his offense only makes up for it on his best nights. The biggest mismatch with the Spurs is the coaching. While not many coaches can compare to Gregg Popovich, Billy Donovan has really struggled adapting to the NBA, and now he’s headed to a playoff series against one of the best coaches in the league (many would argue, THE best). My hope is that Donovan can make the right adjustments and avoid 4th-quarter meltdowns, but I’m not optimistic for the Thunder.

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Photo by Noah Graham/Getty Images

Golden State Warriors vs. Portland Trail Blazers – Warriors in 5

It’s tough to say how this series goes without knowing when Stephen Curry comes back from injury and how he’ll play upon his return. That said, I think this is a great matchup for the Curry-less Warriors. Klay Thompson can be inconsistent without Steph to draw the attention of the best defenders on each team. But, the Blazers rely so much on their offense, that Klay (and others on the team) will likely do well against their weaker defense. The Blazers had such a bizarre season that it’s tough to say how good they really are. But, seeing as the Blazers were able to win one against a fully healthy Warriors in the regular season and one against a (reasonably) healthy Clippers team, I think the Blazers take at least one game in Portland, likely charged by a mega-game from CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard. But, ultimately, with Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bogut, and Shaun Livingston on the floor, the Warriors defense can do a lot to contain the Blazers most nights. The Blazers will get one, but definitely not 4, even without Curry.

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