We are already in the 2nd round of playoff basketball (two games were yesterday, and I was unable to get this posted before the Thunder/Grizzlies game tipped off.
1) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. 5) Memphis Grizzlies- First off, I was off on my prediction on the Clippers/Grizzlies matchup. With Griffin limited due to an ankle injury, the Clippers didn’t have an answer to Memphis in game 5, which costed them the series. And now that the Thunder’s Russel Westbrook is out with a knee injury, the Thunder will struggle for the rest of the postseason. And it was very apparent yesterday when OKC was down by 9 at the end of the 3rd quarter. It took the heroics and clutch shooting of Kevin Durant to elevate the Thunder to a game 1 win. The questions that will be answered during this series are: Can the Thunder continue to rely on Durant to dig them out of a jam like yesterday? Who else from the Thunder roster will step up besides Kevin Martin? Will the Grizzlies’ Tayshaun Prince be able to limit Durant in both scoring and passing the ball around? Can the big man duo of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph create matchup problems for the Thunder on both sides of the court?
This series can go either way because of Russel Westbrook out of the lineup, and it could go 7 games but I think the Thunder will pull it out.
Thunder in 6-7 games.
2) San Antonio Spurs vs. 6) Golden State Warriors- With game 1 tonight, all eyes are on the Spurs to see if they’re well rested since their sweep of the Lakers in the 1st round or if they’ll be a bit rusty. The match up, I think, everyone is looking forward to is the point guard match up between Tony Parker and Stephen Curry. Both guards are quick and are great when it comes to passing the ball around as well as being great scorers. Both coaches, Marc Jackson and Gregg Popovich, have done an exceptional job in getting their teams to this point and can make adjustments to help win playoff games. I want to see what kind of adjustments and tweaks are done throughout the game/series.
In a fast paced series, I see the Spurs moving on in 5-6 games.
1) Miami Heat vs. 5) Chicago Bulls- Now this is a match up that could make things interesting for the defending champion Miami Heat. Without Derrick Rose, the Bulls ended the Heat’s 27 game win streak. What I want to know is how healthy is Joakim Noah going to be heading into this series? With him being the heart of their defense with his hustle plays and extra effort on both sides of the court, it is crucial for him to be able to play every game. The injuries of Kurt Hindrich may be a bit of an issue for the Bulls. Miami, on the other hand are well rested due to their sweep of their 1st round series of the Bucks. And with the now four time MVP LeBron James, you know he’s ready to continue to journey to get another championship.
The one factor that needs to be addressed is whether or not Derrick Rose will return. If he makes a return, that could change the entire series.
However, assuming that he doesn’t return, Miami should make it out of the series but not without Chicago giving them a bit of a headache.
Heat in 5-6 games
2) New York Knicks vs. 3) Indiana Pacers- With a game 1 loss, the Knicks are in trouble. If they can’t limit to an emerging star of Paul George and if the Knicks continue to settle for jump shots and three point attempts they may not make it to the conference finals. For a Knicks team that is a bit riddled with injuries, they need someone else on the roster to step up and help Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith.
I wasn’t able to see game 1 so it’s hard for me to make a prediction but I see the Pacers winning this series in 6-7 games.