Ain't this what y'all been waiting for? You ready? I used to pray for times like this, with my homie Richaun like this. So I had to grind through MCW to shine like Simmons. In the matter of time I spent on some Trust the Process shit, in the top of NBA Lottery, eyes locked on picks. See Embiid's dreams unfold, opponents nightmares come true. When people ask if I like Covington, I say "Yeah, I do." We knew Dario was coming, we could see it with a clear-eyed view. Got a trade, Boston gave us Fultz and we said "Thank you." I'd like some shooters please, Ersan and Marco let them triggers squeeze. JJ getting cream, never even thought about another team. Look what they started, the results of the lion-hearted. If you loved them when they sucked, you'll remember the day when Hinkie departed. Sixers gone win it regardless, 2018 NBA Finals Champs is what you gone call them.
If you didn't understand that first paragraph reference, it was my impression of the newest winner of social injustice Meek Mill. The man from Philly was courtside the night the Philadelphia 76ers won their first playoff series since 2012. His story of overcoming adversity and coming out on top after being down for so long is a metaphor of the Sixers last five seasons. They're not supposed to be here. They're not supposed to be in the playoffs. They're not supposed to be this good yet. But they are, and Sixers fans love to say we told you so... We told you so.
The Sixers over/under expected wins for the 2017 season was 40.5 and were supposed to be a 7th to 8th seed at best. They finished with 52 wins and claimed the 3 seed in the East after missing the playoffs for five straight seasons. They have won a total of 56 games this year including the postseason, a total they had over the past three seasons combined. So, YES, The Process worked.
The Sixers won their first series against the Miami Heat in 5 games, with their only loss coming on the back of top 3 all-time shooting guard Dwyane Wade. They went undefeated with Joel Embiid in the lineup. Ben Simmons became the third rookie in NBA history to record a triple-double in a playoff game, and his clutch performances in the series allowed his team to make quick work of the Heat. They outscored the Heat by 54 points over the course of the series, and scored 100+ points in every game. Brett Brown won his first playoff series as a head coach, and their fast series gave them a chance to rest up for the second round.
The Boston Celtics didn't win a road game in the first round, but still won the series in 7 games thanks to their homecourt advantage. As the 2 seed, they will continue to have homecourt advantage, but this time it won't matter. The Sixers were better than the Celtics in points, rebounds, and assists per game as a team. The Celtics will not face a tougher offense, as the Sixers are averaging 114.2 points per game in the playoffs while the Celtics are at 102.4. The grit from TJ McConnell off the bench will set the tone for the bench all series. The last time these two teams met was the only game when these two teams played without Kyrie Irving on the floor, and the Sixers defense allowed just 80 points. The Sixers defense was 4th in the NBA in defensive rating, and the depleted roster of the Celtics will only make it that much easier. The Sixers won't allow the Celtics to win a game, and the brooms will be brought out for the city of Boston.
It couldn't be any other way, the Sixers will have to go through Lebron to reach their incredibly high goals. The Sixers are built to take down the beast that is Lebron James and his unreliable squad in the Cleveland Cavaliers. The depth of the Sixers is what will tell the story of this series. In the best game of the season that featured a triple-double from both Lebron and Ben Simmons, the Sixers were without Embiid and didn't have a post presence to keep Lebron out of the paint, and they still won. With Embiid healthy, the Sixers will force the Cavaliers seasoned roster to take and make a lot of jump shots. The healthy mix of bigs in the paint such as Richaun Holmes, Ersan Ilyasova and Amir Johnson will help the Sixers dominate the boards as they did all season where they were 1st in the NBA in rebounds per game. Lebron will get his of course, but it won't be enough. The Sixers will win the series in 7 games, and will force Lebron to leave Cleveland yet again in the offseason.
After getting over the Lebron-hump, the Sixers will be heading into the Finals with a world of confidence. I used to tell my friends that are Golden State Warriors fans that the Sixers would meet them in the 2019 NBA Finals, but I was dead wrong. I was late to the game, the Sixers will meet them this season for the chance to take down the best franchise in basketball for the past five years. Just for the record, every year I go into the season saying the Sixers are going to be good, and most of my life they have disappointed me. But this season, even with my high expectations, my uncle predicted everything the Sixers would do so far. Rookie of the Year, 3 seed, and a series victory over the Heat in 5 games, so shoutout to my uncle for putting those positive vibes in the air. Please keep believing in us.
The Sixers led the NBA in two-point field goal percentage allowed, thanks to the great play of their interior defense. And although the Warriors shot the highest field goal percentage from two-point range, the length of the Sixers will keep the Warriors out of the paint. When we talk about sharing the basketball, these two teams were the top two in assists per game. This will be one of the most visually pleasing series in recent memory as both teams bring top tier play to the table. But this series will be about youth. The Sixers will simply have too much gas in the tank late in every game. The fact that the Warriors have essentially had to play an entire extra season over the last four years will finally catch up to them against a team who likes to run up and down the court for 48 minutes.
The shooters in JJ Redick, Marco Belinelli, Robert Covington, and Dario Saric will have a three ball answer for everything the Warriors throw at them. The only player who will be able to slow down Ben Simmons will be Draymond Green, which will open up the floor for Joel Embiid against guys like JaVale McGee and Zaza Pachulia. Ben Simmons will be the first rookie ever to average a triple-double in the NBA Finals on his way to earning NBA Finals MVP. The Sixers will take down the Warriors in 7 games and become the new most hated team in the NBA. Philly did it without an album.
I Trusted The Process, so I'm here for the results...
I have talked a lot of trash about Drake over the years, but it wasn't always this way. I remember when he dropped his Thank Me Later album I was like Wow this guy is a really talented singer. Whoever is writing his stuff is really spitting some bars. He kinda has a nice flow. His experience as an actor helps him create a certain an image of a rapper, it's great. As time went on, Drake has won multiple awards and sold millions of albums for his work in the Pop genre and thats great, the world needs popular music. And whoever his hairdresser is, shoutout to you because that boy got the sharpest lineup I've seen since Mike Bibby. He really put the Toronto music scene on the map, and his partnership with the Raptors has only helped grow the popularity of the team.
The Toronto Raptors fans still claim that there is an agenda by the United States media against the popularity of the team. Look Canada, your basketball team is amazing, they have a lot of great young talent and have an All-Star in Demar Derozan. It’s just that we’ve seen this play from you guys every year. You have an incredible regular season, and then when the playoffs come you disappoint. It’s nothing against Canada personally, we just don’t believe in your team. But this year is different.
The Raptors are coming off of a 6 game series against the Washington Wizards, where they looked good for the most part. They only outscored the Wizards by 12 points over the series, but all that matters is that they came out on top. Their big play from guys like Fred Van Vleet and Delon Wright allowed their bench to dominate the series. they got everything they needed from Demar Derozan and they proved why they were the #1 seed. Their depth and ability to use their length on the defensive end proved to be too much for the Wizards.
Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers just finished off the Indiana Pacers in 7 games, where they actually got outscored by 40 points over the series which is a playoff series record for a winning team. The defense of the Cavaliers has been abysmal all season, and it doesn’t look like that is going to change. The Raptors are 3rd in the NBA in points per game, whereas the Cavaliers were 25th in points per game allowed. If the Cavaliers are considered a one man show, the Raptors are the complete opposite of that. The number of different guys they can throw at Lebron will be too much for him to overcome. Serge Ibaka led his team in blocks per game and OG Anunoby was right behind him. They have five guys over 6’8” and their length will force the Cavaliers to live and die by the jump shot. The Raptors offense will have no problem showing out against the Cavaliers defense, and the Raptors will finally end Lebron’s reign in the East after 7 games.
The Philadelphia 76ers have been unbelievable this season, never should a team so young be this good this fast. But they are, and they will meet the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals. The story of this series will be the playoff inexperience of the 76ers. The Raptors have been here 5 straight years, and Derozan, Kyle Lowry, and Serge Ibaka will bring more than enough experience to take down the youth of the 76ers. In the three games these teams faced off in this season, the Raptors won the series 2-1 and outscored them by 15 points. Jonas Valanciunas stands at 7 feet and can match up well with Joel Embiid, he will get him in early foul trouble in their wins and will force the Sixers to make long range jumpers. Derozan is a physical guard, and he can keep Ben Simmons from getting into the paint. The Sixers committed more turnovers than any other team in the NBA, and this will only be magnified on the big stage. The Raptors will show why they were the best team in the East all season and will take care of the Sixers in 5 games.
The best matchup we could possibly get in the NBA Finals for true basketball heads is the Houston Rockets vs. Toronto Raptors. There is no matchup better than this one when we look at teams playing true team basketball mixed in with All-Star players. This series will pit two of the top three scoring teams in the NBA. The Rockets made more three pointers than any other team in the NBA, but the Raptors were not far behind as they were 4th in the NBA. This series will be high scoring and fast paced as both of these teams rank in the top ten in terms of pace of play. As mentioned before, the length of the Raptors is unmatched my any team and it led them to the second most blocks in the NBA. Forcing the Rockets to live at the three point line is dangerous, but will prove that defense wins championships. Demar Derozan won’t outplay James Harden, but he will get everything he needs in the most important moments and win the Finals MVP after 7 games. The Toronto Raptors will win the NBA Finals and Drake will come out with a new Raptors championship clothing line that only Canadians will buy.
Demar ain't no joke...
Alright, I know what you're thinking. How are the Cleveland Cavaliers only 5th on my list of teams who can win the NBA Finals? Whether you watch basketball or not, you know who Lebron James is. And whatever team has him should have a great shot at winning the championship. But this season has been quite different, the Cavs and GM Lebron changed more than half of the roster at the trade deadline so these guys have only had about 30 games to learn how to play together. And when you put their roster from top to bottom up against the other top 4 teams, the fifth best odds is pretty fair. But none of this may matter because, as I said, they have Lebron James.
The Cleveland Cavaliers just bounced back in a Game 2 victory over the Indiana Pacers to tie the series up at 1-1. As much as everyone has talked about how much the Cavs roster has struggled down the stretch and in the playoffs so far, they still have Lebron. He started Game 2 on a 16-1 run by himself. The guy has a switch where he can literally just say Hey, I'm going to dominate my opponent and there is nothing they can do to stop me. Unfortunately, basketball is a team game, not a one-on-one matchup.
However, having the best player on the planet gives you a chance to win, regardless of the players around him. Now that Lebron has figured out the Pacers, he will not let his team lose this series. The defensive play has actually been pretty good for the Cavs so far, giving up less than 100 points in both games and 10 points less than their season average. Nobody on the Cavs has stepped up yet, but Jordan Clarkson has proved that he wants to be aggressive. He will continue to push and will find himself getting big time buckets in the clutch. That, plus the improvement of the defense and Lebron scoring 30+ points per game will help them win the next 3 and win the series in 5 games.
The Toronto Raptors are playing with confidence and are already up 2-0 in their series and have had no issues with the Washington Wizards. The Raptors have always looked good in the regular season and in the playoffs, besides against teams that have Lebron. They have, by far, the best roster in the East and has the best chance to knock the Cavs out. The Raptors have the 4th highest scoring offense, and scored 79 points in a half against the Cavs earlier this season. But it won't matter. None of it will. Lebron will only get better as the playoffs go on and will average 40 points per game in this 6 game series. Jeff Green and Larry Nance Jr. will make it tough on the bigs of the Raptors to stay in their defensive sets and will help stretch the floor for Lebron to drive to the lane. Drake will invite Lebron to his mansion over the summer to try to recruit him.
The last Eastern Conference foe in his way will be the Philadelphia 76ers. The young squad full of playmakers, shooters, and defensive minded guys will make it unbelievably tough on the Cavs. This will be a very high scoring series as the Cavs defense has struggled all season and the 76ers will be too inexperienced against champions like Kevin Love and JR Smith. We saw in their final matchup against the 76ers in the regular season what both of these teams are capable of. The Cavs were down by 30 points and Lebron still found a way to will his team back all the way to the point where one shot could've won them the game. Lebron will take it upon himself to guard Ben Simmons and these guys will battle on both ends of the floor. The two floor generals will both average a triple-double over a 7 game series, but Lebron will rip the hearts out of the 76ers chest when he drops a cold-blooded 60 points in Game 7 to end their season.
Ahh, here we are again. Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers Part IV. I can sense the excitement in you right now. Don't you want to see the same thing again?! Well too damn bad because you're going to get it and you're going to get 7 games of it. It will be one of the most perplexing NBA Finals in recent memory. Only Game 7 will be decided by less than 15 points, as every other game will be a blowout by one team or the other. The fact that the Warriors will have their health will only make the challenge that much greater for Lebron, which is exactly what he wants and needs. Although, Kyrie Irving will not be walking through that door, the level play of all of his teammates will account for that. Rodney Hood, Kyle Korver, and George Hill will get hot from three point land in their wins. Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love, and Larry Nance Jr. will dominate their matchups on the defensive end and will scoop up every rebound possible. Jeff Green, Cedi Osman, and Jordan Clarkson will help facilitate the ball on the offensive end.
And of course, Lebron James will be absolutely unstoppable. The Warriors will gameplay every which way to try to slow him down, double team, triple team, hack-a-Lebron, zone defense, even 6 players on the court. It won't matter. The guy will set the bar even higher for himself in his career achievements as he will average 50 points per game in their wins, including a 55 point performance in Game 7 to hoist another trophy in Oracle Arena. This will cause a shift as the Warriors will decide to blow it up after losing to Lebron again. They will send Klay Thompson to the Los Angeles Lakers and Draymond Green to the Detroit Pistons, making Lebron's offseason choices a little more interesting.
I don't even need to say anything...
There was a point in time when Carmelo Anthony was considered one of the best, or even in some discussions, the best player in the NBA. He was rocking the braids, the baggy clothes, and occasionally the loose fitted du-rag. It wasn't exactly a time when basketball players were dressing to impress. But once he started playing in New York, that all changed. He married Lala, he became a well-dressed man, and his children became models. But besides the occasional big game from Carmelo here and there, we haven't seen that same player that used to dominate for the Denver Nuggets. Maybe we need him to rock some baggy clothes again to get his mind right, or maybe he should rock his USA jersey underneath his uniform, or maybe he should rock the hoodie everywhere he goes. We need the old Carmelo back.
The Oklahoma City Thunder had somewhat of a disappointing regular season, at least in terms of what was expected of them. They traded away and released a handful of bench players and Victor Oladipo to acquire Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. It was supposed to be easy, they were supposed to score 130 points per game. But as we have seen over the course of the season, there has been many growing pains and questions about how these guys can fit together.
But even with their lack of dominance that everyone expected, they still managed to get home court advantage as the 4 seed in the first round and a matchup with the Utah Jazz. They are currently up 1-0 in the series and their Game 1 featured Paul George absolutely going off for 36 points on 8/11 from three point land. He was talking all trash to Joe Ingles, who has been a key offensive weapon for the Jazz all season, but has no chance in hell of guarding Paul George. Carmelo poured in 15 points, and the Thunder got solid play from Alex Abrines and Steven Adams. Rookie sensation Donovan Mitchell played great, but over the course of the series will have his hands full with Russel Westbrook, who is coming off of another triple-double season. The first game will be indicative of what the series will be like, and the Thunder will simply be too much for the Jazz when they win in 5 games.
The second round will be the toughest test for the Thunder, as they will have to face the best team in basketball in the Houston Rockets. Westbrook has been on a mission to defeat everyone in his path, especially those he has formerly played with. James Harden against Russ for 7 games might be the most explosive offensive showing we have seen between two point guards in any series in NBA history. These guys will average 30 points and 10 assists and will do whatever they can to drag their team to the finish line. The Thunder had sticky fingers all season and led the NBA in steals per game, and with a team that has two point guards in their starting lineup, the aggressive defensive play will shut down all passing lanes. Outside of Harden, the Rockets are not great at isolation, and the Thunder will do their part to force their shooters to create their own shots. The defense of the Thunder will come up huge in Game 7 when they force 20 turnovers and block Harden's game series clinching shot at the buzzer.
Westbrook's revenge tour will continue when he and the Thunder face off against the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. The teams split their season series 2-2 with three of the four games resulting in blowout victories. Steph Curry will not be able to overcome his injury, and the Warriors will have to play the series without him. This will open the door for the Thunder, and we will get another level of Russ that we have never seen before. He will Lebron-like as he will average a triple-double over a 7 game series against the Warriors. The key in this series will be Carmelo Anthony as he will be matched up against Kevin Durant. Somehow, someway, we will finally get what we wanted from Carmelo; Hoodie Melo. He will drop 60 points in a huge Game 6 victory that will force a Game 7 in Oakland. Paul George will hit 10 three's and will lock up Klay Thompson, and Russ will have the first 20-20-20 game in Game 7 history. People will put Durant's face on that meme of Wolverine looking at that framed picture and it will be of Steph Curry.
Having George, Westbrook, Melo, and Lebron in the NBA Finals will make for one hell of a show. It will also feature some of the best dressed men in the NBA. The Cleveland Cavaliers had one of the worst defenses in the NBA all season, and by this time nothing will have changed. Lebron will carry his team to this point and will average a triple-double throughout the entire playoffs, another historic notch in his belt. But all will be for not as the Thunder's offense will prove to be too much. The role players of the Thunder will lock in defensively all series and will allow their Big3 to carry the offensive load. The Thunder were 5th in the rebounds per game, and the lack of big men on the Cavs will allow Steven Adams to dominate the boards and give his team all the second and third chances they need, All three of those guys will average 25+ points over a 7 game series and will prove to the world that this experiment worked. Russel Westbrook will win the NBA Finals MVP and will call out every player, coach, and media member that doubted him in alphabetical order. The 3 hour speech will be on the bonus footage of the NBA Finals Blu-Ray.
Why Not Russ?
I remember watching the Super Bowl last year, and the Atlanta Falcons were up 28-3 on the New England Patriots late in the third quarter and I was convinced it was over. They probably started wheeling the barrels full of champagne on ice to the Falcons locker room, the talking heads were ready to write Tom Brady's obituary on his career, and Bill Belichick's agent was probably already on the phone with the New York Giants for a coaching vacancy. Then, it happened. Belichick and Brady mounted an unbelievable comeback and won the first overtime game in Super Bowl history. Now imagine having to play an entire season with their backs against the wall, that is what their Boston basketball counterpart has been hit with, and they are looking to come out on top in a similar dramatic fashion.
The Boston Celtics have overcome every obstacle in their way, and have found themselves in the 2 seed faced off against the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round. The offseason for the Celtics was a championship in and of itself, they added Kyrie Irving through trade and signed free agent Gordon Hayward. But in the first game of the season, Hayward broke his leg in a pretty gruesome injury and a lot of people thought their season ended right then and there. Then Kyrie went on an beautiful stretch of high level basketball for the first few months of the season and was even in many MVP discussions. Late in the season, Kyrie had to get minimally invasive surgery on his knee and it has sidelined him for the rest of the year.
Yet, the Celtics still find themselves in prime position for an NBA Finals run and answered their first test in an overtime contest in Game 1 win against the Bucks. Terry Rozier showed that he can fill in for Kyrie's place and be enough of a playmaker to give his team a chance all the way until the final buzzer. Al Horford proved his worth while letting the world know he is now the key piece on this team, as he is now the clear cut leader of this squad. Their stellar defense shut Giannis Antetokounmpo down for all but the final few minutes of the fourth quarter. They will continue to play with grit in this series in will win in 5 games.
The Philadelphia 76ers look ready to win their first round matchup and are destined to play the Celtics in the second round. When we talk about the best rebuilds in basketball in the past decade, this series will display the two top teams on that list. The youth and athleticism of both teams will create for some incredible basketball. The difference will be in the minds of the coaches. Brett Brown has seemed to be one step ahead of his opponents every night, but Brad Stevens plays the game like chess. Stevens gets the most out of every player he has on his roster, making guys like Guerschon Yabusele, Semi Ojeleye, and Daniel Theis play above their ceiling. The use of his many bigs will wear down Joel Embiid and will force guys like Richaun Holmes and Ersan Ilyasova to play big minutes. With a strategic gameplay to limit Ben Simmons playmaking opportunities, Stevens will coach his team to a grueling Game 7 victory which will put them back in the Eastern Conference Finals for a second straight year.
The rematch of last year's Eastern Conference Finals will be set when the Cleveland Cavaliers fight their way through two 7 game series' to get there. Lebron James will have to carry the entire load to get his team here, but it won't be enough against this Celtics team. The Cavs have been one of the worst defensive teams all season, and the way the Celtics share the ball and get open three point shots will be too much for them to handle. The Celtics were 2nd in the NBA in three point percentage, and the efficient shooting of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will lead to some high scoring games. The Celtics and their 4th best scoring defense will hold every other player on the Cavs to single digit scoring averages and will hold them to under 100 points in every win. The ghosts of Celtics past will haunt Lebron the night before the game and he will miss the series winning shot, and his streak of Finals runs will end.
The recurring theme here is that the Celtics have one of the best coaches in the game, and he will be tested when his team faces the Houston Rockets and one of the most innovative coaches in the game in Mike D'antoni. The gameplan will be to double and triple team James Harden early in possessions and force him to give up the ball to his teammates. The Rockets will hit their shots, but with the limited amount of opportunities given to Harden, too much of the burden will be placed on spot up shooters. The Rockets were 19th in the NBA in rebounds per game, whereas the Celtics were 8th. The recent acquisition of Greg Monroe will prove to be a key move that will ultimately help the Celtics get all the second chance points they need to match the Rockets basket for basket.
Four of the five starters will average double digit scoring figures, Marcus Smart will get his health back and will play key minutes off the bench, and Al Horford will average a solid 20 points per game and will be the Finals MVP. Brad Stevens will prove to the world why he is the best coach in the game and of the future. With the healthy addition of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward over the offseason, the Celtics will look to be the first team to three-peat since the Shaq and Kobe Lakers.
Jaylen Brown is niiiiicceee...
My wife and I went to Portland for a weekend getaway last year, it was the first vacation we took alone together since our son was born. I had forgotten that marijuana had been legalized there for a few years now, like I knew it was but I just hadn't put any thought into it. So when we were walking around the city, we saw a dispensary and I really wanted to go in since I never could in California up until that point. The first dispensary we went to was a lot like in that show Disjointed on Netflix, it was a bunch of young stoners who just love smoking weed. They were nice, but they didn't know too much about their products.
On the way back home, we stopped at a second dispensary since it was going to be the last one we could go to until marijuana became legal here in California. This place was totally different, the workers were all 40+ years old, when we walked in they asked what I would be treating myself for (stress, pain, disease, etc.). When we walked into the back, every different strain of weed had a description of where it was from, what it was used for, and how it was grown. The experience of these two vastly different places are indicative of Portland's basketball team. A group of guys who have different styles of play, but still find a way to keep it lit.
The Portland Trail Blazers played great throughout the whole season and got themselves the 3 seed and a first round matchup with the New Orleans Pelicans. They already lost home court advantage as they went down 1-0 in the series behind a huge Playoff Rondo game. This is the first time they have home court advantage in a series in the Damian Lillard era, and they have already found a way to lose it. But we're not here for negativity, we're here to talk about how the Blazers will turn it around and knock end Anthony Davis' championship hopes.
A blessing in disguise was the fact that the Blazers only got 3 points between CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard in the first half, and they only lost the game by 3 points. Those two will get their points, and it will spark their offense. Jusuf Nurkic proved to be at a significant disadvantage against Anthony Davis, but everyone is. But some increased minutes to Ed Davis could show an improvement on the defensive end and allow the Blazers to set more of their focus on putting the ball in the basket. This series will go 7 and the Blazers will prove why the home court advantage was so important to them.
For the third time in three years, we will get the Golden State Warriors and Blazers series, but this time will have a different outcome. Steph Curry will not be able to overcome his injury, which will allow Dame to get anything he wants against Quinn Cook, or any other guard they put on him. Dame Time will be in full effect as he will average 40 points per game and will go toe to toe with Kevin Durant for 6 games. The Warriors big men will be no challenge for Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins, as the Blazers were 3rd in the league in rebounds per game while the Warriors were a mediocre 17th. The Blazers will clinch another home series victory when Dame hits a fadeaway three pointer at the buzzer to send them to the Western Conference Finals, and will give him another reason to make a song.
They will still maintain their home court advantage in the Western Conference Finals when they face off against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Blazers have been one of the best free throw shooting teams all season at 80% which put them at 3rd in the NBA, whereas the Thunder are 29th with 71%. In what will be a tightly contested series, this will be the deciding factor. Over the offseason, Dame and CJ were lobbying for Hoodie Melo to join their squad and add another scorer. Carmelo Anthony will get booed every game in Portland and will average 3 points per game on the road in this series. A clutch Game 7 performance by Evan Turner on both ends of the floor will lead the Blazers to the NBA Finals.
The Boston Celtics are currently up 1-0 in their series, and look to be well coached enough to make a run. Brad Stevens will coach his team to the Finals, and the backcourt of the Blazers will be chomping at the bit to go against guys like Terry Rozier and Shane Larkin. The Blazers have been one of the best teams in the NBA in terms of turnover percentage as they are 6th in NBA with just 12% of their possessions ending in a turnover. Allowing themselves to have as many possessions as possible against one of the best defensive teams will give them a great chance to put up big points. CJ McCollum will break the record for most threes made in a single Finals series and will win the Finals MVP. Damian Lillard will be happy his team won the Finals, but will continue to talk about how he is underrated since he didn't win the MVP. No disrespect Dame Dolla, but you're not underrated anymore.
Dame Time is always fun to watch...
This past offseason was an blessing in disguise for the Indiana Pacers. The Paul George era had run its course and the Pacers did what they had to do to try to get good return for their All NBA shooting guard. The Oklahoma City Thunder parted with Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, in exchange for George in what the overwhelming majority believed was bad return. Everyone knew these two were good, but they never expected they could have had the success they are having this season. And their success has given the city of Indiana another postseason of hope.
The Indiana Pacers have locked up the 5 seed and set themselves up with a tough test in Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Pacers have found themselves in the exact same first round matchup as last season, except for the fact that they were in the 7 seed. So after trading away their best player since Reggie Miller, they actually improved behind their new best player in Victor Oladipo. By the time this series is over, Lebron will have wished he never picked him for Team Lebron on All-Star weekend.
Once upon a time, Lance Stephenson used to be Lebron’s biggest annoyance during his Miami Heat days. Stephenson is having one of the best seasons of his career when you look at the advanced metrics, posting his highest usage rate, highest rebound percentage, and his second lowest turnover rate. These two big scorers will dominate the defense of the Cavs who have been the worst in the NBA over the course of the season. Lebron will put up his numbers, but the lack of big men will show greatly. Miles Turner will dominate the boards and will get whatever he wants in the paint against either Tristan Thompson or Larry Nance Jr. In a high scoring series, Stephenson will get into Lebron’s head in Game 7 and will draw him into a brawl that will get him ejected for the first time in his career. Sorry Lebron, you’re reign is donezo.
After knocking off the King, the Pacers will be playing with an unbelievable amount of confidence. Their second round matchup with the Toronto Raptors will be a cakewalk. Thaddeus Young will finally break through and have his shining moment in the playoffs. Young has been the sidekick to Oladipo all season, but this is the perfect series for him to take over. With the great backcourt of the Raptors, all of the focus will be on Oladipo, while Young will be dominating his matchups against inexperienced guys like Jakob Poetl and Pascal Siakam. The Pacers are 23rd in the NBA in terms of pace of play, and their ability to slow the game down will allow them to keep games close. Cory Joseph and Darren Collison will come up with clutch three’s and the Pacers will sweep Canada out of the playoffs.
The Eastern Conference Finals will set up a matchup between the two biggest surprises of the season, when they face off against the Philadelphia 76ers. This will be the Al Jefferson series, as he will be matched up against the young Joel Embiid and won’t need Twitter to troll him on the court. The experience of the Pacers will prove too much for the 76ers and they will force them to make far too many mistakes. The Pacers are 1st in the NBA in forced turnover rate, and Jefferson will force Embiid to overthink his every move and turn the ball over at a high rate. The 76ers commit the second most fouls in the NBA, and good free throw shooters like Trevor Booker and Bojan Bogdanovic will get to the line for easy points. The Pacers will win in 6 games and Jefferson will go on Twitter and put the Jordan crying meme over Embiid’s face.
The hot play of the Pacers will set the basketball world on fire, and David will have to knock off Goliath in the Golden State Warriors. Steph Curry will not be able to overcome his injury, and Kevin Durant will have to carry much of the load for the Warriors. Victor Oladipo will prove to the world that he should have been the NBA regular season MVP. There were only two guards this season that led their team in dunks, and that was Oladipo and his former teammate in Russel Westbrook. This shows the aggressiveness and intensity that this guy has played with all season. His ability to get to the rim and create And1 opportunities like he did all season will prove too much for defenders like Quinn Cook and Nick Young.
Domantas Sabonis will prove that he was a key piece in their offseason trade as well as he will have no trouble with Zaza and Javale McGee. Kevin Durant will put up big scoring numbers, but the depth of the Pacers will prove too much for him and the Warriors. The Pacers will win in Game 7 and Finals MVP Victor Oladipo will one day get a statue put up of him in Indiana.
Vic got big time hops...
It was 1970, Game 7 on the NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the New York Knicks. Willis Reed had a torn muscle in his right thigh, and it was uncertain if he could play through the injury. During warmups, Reed trotted out onto the floor and the Madison Square Garden erupted. Even the Lakers stopped warming up to watch Reed run out onto the floor. The emotional battle had been won before the game even started, and the Knicks won the series. We could see something similar to that happen this year.
The San Antonio Spurs locked up the 7 seed and set up a date with the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. All season long, the story around the Spurs has been about the mystery around Kawhi Leonard. Is he hurt? Is he healthy? Does he even want to play? Is there a rift between him and the front office? We don't know, every story around the situation has been purely speculation. Maybe this was the plan all along, to purposely set themselves up against a Steph Curry-less Warriors and a 100% healthy Leonard.
It's Game 3 of the series and the Spurs have managed to get a split on the road. Both teams are warming up, and out of the tunnel comes Kawhi Leonard. The crowd loses its mind, Twitter explodes, and Kevin Durant forgets his grocery list right there on the spot. In his 9 games that he did play this season, he averaged 16.2 points per game and had a 52% efficient field goal percentage. His scoring ability will raise the level of play for a Spurs team that has struggled to find buckets over the course of the season. The Spurs are 1st in the NBA in opponents points per game, and they will live by the mantra that defense wins championships. Kevin Durant will fold under the pressure of having to carry the scoring load for his team and the Spurs will knock off the Warriors in 6 games.
Anthony Davis proved to be too much for Jusuf Nurkic and the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round, which set the Spurs up for a matchup with the New Orleans Pelicans. Greg Popovich has always been a genius with how he defends against teams with superstars. He would send doubles on Kobe, he would force Lebron to shoot jumpers, he wouldn't allow Steve Nash to penetrate and kick out. In this case, he will force Davis to share the basketball and make his teammates beat them. The Spurs have some of the best defensive players in the NBA in Dejounte Murray, Lamarcus Aldrige, and Pau Gasol. Guys like E'Twuan Moore and Darius Miller will have to put up way too many threes and it will be all for nothing. The Spurs will win in 5 games and Rajon Rondo will join the NBA on TNT crew.
The Western Conference Finals will set up another coaching duel between Mike D'antoni and Poppovich when the Spurs face the Houston Rockets. If we flashback to last year, the Spurs were outmatched in terms of talent especially with the Rockets having the best player on the court in James Harden, but it still didn't matter. The Spurs won in 6 games, and D'antoni lost yet another series to Pop. This year will be no different. Patty Mills and Danny Green will shoot the lights out from three point land and will have an answer for every punch the Rockets throw at them. The Spurs commit the least amount of fouls in the NBA, which is huge against a team who leads the league in free throws attempted per game. Harden and Chris Paul will cry to the refs every night and will get tossed in the final game of the series. The Spurs will win in 6 game and will hold the Rockets to under 100 points in every win of the series.
Reaching the NBA Finals is something the Spurs are used to, with more than half of their roster made up of champions. They will face off against the Cleveland Cavaliers for Lebron's 4th Finals going against the Spurs. This time, Coach Popovich will allow Lebron James to get all his stats, and force the Cavs new reupholstered roster to beat them. Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker will turn back the clock and come up clutch for the Spurs like its 2005. Rudy Gay and Kyle Anderson will play key minutes and will average double digit scoring against the worst defense in the NBA. Kawhi will do what he once did to Lebron, and beat him in the NBA Finals, this time in 7 games. Lebron James will win the NBA Finals MVP even though his team lost, and will take his talents to The Alamo over the summer.
Coach Pop is the GOAT. don't @ me...
Stats and numbers are the easiest way to create a narrative for sports teams and athletes. And from year to year, these numbers change. But one thing that never changes is winning mentality and experience. The Miami Heat traded for Dwyane Wade at the deadline to add the experience and culture they needed to try to take this team to the next level. In what could be Wade's final postseason, he will need to find a way to channel Prime DWade to win the championship.
The Miami Heat just locked up the 6 seed with an overtime win over the Toronto Raptors in the final game of the season. This sets up Dwyane Wade to play in his 13th postseason in his 15 year career. This also marks head coach Erik Spoelstra's 9th postseason appearance in 10 seasons. If we can think back to last season when the Heat didn't have Wade, they only missed the playoffs by a tiebreaker to the Chicago Bulls who had Wade. This just shows that Spoelstra is one of the top coaches in the NBA, and as long as they have him, the Heat have a chance at a title. They will play the inexperienced 3 seed Philadelphia 76ers in the first round starting on April 14th.
Heading into Saturday, Joel Embiid's health status is still up in the air. Although the 76ers are coming into the playoffs hot with a 16 game winning streak, none of that matters in a 7 game series. The Miami Heat have a significant advantage in their playoff experience and winning culture. The 76ers are new to the game and the Heat will expose them for what they are, a very young team who overachieved this season. The Miami Heat have the 4th best scoring defense in the NBA, led by their big men in Hassan Whiteside and rookie Bam Adebayo. With the uncertainty around Embiid's health, the Heat will dominate the boards for as long as he is out. Embiid will come back for Game 4 with his team down 3-0 in the series and will bring his team back for a Game 7. But in a Game 7 scenario, Wade will see an increase in minutes and will do exactly what he did to the 76ers in their third matchup of the season (see video below), come in the clutch for his team that will lead to a big victory. Spoelstra will out-coach Brett Brown and will show who the real Coach of the Year is.
Their second round matchup will come against the hobbled Boston Celtics. The Miami Heat will be too deep to lose to another well coached team. The backcourt of the Heat will dominate this series, and will bring an end to the Celtics quickly. All-Star point guard Goran Dragic will have no trouble with Terry Rozier and will able to get to the paint and lead his team in free throw attempts over a 5 game series, just like he did all season. The Celtics have not been an efficient shooting team all season, ranking 21st in field goal percentage, and worse without Kyrie Irving. Josh Richardson led the NBA this season in go-ahead three point shots in the fourth quarter, and his clutch play will allow him to play with confidence against anyone who attempts to guard him. In a series clinching Game 5, Richardson will score 30 points in the final fourth quarter of the series and will solidify his place in Heat history.
The Toronto Raptors will fall to Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in an embarrassingly bad sweep, which will set up the first ever playoffs series between Wade and his buddy. The Cavaliers have posted the 5th worst scoring defense in the NBA and are the worst overall defense among Eastern Conference playoff teams. James Johnson will be due for a few good games, and will take his defensive play to another level when he has to matchup against Lebron. Johnson will limit James to only 30 points per game, and won't allow him to get the assists he needs to get his teammates involved. Spoelstra and Wade will know all of Lebron's moves and will come up with an overall gameplan to dominate the offensive game, exposing the Cavaliers defense. Wade will hit a pump-fake, fadeaway 19 foot jumper, leaning into Lebron, which will give him the And-1 and will hit a go-ahead free throw with 2 seconds left. Then will block Lebron's shot on the other end, as he did twice earlier in the season, to win the series. He will finally come out and say that Lebron only won championships because of him.
The hot play of the Heat will set them up with an NBA Finals rematch between them and the San Antonio Spurs. At this point, the media will still be asking Will Kawhi come back for this series? And guess what, he won't. It will be a series full of amazing play calls and defensive strategies, and will pit the two best coaches in the league against each other once again. Wayne Ellington broke the Miami Heat record for most three pointers made in a season with 227. That is an incredible amount of threes, and he will be just as incredible in this series. Pau Gasol will be guarding his younger self in Kelly Olynyk, and he will not be able to slow him down. Justice Winslow and Tyler Johnson will prove their doubters wrong will come up with great defensive plays every game over the course of a 7 game series.
The series winning shot will look exactly like Game 6 when Ray Allen hit that clutch 3. Except this time it will be a missed shot by Wade, rebounded by Whiteside, then kicked out to Richardson for the championship clinching three in Tony Parker's face. The NBA will award Dwyane Wade with the Finals MVP even though he only averaged 10 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds per game. Wade will ride off into the sunset and will announce his retirement and will enter the acting game. Miami is the East Coast Hollywood.
Flash is too clutch...
Champion (noun); definition: a winner of first prize or place in a competition, one who shows marked superiority. As a 76ers fan, I am currently throwing shade. Don’t worry if you didn’t understand the reference, we’re not here to discuss the Rookie of the Year race. Ben Simmons is obviously the choice, as he has been historically great, only being bested by Oscar Robertson. But the rookie play from the Utah Jazz has been great as well, also historically great. Which gives them a chance to run the table and make history of their own.
The Utah Jazz have just secured the 5 seed in the first round of the playoffs and have set themselves up for a date with the Oklahoma City Thunder. This was one of the tougher draws they could have asked for, having to go against Russel Westbrook who averaged a triple double for a second straight season, Paul George who led the league in steals per game and was a high volume three point shooter, and Carmelo Anthony who still can’t find his hoodie. But the ball dominance of those three will make it easy for the Jazz to use their top ranked defense to force a lot of bad shots.
There are only two teams in the NBA that allow less than 100 points per game, the San Antonio Spurs and the Utah Jazz. You would think that a team who has a guy that averages more than 10 assists per game would share the ball well as a whole, but the Thunder have struggled with that. They are the second worst team in the NBA in team assists, which is not a recipe for success against a tough defense. Rudy Robert will dominate this series as the anchor of the defense and will limit the amount of opportunities for the Thunder to get easy baskets. The league leader in blocks per game will send Russel Westbrook's game series winning shot attempt in Game 7 to the moon, and his silhouette of his block will be his logo for his PayLess shoes.
Advancing to the second round will set them up with the best team in basketball in the Houston Rockets. The Rockets are known for their high volume three point shooting, but the Jazz actually shoot a higher percentage from deep with 37% in comparison to 36%. It may seem like a small difference, but every inch counts in a matchup with a tough opponent. Donovan Mitchell broke the rookie record for most three pointers made in a debut season with 186, where he passed Damian Lillard and Steph Curry, just a couple of All-NBA guards. Chris Paul will have his hands full with the playmaking ability of Mitchell and will not be able to slow him down from deep. Mitchell will break the record for most three pointers made in a single postseason series and will begin to get comparisons to all-time greats. James Harden will have a chance to win the series in the final seconds of Game 7 but will miss three free throws and his final air ball will become a meme for all things trash.
After getting through their toughest test, the Jazz will advance to their first Western Conference Finals since they had John Stockton and Karl Malone. Luckily for them, Steph Curry could not overcome his injury, which set themselves up for a series with the San Antonio Spurs. This will be the most boring series in NBA history, which will pit the two best scoring defenses against each other. Unless you love low scoring, grind it out basketball, then this series is perfect for you. Dante Exum has gained his health back and has been great off the bench, which will give the Jazz the spark they need to win the series. He has shot 50% from the floor over the last month, and will only get better against defenders like Bryn Forbes and Brandon Paul. Joe Ingles will shoot the lights out and will be the only other player besides Mitchell to average double digit scoring figures in the series, as his three point shooting will be key in the clutch. The Jazz will have to go another 7 games, but will win in a tightly contested, low scoring contest that will feature a final 5 minute scoring drought from each team. Fun, right?
The NBA Finals, something the state of Utah has been longing to win since their move from New Orleans in 1979. If they wish to make their dream come true, they will have to face another team attempting to win their first ever championship in the Toronto Raptors. With the Jazz somehow avoiding Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, Anthony Davis, and Lebron James on their path to the top, they have no choice but to win the championship. The choice to play aggressive will make head coach Quin Snyder look like a genius. The Jazz are 4th in the league in steals, and the Raptors are 4th in the league in fouls committed, which will be advantageous for a team will their foot on the gas pedal all series.
The Raptors are a team who likes to share the ball and win by committee, but the Jazz are 1st in the league in assists allowed per game, and their ability to force turnovers will only make it harder to score on them outside of isolation plays. Derrick Favors and Ricky Rubio will be the unsung heroes of the series as they will silence their doubters with championship level play. Rudy Robert will block anything and everything that comes into the paint. His gutsy Game 7 performance will show the world that he should be mentioned when talking about the best current players in the world. He will win the Finals MVP will get drunk at the celebration parade and will wear a shirt with Draymond Green's face on it that will say "We won? Yup!" on the front and "Toronto sucks? Yup!" on the back. And the pettiness level in the NBA will reach an all time high.
All rookie jokes aside, this guy is GREAT, let's not take that for granted...
Just a man trying to make the most of his time on this planet.