The first round of the NBA Playoffs are finally over so now I can officially make my picks! I chose underdogs in the first round and it didn't go so well, I went a perfect 4-0 in the Western Conference and a dismal 1-3 in the Eastern Conference. But now I'm here to redeem myself! And with more upsets!
Western Conference Second Round Series'
(1) Golden State Warriors vs. (5) Portland Trail Blazers
The Golden State Warriors handled the Houston Rockets fairly easily in the first round, as expected. But losing Steph Curry to multiple injuries sustained during the series put a big question mark on the future for this Warriors team. In the wake of Steph's absence, Klay Thompson has stepped up and maintained a high level of play for his team. Meanwhile the Blazers got passed the Clippers in 6 games by winning four straight games to close out their series. For the third straight year, Damian Lillard has his team winning games in the playoffs despite the fact that he is the only returning starter from last season. The Warriors won the season series 3-1 at full strength. But now that Steph Curry's play is in doubt, even if he does come back he most likely won't be at 100%. The Blazers played the Warriors well all season, averaging 117 points per game and even dropping 137 points in their win at home. If the Blazers can win one of these first two games against a Steph-less Warriors then I believe they will take the series. I may be crazy, but I #NeverDoubt Rip City as long as they have Dame Dolla. Blazers in 7 games.
(3) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (2) San Antonio Spurs
Russel Westbrook was simply dominant in the first round against the Dallas Mavericks. He averaged 28.8 points per game, 10.8 assists per game, and 6.3 rebounds per game. Putting that next to a healthy Kevin Durant was a beautiful sight to see for any basketball fan. But players like Serge Ibaka and Dion Waiters need to step up if they want to have any chance in this series. The San Antonio Spurs made a joke of the first round, winning every game by double digits. They have continued their great play from the regular season and have carried it over into the playoffs. We could take all the best players from both teams and give them to Billy Donovan and the Thunder and they still wouldn't have a chance against Gregg Popovich and the Spurs. I'm taking coaching in this series. Spurs in 5 games.
Eastern Conference Playoff Series'
(1) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (4) Atlanta Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks had some extremely tough battles against the Boston Celtics in the first round, but they prevailed in six games. Holding the Celtics to 93.8 points per game made it easier on themselves to score just enough on the offensive end to move on to the second round. Hot shooting by Kent Bazemore, Mike Scott, and Paul Millsap was the story in the wins. The story for the Cavs was much different. They probably had one of the tougher sweeps I've ever seen, but a sweep is a sweep and they beat the Pistons in four games. The majority of the offense come from Kevin Love, JR Smith, and a man with a newfound clutch mode Kyrie Irving. Last year, these two teams met in the Eastern Conference Finals with a chance for a trip to the Finals on the line and the Cavs beat them down in four games. I don't expect this series to be much different because they still have Lebron James. Cavaliers in 4 games.
(2) Toronto Raptors vs. (3) Miami Heat
The #Views from Toronto are looking up, the Raptors won their first playoff series since 2001. It took them seven games to beat a far inferior team in the Indiana Pacers, with the Raptors offense sputtering to the finish line. Scoring 11 points in the final quarter of game seven was enough to propel them to the second round. But scoring is going to have to come in bunches if they want to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals, because the Miami Heat have a streaky offense that can blow a team out before halftime. In their four wins in the first round series against the Charlotte Hornets, they averaged 110.2 points per game. But they only averaged 84.3 points per game in their three losses. So we have the Raptors completely underachieving with the roster that they have, and we have the Heat who look like a championship contender half of the time and look like the lottery team they were a year ago the other half of the time. I think the basketball world needs a head-to-head matchup of Lebron James and the Miami Heat. I'm picking Wade to carry his team in this series, and take his talents to Cleveland. Heat in 6 games.
Just a man trying to make the most of his time on this planet.