Implied Dissent

Saturday, April 28, 2012

NBA Playoffs 2012

It's looking like another year of excellent series for the NBA. It's pretty wide open, all around. Like last year I'll give predictions for all rounds now, but what I write for Rounds 2-4 isn't to be taken seriously at this time.

Round 1
Eastern Conference
#1 Bulls against #8 76ers. I never really bought the 76ers' strong early performance this season. They can probably pull off a win at home, but that seems like about it. Bulls 4-1.
#2 Heat against #7 Knicks. I can't dismiss the Knicks; Carmelo is playing really well, Chandler anchors a now good defense, and I don't really trust Bosh or the Miami bench to help them much. However, I still believe in LBJ and Wade. If it was 2-3-2, I'd say Heat in 6, but with the 2-2-1-1-1 format it will probably go 7. Heat 4-3 (but not as close as that makes it seem).
#3 Pacers against #6 Magic. Without Dwight Howard the Magic are pretty bad. It's tossup as to whether they get swept or take it to 5. I feel the need to pick one sweep, so this is it. Pacers 4-0.
#4 Celtics against #5 Hawks (Hawks with home-court). The Hawks are a solid team, and Joe Johnson is somewhat underrated due to being way overpaid. The Celtics, however, have been playing excellently. I still can't explain Garnett's turnaround from looking like a shell of himself earlier this season, but I'm certainly happy about it. If Ray-Ray is healthy and contributing I'd feel even better, but still feel pretty good. Celtics 4-2.
Western Conference
#1 Spurs against #8 Jazz. The Jazz are better than people give them credit for. They can score very well in the post, have a bunch of rebounders, and a solid backcourt. I just can't see them beating the cagey veteran Spurs, especially how the Spurs have been playing lately. Spurs close it out on the road, 4-2.
#2 Thunder against #7 Mavericks. The Mavs really didn't mount much of a title defense during the regular season, and I don't expect that they will in the playoffs. The Thunder still have some questions, but look quite good. The Harden situation could mess them up, but I expect that he'll be back to himself soon. Thunder 4-1.
#3 Lakers against #6 Nuggets. This really could go any way. Between Gasol and Bynum the Lakers could really control the boards, score a ton in the post, and defend the rim. On the other hand, Kobe could shoot them out of games, and they're pretty bad 5 thru 12. Losing Artest hurts quite a bit when the alternatives are so poor. Nuggets 4-2.
#4 Grizzlies against #5 Clippers. Another tough one. I think Chris Paul is the best PG in the game today, and Griffin is excellent. This is, however, Griffin's first playoff appearance, which is usually a rough experience for players, and Chris Paul has only managed to win one series in his career, for whatever that's worth. Add in Vinny as their coach, and how impressive the Grizzlies looked last year in the playoffs and just now to finish the regular season, and I have to pick them. Grizzlies 4-3.

Round 2: Conference Semi-Finals
Eastern Conference
#1 Bulls against #4 Celtics. As much as I want to pick the Celts, I think the Bulls will pull it off. Bulls 4-3.
#2 Heat against #3 Pacers. I don't think the Pacers have enough to do it. Heat 4-1.

Western Conference
#1 Spurs against #4 Grizzlies. Should be a great one. Leaning Spurs 4-3
#2 Thunder against #6 Nuggets. The Nuggets are good, the Thunder are better. Thunder 4-1.

Round 3: Conference Finals
Eastern Conference
#1 Bulls against #2 Heat. Another disappointing conference finals for Chicago. Heat 4-3.
Western Conference
#1 Spurs against #2 Thunder. I think the Thunder are ready to do it, less confident in the Spurs given their mileage. Thunder 4-2.

NBA Finals
Thunder with home-court against the Heat. Great matchup. Will probably change my mind on it a few times, but for now, Thunder 4-3.

My NBA season predictions in review

See my post here, and season results here. To sum it up, I nailed some picks (Boston, New York, LA Clippers, Memphis exactly right), and wildly whiffed on some (Charlotte, New Jersey, and Dallas I was way over, and San Antonio was way under). Average miss was 4.1. I think I'd take that in normal season; in a lockout-shortened seasoned, where Vegas didn't provide any over/under lines for me to check my initial predictions against before publishing, I'm very happy with the results.