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Welcome to Pencilstorm’s 2015 NBA Playoff preview. What follows is a brief (and snarky) overview of each playoff series, ending with my pick to win. Personally, I don’t get the big deal about picking how many games a series will go, but as they say, give the people what they want. I separated by Conference and then in order of the series that were least appealing to most appealing. Please feel free to comment below and follow me @bengalli33 . The NBA Playoffs are FAN-TAS-TIC!
Game of Spurs - Westerosi Conference
I’m starting with the superior Western Conference. Golden State had one of the most impressive seasons in recent memory but the West is all about overcoming the Spurs. Golden State may be a growing force but the Spurs just find ways to prevail. Very Daenerys Targaryen pitted against the Lannisters. This could be San Antone's last run with Timmy. So once again, starting with least appealing.....
#2 Houston Rockets vs. #7 Dallas Mavericks
There’s a lot of storylines in this series but I’m just not very moved by either team. Dirk’s an all time great but I don’t really see this team contending. Harden can be fun to watch but the rest of the Rockets are a charisma vacuum. The Mavs do have 2, maybe 3 guys that have the ability to carry them for a game in Dirk, Rondo, and Monta but they’re not at the point where they can do it for a whole series. I think the Rockets handle Mark Cuban’s team easily even with some simmering bad blood between them. Rockets in 5.
#1 Golden State Warriors vs. #8 New Orleans Pelicans
Steph Curry plays basketball the way we all dreamed we could as kids. The probable MVP has really cemented himself this year as must-watch TV. The Warriors have a lot of talent and a coach that seemingly gets it, but they are young and untested. Even though they won 21 of their last 25 games this season, Golden State's knock is their youth and inexperience even though this is their 3rd straight trip to the playoffs. Coming up against the best record in the NBA is The Brow, Anthony Davis, and the no-expectations-having Pelicans. The best part about this series is that many more fans across the country get to watch Anthony Davis play. Maybe he’ll make this series interesting but it’s not likely. Warriors come out to play. Warriors in 5.
#4 Portland Trail Blazers vs. # 5 Memphis Grizzlies
This series features 2 flawed but pretty solid teams. I’m interested in seeing how Memphis does in the playoffs since they were considered a contender by some prior to and during this season. They play tough defense but can struggle to score at times. No lie, it is fun to watch Vince Carter ball out here and there. Also want to give a tip of the hat to Mike Conley Jr. who has really evolved as a player into a bona fide NBA star after his one year at Ohio State (2015 National Champions!). Portland has the ultra exciting Dame Lillard but was also swept in 4 regular season match-ups with Memphis. Who would you root for? The music &d soul of Memphis or the hipsters of Portland? Grizzlies in 6.
#3 Los Angeles Clippers vs. #6 San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs are on fire. They finished the season winning 21 of their last 25 by an average margin of victory of 16.4 points. That run included 14 games against playoff teams. This is a annual thing now for the Spurs who seemingly turn it on whenever they want to. Every year we get older and the Spurs stay the same age. A win last Wednesday against the Pels would have sealed them a #2 seed. As it stands, their loss dropped them to the #6 seed and lost them home court advantage most likely for the entire playoffs. They are going up against a formidable opponent in Chris Paul’s Clippers squad. Paul had a great season, De Jordan is a force inside, and Blake Griffin is still Blake Griffin, mediocre Kia spokesperson. Even with a championship-winning coach and some interesting pieces, it’s difficult to go against the defending champs if only because they’ve earned that respect. Spurs in 7.
Cavs N’ Roses
The Eastern Conference is the Chinese Democracy Guns N’ Roses lineup and the Western Conference is their Appetite For Destruction lineup. With due respect to Atlanta’s wonderful season, the East is going to see Lebron’s Cavs or Rose’s Bulls as it’s Finals participant. Hopefully Bulls fans don't regret Rose coming back from yet another knee injury too quickly while Lebron looks to make a rarely seen 5th Finals appearance in a row.
#4 Toronto Raptors vs. # 5 Washington Wizards
Which Wizards team will show up? The Wizards started off really well this year but also have a 13-15 record since the All-Star Break. They have some talent but their coaching has been questioned. The Raptors are in Toronto, which is in Canada, and it is true people in the states don’t give a shit about 'em. Drake being their superfan probably doesn’t help either. I don’t know if Rob Ford hurts or helps. The bigger concern is that they were a tad worse than Washington with a 13-16 record post Break. I like John Wall and I'm going Bullets on this one. Wizards in 7.
#1 Atlanta Hawks vs. #8 Brooklyn Nets
I’m mainly interested in this series for 2 reasons. I want to see what Joe Johnson can do. He has the ability to carry a team for an entire series but how close is he to 100 percent?* And I want to see if this Hawks team is for real. History says no but you can’t count out a Popovich disciple and the concept of good team basketball. Although you don’t hear of Spurs players out at clubs at four in the morning altercating with the Po-Po, the Hawks will survive Round 1. Hawks in 5.
* This is a boldfaced lie, Joe Johnson only carries bags of money.
#3 Chicago Bulls vs. #6 Milwaukee Bucks
The 6th seed in the East is 41-41 and the 6th seed in the West is 55-27. The West's 6th seed would be the #2 in the East. It's just gotten embarrassing. This series is interesting because Chicago remains a major player in this conference and this guy named Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Greek Freak, remains set to be a major player in the NBA for years to come. Much like Anthony Davis in New Orleans, I’m looking forward to the casual fan getting a glimpse of his magnificent play. I think Milwaukee lacks the playoff seasoning but Jason Kidd appeared to vastly improve as a coach. Remember the Bucks did this after losing the #2 pick in last year’s draft for more than 2/3rd’s of the season. Fear the Deer Next Year but not this one. Bulls in 5.
#2 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. #7 Boston Celtics
Some of LeBron's biggest series have been with the Celtics even back from his first Cavs days. These are not those Celtics. There's probably not a Hall of Famer in this bunch, but these guys are gamers and Brad Stevens is really starting to make a name for himself. I still think his boyish presentation enhances the credit he gets - which may be unfair - but the Boy Wonder had a Celtics team many expected to tank in the 7th spot, albeit in the East. It'll be fun to root for former OSU stars Sully & ET, and Isaiah Thomas is a baller but I can't see this being much of a challenge for the Cavs. I'm more interested in the wear and tear on LeBron and this being KLove's first playoff series. LeBron hasn't rested this many minutes in the regular season in a long time and Love better learn fast if he's expected to be a major contributor on a championship team. Cavs will be all business in this first round because the series everyone wants to see in the East is looming. Cavs in 4.