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Playoffs?! Yup, playoffs. The ides of April are approaching and with it the NBA Playoffs when pro basketball takes center stage. This year the storylines range from will the Cavs survive the East to can anyone really beat Golden State and the late breaking, who the heck is Edy Tavares? Here’s a quick preview of what’s about to go down with some predictions thrown in.
The Cavs finished the regular season losing 6 of their last 10 games. They didn’t really seem to care too much about keeping the # 1 seed, resting LeBron and Kyrie (and Tristan Kardashian) against the Heat on Monday. Did LeBron want to throw the Heat a bone as they were fighting for their playoff lives (which could help keep the Bulls out of the playoffs)? Or do we obsess a little too much, over reading into the actions of big time sports figures?
There was the debacle in Atlanta where they let a 26 point lead dissipate in a loss to a team that was nearly in danger of falling out of the playoffs. Cavs nation is wondering if anyone besides LeBron cares about winning a chip this year while naysayers (what they called “haters” in the 1800’s) across the country are licking their chops at the Cavs failing.
But really how important is the 1 seed? Do we really think any team would be favored against Cleveland in the Eastern Conference finals? Do we really think any team in the East is going to take the Cavs to 7 games? That would sorta render Boston’s home court advantage obsolete.
I am surprised the Cavs didn’t end up with the first seed but I don’t think it means anything for the playoffs. They may have struggled more than I expected at the beginning of the season, but they’ll make the right adjustments and coast through. It could go 6 games in the conference finals, but that’s what happened last year too.
Edy “Julian” Tavares is a 25 year old 7’3” dude from Cape Verde. His Wikipedia page says he started playing basketball at 17 and was discovered by a German tourist on vacation.
Time for an informal poll: Was this German tourist:
A. Dirk Nowitzki
B. Angela Merkel
C. David Hasselhoff
The Cavs cut Larry Sanders (the replacement for the injured Andrew Bogut) and signed Tavares presumably for his massive size along with bringing back Dahntay Jones. In his Cavs debut on Wednesday, he had 6 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 blocks in 24 minutes. Not bad but definitely too small a sample size. Tavares may hardly play in the playoffs or only very situationally. Or he could become an instant fan favorite and be a strong defensive presence for when they face the Jazz in the Finals.
Each of the last 3 seasons has been the Golden State Show. It's been all about the Warriors and trying to take them down. Adding the 2nd or 3rd best basketball player in the world (also the 225th most respected NBA player) has raised the stakes for everyone else. The Warriors are the overwhelming favorites and they should be. They aren't setting the regular season on fire like last year but they have been pretty incredible at times during this season. And they're only going to get better.
Western Conference Playoff Predictions
1. Golden State (67-15) v. 8. Portland (41-41)
It will be fun to see Dame Lillard go off in this series but the drama here is that Chance the Rapper has a concert scheduled at Oracle Arena in Oakland the same night as a possible Game 5. Warriors in 5
2. San Antonio (61-21) v. 7. Memphis (43-39)
The Spurs have the 2nd best record in the league and because they're the Spurs, a shot at taking down King Curry. They're playing the definition of grit in these Memphis Grizzlies who've struggled through injuries and the quickly regressing Chandler Parsons to be in the playoffs. Not for long. Spurs in 5
3. Houston (55-27) v. 6. Oklahoma City (47-35)
The 2 most bandied about names for MVP throughout this season have been James Harden and Russell Westbrook. So apropros that they will face each other in the playoffs. It's a fitting end to the season long battle these two have had. Harden wins the series and it'll make up for him losing the MVP to "Brodie" on June 26th. Rockets in 6
4. L.A. Clippers (51-31) v. Utah (51-31)
Both these teams are coming in kinda hot. The Jazz have surprised many by finding themselves as the 5 seed and the Clippers have disappointed for much of the year. Their window is closing soon and they might lose both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. Rudy Gobert for Utah will be fun to watch but Gordon Hayward isn't enough. Clippers in 6
Eastern Conference Playoff Predictions
1. Boston (53-29) v. 8. Chicago (41-41)
The surprise #1 seed Celtics have been good this year and they're going up against a fairly dysfunctional Bulls team. The Celtics should be able to handle them easily much like during Jordan's early years. Celtics in 4
2. Cleveland (51-31) v. 7. Indiana (42-40)
Paul George, future Lakers superstar, has a conundrum we all wish we had. If he makes the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd All-NBA teams, he is in line for a contract with the Pacers of over $200 million, about $70 million more than what another team can offer. Does he stay for that or go home to L.A. where they're better suited to winning titles? It will be fun to watch him and Lance Stephenson give the Cavs trouble but Cleveland has this. Cavs in 5
3. Toronto (51-31) v. 6. Milwaukee (42-40)
It's all about watching Giannis in the playoffs. Think of how quickly the Bucks can be really good if Jabari Parker and Khris Middleton can stay healthy while Thon Maker continues to emerge. The Raps should win but thankfully more of the world will know about Giannis! I predict he'll be bigger than Yanni one day. Raptors in 6
4. Washington (49-33) v. 5. Atlanta (43-39)
This series has NBATV written all over it. They might as well show the games at 3pm on weekdays. Dwight Howard should be annoying and the Wizards should roll. Wizards in 5
In the second round.....
I'm looking forward to the Clippers and the Warriors. The Clippers at 100% can cause some trouble for Golden State but I see Curry and company moving on to the Western Finals against San Antone.
In the East, I'm predicting John Wall and the Wizards to upset the Celtics before falling to the Cavs in the ECF. And then the trilogy will resume between G State and Believeland. And I'll stick with my preseason prediction of the Cavs winning because in LeBron you have to trust.