Round 1 is over and Round 2 has begun! It was a pretty good first round too. Before I get to Round 2, I'll just make some quick notes about the games I got wrong and what surprised me.
- I didn't expect Denver to get handled like they did by Golden State. Golden State played Denver's style of basketball and beat them at it. Denver couldn't stop them, couldn't slow them down, and couldn't even out score them. I'm sure Denver will be back next season fully healthy and ready to go.
- The Clippers lack of size and offensive efficiency came back to bite them. DeAndre Jordan proved to be a liability on offense and on defense. Last season, Reggie Evans and Kenyon Martin had the size to go up against Gasol and Randolph. 1 year later, both those guys are gone and Gasol and Randolph dominate the paint. Clippers threw everything and still couldn't stop them. They have a lot to look at in the offseason.
- I wasn't too surprised Boston and Miami went 6 games. I knew Boston was gonna get it together, but I never thought they would ultimately win the series. If they had Rondo, it'd be a different story, but it showed that without Rondo, the offense doesn't flow very well.
- Heat and Spurs advance easily. Called those two.
- I wasn't surprised the Nets lost, but I was surprised at how good this series was. 7 games and a great 3 OT game. Playoff basketball at its best.
- OKC will miss Westbrook. They were lucky to beat Houston. I was worried about them once Houston beat them in OKC in Game 5. I'll explain more about Westbook in the OKC/Memphis breakdown.
Onto my Round 2 Predictions!
(1) Miami Heat vs (5) Chicago Bulls
I hate to say this, but I feel sorry for The Bulls. An injured Bulls squad goes 7 games against a young team like Brooklyn and only get 1 day off before starting their second round series against The Miami Heat. Derrick Rose is still not playing, and now Luol Deng is out. This Bulls team cannot catch a break. I don't think they stand much of chance against Miami.
I don't know if rust will play a factor, but I think Miami will still come out and play at a high level, no doubt about that. That team is extremely lethal on both sides of the ball. A lot of people have complained about how easy the Heat have it. First the Bucks, now an injured Bulls team, but you can't control what happens in the playoffs. We already know how good Miami is. Their offense is very energetic and streaky, and powerful. Their defense is underrated cause fans know Miami for their offense. Their defense isn't that bad. #7 during the season and #2 in the playoffs right now.
The Bulls need a lot of help to pull this one off. If Derrick Rose was actually playing, I give them a shot, but I think The Bulls drew a bad match here. Joakim Noah has emerged as one of my favorite players in these playoffs. Playing with an injured foot, his energy is amazing, and his playmaking ability keeps rising. I always liked Noah, but these playoffs made me like him even more. He's going to be key against The Heat. Nate Robinson has to have some big shooting nights too. I think he can outplay Mario Chalmers and attack the basket better. Boozer is hot and cold. He'll have nights where he plays great on both sides of the ball and then there's nights where you forget he's on the court. Like I said in their series against Brooklyn, they have consistent playmakers, but it comes down to which Bulls team shows up.
If The Bulls play as hard as they did in the Brooklyn series, they can make this a 6 game series, but The Heat are a much different breed. Their offense is better, their bench is better, and they play better defense. I'm not gonna count the Bulls out, but Miami is just too good and The Bulls are too hurt.
Showstopper Prediction: Miami Heat in 5 games
(2) New York Knicks vs (3) Indiana Pacers
I realize I'm a little late on this, but I'm here now. We saw in the first round that the Knicks had nights where they struggled on offense and just couldn't buy a bucket. And Boston's defense wasn't even that great. They just couldn't make consistent shots. But now, they're playing a whole different beast. Despite that first round 6 game series against The Hawks, the Pacers are still a solid team from top to bottom. The Knicks live and die by the 3 point shot and unfortunately for them, The Pacers have the best overall defense and best defense against the 3 point shot. You saw it yesterday. The Pacers took advantage of their matchups, got easy baskets in the paint, killed the Knicks on the boards, and made more three pointers than the Knicks themselves.
I just think it's a bad matchup for New York, but they can adjust. Chandler hasn't done much and Hibbert crashed the boards. Hibbert isn't a great offensive presence, but he and Chandler will be fighting down low for those boards. It'll be up to Chandler to rise to the occasion and actually show up. The Knicks have a slight advantage in the backcourt. I think George Hill is a better shooter than Felton, but Felton is quicker and streaky. It's gonna be good seeing them go at it more. Paul George is going to have to show up against Melo cause when he gets hot, he won't miss. David West is going to be key as well. His size and getting good looks will be pivotal for the Pacers.
The Knicks defense is average, but the only they can beat teams is to outscore them. The Pacers have a habit of being hot and cold. Take the Hawks series for example, they have shown that they have nights where they can't knock down consistent shots and struggle on defense as well. The Knicks will have to adjust and learn from what Indiana did to them in Game 1. The Knicks need to get better offensively. They can't solely depend on the 3 point shot. They need to get more points in the paint and need to attack the basket more. Also, their bench needs to produce too. I think it'll be a LONG series for New York. Pacers already lead 1-0. The Knicks need to steal 1 game in Indiana because the Pacers are very good at home.
Showstopper Prediction: Indiana Pacers in 6 games
(1) Oklahoma City Thunder vs (4) Memphis Grizzlies
Let me start off by saying that the loss of Russell Westbrook is so HUGE. What people don't understand is that yea Kevin Durant is the best player on the team, but Westbrook creates the offense. He's a playmaker and brings stability and energy to that OKC offense. He's the second superstar and the second scoring option. That's a really big hit to this team. That being said, while they're still trying to adjust to not having Westbrook, I think this is a bad matchup for them. It showed in Game 1 when OKC struggled to knock down consistent shots. It had more to do with the Memphis defense, but still.
Reggie Jackson has come on and has produced, but he's no Westbrook. Kevin Durant is going to have to carry a bulk of the work in this series. He's gonna need some help. This is where a guy like Kevin Martin shows why he was given all that money and replaced James Harden. He's going to have to come up big in this series if OKC wants to advance. It's gonna be tough for Perkins and Ibaka to not only score, but defend the tag team of Gasol and Randolph. Randolph can shoot and can dominate and get easy points in the paint. Gasol is just an overall great athlete. The Grizzlies front court is just too damn good. OKC is going to have to figure out a way to stop guys Conley and Pondexter and the other Memphis shooters. Maybe move Thabo over and cover Conley. He's a good defender and can cause problems for Conley. Either way, OKC will have to be efficient on offense. Reggie Jackson will have to make plays, Kevin Martin has to show up, and Durant need to be Durant.
The Grizzlies have a chance to beat this team. They have the defense to stop OKC. Without Westbrook, it should be easier to stop them now. Gasol and Randolph will have their way getting points in the paint. They still have one of the best defenses in the league and are great at perimeter defense and playing the ball. The only problem I see with Memphis is that they aren't very efficient on offense. They rely so much on their defense that sometimes they struggle to score consistent points. If Memphis can steal Game 2, they have a chance to win the series, because these guys are a very different team at home. Their energy level is off the charts and they just flat out play a better style of basketball at home. Simply put, they're very good at home.
This is a series that can go 7 games. OKC was lucky to escape with that win in Game 1 with Durant's clutch shot. OKC will have to adjust because I guarantee Memphis won't blow that kind of lead again. OKC's playmakers are going to have to show up and try to score on Memphis' stingy defense. This is gonna be a good series. Memphis has a shot to win this in 6 games. But if it comes down to a Game 7 in OKC, I don't think Memphis can pull it off.
Showstopper Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder in 7 games
(2) San Antonio Spurs vs (6) Golden State Warriors
A lot of people are saying that this is gonna be an interesting series, but I don't know. I have a newfound respect for The Warriors after eliminating The Nuggets by playing their style of basketball. And I can admit that I underestimated them. The Nuggets had no defense to stop them, couldn't hit consistent shots and were just outplayed by Golden State. So, kudos to them, but I think the buck stops here.
David Lee will play, but it'll only be for a couple minutes. Who knows how healthy that hip is. Stephen Curry will have his hands full with Tony Parker, but I believe he'll get his. Thompson will struggle, but he'll get his points too. Jarrett Jack will need some efficiency off the bench. The bigs will have a tough time down low as well. The Warriors need to run and gun and force the Spurs to play their game and more importantly, they need to get HOT from down town. The best 3 point shooting team in the league will have one or two of those hot shooting nights. If The Spurs try to play Warriors basketball, it's gonna turn out too well. The Spurs have had some games where they get out and run too, but the Warriors are more efficient at that style of basketball.
I believe The Spurs frontcourt can outplay The Warriors frontcourt. Andrew Bogut has always been a stud, but it's gonna be a big change going from a gimpy Kenneth Faried and Javale McGee to a seasoned veteran like Tim Duncan. I think The Spurs will have success with points in the paint with their bigs. The Spurs aren't the best defensive team, but they still play good defensive basketball when they have to. They're just so efficient playing half court basketball. They make great passes and always find somebody open downtown, whether it's Ginobli, Danny Green, Matt Bonner, Kawhi Leonard, or even Gary Neal. They have a talent of making that extra pass to get the shot off. Tiago Splitter has been known to have good offensive nights and is an average defender. Needless to say, The Spurs are one of the deepest teams left in the playoffs.
What I like about The Spurs is that they force you to play their style of basketball. Like last year against The Clippers. No high flying, lob city stuff. They slowed that down and forced the Clippers to beat them in half court basketball and they couldn't do it. Hence why they got swept. The Spurs are extremely efficient in the half court set, and I don't think The Warriors are better at half court basketball than The Spurs are. That's what it'll come down to. I wouldn't be surprised if Golden State wins the series because the Spurs have been so hot and cold, but The Spurs are too good.
Showstopper Prediction: San Antonio Spurs in 6 games
There you have it! My Round 2 Predictions. Should see a lot of good basketball. I'll be back once Round 2 is over and break down the Eastern and Western Conference Finals!
Feel free to Comment.
By: Gerald "Showstopper" Prophete