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Royal Purple

Lucas Wimmer Blog: NBA Playoff Second-Round Predictions


May 7, 2014

By Lucas Wimmer

For as bad as this regular season has been, the first round of the NBA playoffs has been the polar opposite. In my 21 years, I have never seen a more exciting first round. It had what seemed like 500 overtime games and 250 game sevens with exciting play after exciting play. A Damian Lillard dagger, a 30-point closeout game from Kevin Durant and a block from what I can only assume is Paul Pierce from five years ago, somehow thrust through the space time continuum just in time to make Drake put on his sad puppy dog face and switch to a Brooklyn Nets sweatshirt.

If the fans are lucky, these next matchups will provide just as much entertainment.

Eastern Conference

(1)   Indiana v. (5) Washington

If there was one series I was most wrong about, it was the Bulls/Wizards series. I thought the pace and defense of the Bulls could slow down the young and energetic Wizards. Instead, the Bulls offense looked like a bad high school team, and the Wizards’ young guns in Bradley Beal and John Wall showed us they are one of the top four backcourts in the league. Indiana, on the other hand, struggled mightily with the Hawks, and Roy Hibbert showed us he’s actually a 7-foot-tall city-issued trash can. My theory on what happened to Hibbert is that when LeBron elbowed him, he knocked any semblance of fine motor skills clean out of his head. The Pacers were basically a really long lowlight reel, and were lucky to escape from the Atlanta series (a team who was below .500 on the season) with a victory. I just cannot see them turning it around in time to get a win. They would need giant performances from Paul George and Lance Stephenson, and someone to neutralize Marcin Gortat’s offense inside (looking at you, Hibbert). Nene is big enough and strong enough to body anyone they try to use inside, as long as he is not putting anyone in wrestling moves.

Washington in 6.

(2)   Miami v. (6) Brooklyn

Miami, as expected by most, cruised through the first-round series with the Bobcats. It was the only sweep of the first round, which is a big advantage for Miami. Their biggest challenge in getting to the finals is the fatigue of repeat championship seasons, and some time off waiting for every other series to go to seven games definitely helped them. The Nets continued to play some of their best basketball against a spirited Raptors squad in a series that came down to the last second. If Deron Williams comes out of his mini-slump, the Nets could pose a problem for the Heat. If Williams and Johnson are hot on offense, they could keep up offensively with the Heat. Andrei Kirilenko and Mason Plumlee are defending well inside, and they have a revamped Shaun Livingston, who is talented enough defensively to guard Mario Chalmers and Dwyane Wade, and long enough to slide down into the forward spot and guard LeBron. These are big ifs, though, and Miami looked very good in their first series.

Miami in 5.


Western Conference

(1)   San Antonio v. (5) Portland

For this series, the Trail Blazers’ hopes will rest squarely on LaMarcus Aldridge’s shoulders. At first, I was positive this was a better matchup for Tim Duncan, but after thinking on it, I am not so sure. Aldridge proved how dangerous he was in the first round. It’s so hard to guard him because he can post you up and drive on you, or he can face up and hit his jumper at an alarming rate. Tony Parker is pretty sound defensively, and is most likely going to make Lillard more ineffective than he was in the first round, and the Trail Blazers don’t really have another reliable scorer. The Spurs, especially in the last couple games of the series, showed how technically sound they still are, and how effective they can be despite their age. Tim Duncan is still going to eat fortified bran flakes for breakfast and postpone his bedtime by eight hours so he can cook you on defense and drop a quiet 25 every game. If the Spurs keep up what they did in the last few games, they will be a tough out.

San Antonio in 7

(2)   Oklahoma City v. (3) Los Angeles

By far my most accurate prediction last round was that the Golden State/Los Angeles series would be the most entertaining. I wish they could play a seven-game series every week forever. The Clippers did end up victorious for good reason, though. Chris Paul looked great, Blake Griffin showed his expanded midrange game on top of his usual act of making the hoop look like it’s set at seven feet and Jamal Crawford justified his Sixth Man of the Year award. Things looked bleak for Oklahoma City toward the beginning of the series. Tony Allen completely took Kevin Durant out of the first few games, and that forced Russell Westbrook to take a lot more shots than he should have. Four straight went into overtime, which gave Scott Brooks the perfect platform to showcase his true coaching ineptitude. Oklahoma City looked great in the last couple games, but it did not help the Grizzlies case that Zach Randolph was suspended. This will be another tough series for a gassed Thunder Squad. Matt Barnes is no Tony Allen, but he’s a good, long defender who can help keep Kevin Durant from blowing the roof off the building most nights. This will be another exciting series, and will probably go down to the last minute, but I can’t see the Thunder pulling this one out with Brooks at the helm. The Based God’s Curse continues its reign.

Los Angeles in 7.

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Lucas Wimmer Blog: NBA Playoff Second-Round Predictions