Saturday, April 15, 2017

2017 NBA Playoffs - Who Will Win The NBA Championship?

Can LeBron James lead the Cavs to back to back NBA Championships?

It's time for the NBA Playoffs! 

The NBA Playoffs is one of my favorite times of the year! The top 16 teams in the league face off in a best of 7 game series to see who will be crowned the NBA Champion.

Last year, the Cleveland Cavaliers were able to come back from a 3 to 1 deficit to win the NBA Championship. 

Who is going to win this year? Let's take a look at the brackets and find out!

New addition this year: I now include the Vegas odds for each team to win the NBA championship. Just in case you aren't familiar with how Vegas odds works, it works like this. If the odds have a minus that's the amount of money you have to bet to win $100 (i.e -150 means you need to bet $150 to win $100). If the odds have a plus, that's the amount of money that you WIN if you bet $100 (i.e. +150 means if you bet $100 you win $150)

Eastern Conference Playoffs

1) Boston Celtics (+1600)
vs
8) Chicago Bulls (+25000)

This is not a typical 1 vs 8 series. This Chicago Bulls team is loaded with a good combination of talent plus playoff tested championship veteran experience. They also match up very well against the Celtics. The Bulls rebound well. The Celtics do not. The old Rajon Rondo is back and Dwayne Wade is recovered.

However, in the end, the Celtics simply have more talent and more depth. This is going to be a long series but I see the Celtics pulling it out in the end.

Prediction - Celtics In 7

2) Cleveland Cavaliers (+333)
vs
7) Indiana Pacers (+25000)

The Cavaliers looked really bad towards the end of the season. So bad that they ended up giving up the number one seed and home court advantage throughout the playoffs. However, we know that this team knows how to turn it on when necessary and this is no exception.

Paul George is a tremendous 2 way talent and he's good enough to help this Pacers team steal a game, maybe even 2 from the defending champions. However, there's no way this Pacers team is stopping LeBron James and company.

Prediction - Cavs in 5

3) Toronto Raptors (+3300)
vs 
6) Milwaukee Bucks (+25000)

I'm really looking forward to watching this series! I think this might be one of the best series in the first round! You have the Toronto Raptors, who were good enough to make it to the Eastern Conference finals last year taking on a young and very talented Milwaukee Bucks team. 

The Raptors picking up Serge Ibaka and PJ Tucker makes them even better than they were last year. However, Ginnas Antetokoumpo is a legitimate star emerging into a superstar and this Bucks team will not go down without a fight.

Prediction - Raptors in 7

4) Washington Wizards (+4000)
vs 
5) Atlanta Hawks (+25000)

Even though this is a 4 vs 5 seed, I feel like the Wizards should be able to handle the Hawks with no problems. The Hawks are a good team, when they actually play good. However, they are also very inconsistent. The Wizards are one of the hottest teams in the NBA right now. They are peaking at the right time and while I don't expect this series to be a walk through the park, I do expect John Wall an Bradley Beal to carry this team to the next round.

Prediction - Wizards in 6

1) Boston Celtics (+1600)
vs
4) Washington Wizards (+4000)

This is another series that I'm really looking forward to. Both of these teams have high powered offenses with star players that can score at will. The Wizards have even more depth than the Bulls off the bench. 

I think either one of these teams are capable of beating the other in a 7 game series. In the regular season each team won on its home court so I believe this is going to come down to the home court advantage. Which the Celtics have, so I'm going to take the Celtics in this one.

Prediction - Celtics in 7

2) Cleveland Cavaliers (+333)
vs
3) Toronto Raptors (+3300)

Here we have a rematch of the Eastern Conference finals last year. The Toronto Raptors have definitely made some upgrades. They are a much tougher defensive team in the front court and they while they can't stop LeBron James, they can at least slow him down from just having his way driving to the paint at will.

The problem is the Cavaliers have gotten better too, particularly with the ability to bring Deron Williams and Kyle Krover off the bench. This Cavs team has more depth than the one they had last year that won the championship. When you combine that with the fact that the Raptors didn't play well in Cleveland last year, that is a cause for pause on how far this team can go.

Prediction - Cavaliers in 6

1) Boston Celtics (+1600)
vs 
2) Cleveland Cavaliers (+333)

I really thought this was going to be a good series and it still may be. However, that last game they played really exposed the Celtics. The Cavaliers just manhandled the Celtics and demolished them. They really sent a message to them that when they want to turn it on they can have their way with this team. 

The other problem is I'm predicting the Celtics to have a really tough road to get to the Eastern Conference finals. Whereas, I'm expecting the Cavs road to be a little easier. When you factor all of that in, I expect the Cavaliers to win pretty easily.

Prediction - Cavaliers in 5

Western Conference Playoffs

1) Golden State Warriors (-160)
vs
8) Portland Trailblazers (+30000)

The Golden State Warriors should have no problems advancing past this team. When you have two of the top 5 players in the world both starting for your team, that's all you need to know about how good your team actually is. They also swept this Blazer team in the regular season, although the last two games were close. The other thing you have to keep in mind is that none of these games featured the Trailblazers new big man Jusuf Nurkic

The Blazers have three players who are really good in Damion Lillard, C.J. McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic. Unfortunately, Nurkic is injured and his status for game 1 is yet to be determined. I can see this team winning a game at home, but that's about it.

Prediction - Warriors in 5

2) San Antonio Spurs (+600)
vs
7) Memphis Grizzlies (+15000)

I think the Grizzlies would be capable of an upset if they faced any other team than the Spurs. The problem with the Spurs is that they are better than the Grizzlies in all of the areas that the Grizzlies are good at. The Grizzlies are a good defensive team. The Spurs are a better defensive team. The Grizzlies are a tough 3 point shooting team when they are hitting their shots. The Spurs are the best 3 point shooting team in the league.

The Grizzlies are much better on the injury front this year than they were last year. Add that to the fact that they were able to get 2 games against the Spurs in the regular season and I think they can get a game in the playoffs. However, if you think this team is upsetting the Spurs in a 7 game series, you probably also still believe in the Easter Bunny!

Prediction - Spurs in 5

3) Houston Rockets (+1600)
vs 
6) Oklahoma City Thunder (+6600)

What more can you ask for than getting to see the two men who are most likely to win the Most Valuable Player award battle it out in the first round? Do not be deceived by the Rockets 3-1 regular series record against the Thunder. Those were ALL close games and I fully expect this to be a very close hard fought series.

The Thunder have the same problem that the Grizzlies have. What they are good at (fast paced run and gun offense) the Rockets are better at. 'Antoni teams (I removed the D because his teams don't play any defense) are notorious for lots of 3 point shooting. That makes the offense explosive when they are hitting but sluggish when they aren't. Harden and Westbrook both turn the ball over a lot as well, so that can open up opportunities for both teams. In the end though, I like the Rockets. They just have way too many weapons, whereas the Thunder just have one nuclear bomb in Westbrook.

Prediction - Rockets in 7

4) Los Angeles Clippers (+5000)
vs
5) Utah Jazz (+6600)

ESPN has this series as the 2nd highest series most likely to end in an upset and with good reason too. Both of these teams finished with identical records. The Clippers have the star power both in coach (Doc Rivers) as well as in their Big 3 of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. However, they definitely underperformed in the regular season. Going into the regular season they were suppose to be one of two teams who could potentially knock off Golden State. The Rockets took that from them and they BARELY squeezed by with the 4th seed.

The Jazz play the slowest pace in the NBA and if they can force their pace on the Clippers, they can cause them problems. There's always at least one upset in the 1st round and if you notice I haven't picked any upsets as of yet. That means its time to pick my upset and I'm picking the Utah Jazz to knock off the Los Angeles Clippers.

Prediction - Jazz in 7

1) Golden State Warriors (-160)
vs
5) Utah Jazz (+6600)

The Golden State Warriors match up very well against the Jazz. Their high paced offense is usually explosive enough to overwhelm the Jazz as you can see when you look at the fact that the Warriors have won 7 out of the last 8 games these teams have played. The formula for the Jazz beating the Warriors is simple. They must get the lead, defend the 3 and grab rebounds.

Even though the Jazz were able to take one game this season using the very formula I just described, I don't see that happening in the playoffs. The Warriors are just too talented and too good. I expect them to make quick work of this Jazz team.

Prediction - Warriors in 4

2) San Antonio Spurs (+600)
vs
3) Houston Rockets (+1600)

When these two teams played each other in the regular season they were all very close games. However, the Spurs won 3 out of 4 and it all comes down to 3 point shooting defense. Consider the following number...

29.2%

That's the Rockets three point shooting percentage this season against the Spurs. The Rockets normally shoot 35.7%. Mind you the Spurs are also the best three point shooting team in the league. It will be a close hard fought series just like in the regular season. However in the end, I expect the Spurs to come out on top.

Prediction - Spurs in 7

1) Golden State Warriors (-160)
vs
2) San Antonio Spurs (+600)

If there is any team that is capable of stopping the Golden State Warriors it is the San Antonio Spurs. They blew them out twice in the regular season and it took the Warriors 3 quarters just to get the lead in the game that they won. To be fair, one of the games both teams rested their starters so there's that.
There aren't too many people in the league that can shut down Kevin Durant. However, one of the players who can plays for the Spurs and his name is Kawhi Leonard.

The Golden State Warriors though are still the most talented team in the NBA. What makes that Durant signing so huge is that even if Leonard can shut down Durant, you still have to deal with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. That's a lot to ask even if you have arguably the greatest coach in NBA history.

Prediction - Warriors in 7

NBA Finals

1) Golden State Warriors (-160)
vs
2) Cleveland Cavaliers (+333)

This will be the third time these two teams met in the NBA finals. You have the video game cheat code Warriors who are completely stacked going up against the undisputed best player in the world right now in LeBron James. If there was any doubt how good James is, let me give you a little reminder...


Obviously the Warriors team this year is power packed with talent. The Cavaliers added more depth though on their bench picking up Kyle Krover and Deron Williams. They also pulled off the unthinkable last year, coming back from 3 to 1 to defeat a 73 win Warriors team.

However, even with the best player in the world, I think it's a little too much to expect the Cavs to defeat this team. There is a reason why the Warriors are the ONLY team that have negative odds to win the NBA championship. They are really that talented and really that good. Unless an injury or suspension occurs, I fully expect the Golden State Warriors to win another NBA Championship.

Prediction - Warriors in 6


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