That time of the NBA season has come around again, one of the most important events of the NBA… the playoffs. Sixteen teams make it, but there’s only going to be one to end up on top, popping champagne bottles, tasting sweet, sweet victory. The Warriors, Trailblazers, Clippers, Jazz, Rockets, Thunder, Spurs, Grizzlies, Celtics, Bulls, Wizards, Hawks, Raptors, Bucks, Cavaliers, and the Pacers all fighting for that ring. But which teams aren’t really living up to the hype?
5. Oklahoma City Thunder
Yes, The Thunder has Russell Westbrook, in which fans expect him to continue doing what he did during the regular season, which is realistic. Although, it’s the playoffs now, facing tougher teams, the intensity is up. The question isn’t will Westbrook show up…but will his team? Steven Adams and Enes Kanter is expected to perform well. What about the guards? Andre Roberson is a liability on offense, Victor Oladipo is very inconsistent, in who people thought he would fit in perfectly with the Thunder.
Westbrook’s triple double’s won’t carry the Thunder to a finals appearance, most likely not even past the first round against the Rockets who won three of four matchups in the regular season.
Prediction: 4-3 Rockets win
4. Portland Trail Blazers
If being honest, the Trail Blazers were a disappointment to watch this season, some people would even be satisfied if the Nuggets made the playoffs instead of them. There are a lot of eyes on Trailblazers after Damian Lillard’s comment, “Portland in six.” Which is very interesting due to the fact their team is the 8th seed and they’re facing the powerhouse Golden State Warriors.
With the talent on their team, Lillard, McCollum, Turner, Nurkic, Crabbe, and even Al-Farouq Aminu, you wouldn’t expect them to struggle to make the playoffs. Everybody knows how underrated and determine Damian Lillard is, so maybe that would fuel his gas in the playoffs, with C.J McCollum. Although down 0-1, maybe the trailblazers would be the first to four?
Prediction: 4-0 Warriors win
3. Los Angeles Clippers
Clippers have two top players on their team, and arguably the best duo, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. They have mid-tier players like Jamal Crawford, J.J. Reddick, one of the best rebounders in the league, DeAndre Jordan, veteran leadership, Paul Pierce. What else do they need to do? Win. The last few seasons, Clippers haven’t been able to get past the second round, and their time to do so is running out. Then again, those last few seasons it was either Chris Paul or Blake Griffin that was hurt, or both. Can they both stay healthy to stay in the playoffs?
If they beat the Jazz in the first round, they will have to play either Portland or Warriors, who both beat them in the playoffs seasons ago. It will be a very tough matchup for the Clippers.
Prediction: 4-2 Jazz wins
2. Atlanta Hawks
Trust and believe there is a chance that the Hawks might make the conference finals this season, although their chances are down due to the uprising of the Celtics and the Wizards turn down season, also losing Al Horford. Presuming they do make the conference finals… do they even stand a chance?
This season the Hawks aren’t a top two seed, and now we get to see where they really stand against a competitive team in the first round, the Wizards.
Prediction: 4-2 Wizards win
1. Toronto Raptors
Like the Hawks, the Raptors do have a chance of making the conference finals, considering anything can happen, especially in the Eastern Conference. Whenever playoff time comes, it’s less teams being watched, so more eyes on superstars, or players who suddenly turn a switch on in the playoffs that didn’t have one in the regular season.
DeMar never disappoints, although Kyle Lowry has. Whenever playoff times arises, Kyle Lowry disappears. In last season’s playoffs, Kyle Lowry did horrible, which made it easier for teams, like Cleveland, to take advantage of that. In the game one loss against the 6th seed Milwaukee Bucks, Kyle Lowry scored 4 points on 2-11 shooting, 0-6 from 3 point range, while DeMar DeRozan had 27 points on 7-21 shooting, 13-14 from FT. The way Kyle Lowry played on Saturday sure did bring back memories from last season.
Even though the Bucks have lost Jabari Parker due to an injury, they did get back Khris Middleton and are some people’s favorites to win the series. If Lowry doesn’t turn things around quick, things could get ugly.
Prediction: 4-3 Bucks win