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Who Will Win the 2018 NBA Playoffs?

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Western Conference First round:

1st seeded Houston Rockets vs 8th seeded Minnesota Timberwolves

Prediction: Rockets win the series 4-1

The Rockets come into the playoffs with the best record in the NBA with 65 wins and winning 7 of the last 10 games. They have the league’s best offense thanks to their incredible three-point percentage during their wins this season at 37.2%. The Wolves should get one win at home due to the fact that it has been 14 years since they’ve made the playoffs and they will try their hardest to get at least one win for their fans. But after that one win, the Rockets will be a juggernaut that is on a mission to get to the finals.

2nd seeded Golden State Warriors vs 7th seeded San Antonio Spurs

Prediction: Warriors win the series 4-2.

The Warriors have been the best team in the past 4 seasons with 2 former MVPs and 4 all-stars. The only reason for their struggles this year is injury after injury to their top players. Although their 2 time MVP Stephen Curry is not playing in any of these games, the Spurs best player, Kawhi Leonard will also not be playing in any of these games. Lucky for the Warriors they still have Kevin Durant one of the most dominant scorers in NBA history. The only reason the Spurs will win 2 games is that they have their Legendary coach Gregg Popovich. He knows how to win tough games, but he won’t be able to win the series without the defensive presence of Kawhi Leonard.

3rd seeded Portland Trail Blazers vs 6th seeded New Orleans Pelicans

Prediction: Blazers win the series 4-2.

The Trail Blazers have 49 wins under their belt thanks to their star players Damian Lillard who is averaging 27 points per game and CJ McCollum is averaging 21 points per game. The Pelicans don’t have any guards who play defense well enough to stop these two. But they will win two games because they have an MVP candidate in Anthony Davis who is playing on another level this year who is averaging 28 points per game 11 rebounds per game to go along with his outstanding  2.6 blocks per game. Unfortunately, he is only one player and can’t win the series by himself. The Pelicans lost their all-star center Demarcus Cousins with a season-ending Achilles injury. Who knows what could’ve happened if he never got injured, but he did so the Blazers will win in six games.

4th seeded Oklahoma City Thunder vs 5th seeded Utah Jazz

Prediction: Thunder wins the series 4-3.

This will most likely be the best series in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Both teams have dominant scorers to go along with lockdown defenders. Both teams started off the season playing on the downside but significantly picked it up as the season went on. The Thunder can thank their former MVP in Russell Westbrook who managed to average a triple-double on the season, for the second year in a row. They also have their new all-star, Paul George who shot 40% from the three-point which helped with additional scoring. On the other hand, the Jazz has Donovan Mitchell their spectacular rookie who is a front-runner for rookie of the year. He is the teams natural leader by averaging 20.5 points per game in the regular season. The teams anchor on defense is Rudy Gobert who averaged 2.3 blocks per game during the regular season and is a candidate for defensive player of the year. The reason this series will take seven games to decide a winner is because both teams are excellent at home, below average on the road. So, the team with more home games will win and that is the Thunder.

Eastern conference first round:

1st seeded Toronto Raptors vs 8th seeded Washington Wizards

Prediction: Raptors win the series 4-1.

This is the Raptors best season since they first entered the NBA in 1995. They managed to rack up 59 wins this season thanks to their all stars, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. DeRozan averaged 23 points per game this year while Lowry averaged 16 points per game to go along with 7 assists per game.  In addition to their two stars, their coach Dwane Casey has been excellent this year and is a top candidate for coach of the year. The wizards on the other hand have struggled with injuries this year which is why they barely made the playoffs. Their team chemistry is also really low this year for that same reason. They’ll be lucky if they even win one game against the Raptors.

2nd seeded Boston Celtics vs 7th seeded Milwaukee Bucks

Prediction: Bucks win the series 4-3

Here we have our first upset in the first round of the playoffs. The Bucks seed does not represent the teams full potential. They have an MVP candidate in Giannis Antetokounmpo, who averaged 27 points per game and 10 rebounds per game this regular season. Oh, and by the way, he is only 23 years old. The main reason for this upset is that the Celtics all-star Kyrie Irving will not be playing, as he suffered a season ending knee injury. To go along with that their other all-star, Gordon Hayward has not fully recovered from his leg injury, when he broke it in the first game of the season. Without these two all-stars, the Celtics are without a leader, which is what they need with all the young talent on the team.

3rd seeded Philadelphia 76er’s vs Miami Heat

Prediction: Sixers win the series 4-0

How is it possible that just one year ago this sixers team only managed to get 28 wins, but this year completely turned that around and got an incredible 52 wins. The answer, well there’s actually two answers, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Wow, these two are outstanding. Embiid averaged 23 points per game and 11 rebounds per game this season while Simmons averaged 16 points per game 8 rebounds per game and 8 assists per game. It’s not just that they’re incredible young players, but they have the swagger. The Heat stand absolutely no chance against this team, no stars, no leaders, bring out the brooms sixers fans and get ready for a ride.

4th seeded Cleveland Cavaliers vs 5th seeded Indiana Pacers

Prediction: Cavs win the series 4-2

LeBron James, the four-time MVP has never lost a first-round playoff series throughout his Hall of Fame career. In fact, he’s never even gone to Game 7 in the first round and has only needed a sixth game twice, in 2006 and 2008. Moreover, he has led his team to five consecutive sweeps in the first round of the playoffs, with the latest loss coming in 2012. To go along with these series stats, James is having possibly the best season of his career. He averaged 27.5 points per game, 8.6 rebounds per game, 9.1 assists per game, 1.6 steals per game and .8 blocks per game. He is doing everything in his power to win for his team, with the city on his back. The only reason the Cavs will lose two games are because the Pacers are led by Victor Oladipo who is the top candidate for Most Improved Player. Oladipo has showed us what he is capable of and he should be able to get at least two wins in Indiana before the Cavs win the series.

Western Conference Semifinals:

1st seeded Rockets vs 4th seeded Thunder:

Prediction: Rockets win the series 4-2

The Rockets are the best team in the playoffs and they won’t let the Thunder stop them. Chris Paul will be able to lock down Russell Westbrook in at least four of the games. Then on the other side, no one on the Thunder has the capability to play defense on James Harden. The Thunder struggled at the beginning of the year to find their offense and it will be a struggle to keep up with the three point shooting of the Rockets. The Thunder are also lacking in a great coach, while the Rockets have a clear coach of the year candidate in Mike D’Antoni.

2nd seeded Warriors vs 3rd seeded Blazers

Prediction: Warriors win the series 4-1

Assuming Stephen Curry is back and healthy at this point, the Warriors are too deep for the Blazers. The Warriors are 1-2 against the Blazers this year, but each game was without Curry. Damian Lillard has been great for the Blazers, but Curry can outplay him. Klay Thompson is more known for his three point shooting but he is also an excellent defender and will lockdown CJ McCollum. To add on, there is no way that the Blazers will be able to find an answer to Kevin Durant. Without McCollum scoring as much as he does and Lillards points being not enough because Curry will score just as much if not more, there is no possible way they can win the series.

Eastern Conference Semifinals:

1st seeded Raptors vs 4 seeded Cavaliers

Prediction: Cavaliers win the series 4-3

Both teams have great scores, great defenders, but only one team has LeBron James and that is the Cavs. Foul trouble plaguing OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam of the Raptors will be the reason they eventually lose. They are the only players on the Raptors with a decent chance to slow down James, but when they get in foul trouble they won’t be able to play that many minutes. The reason they will get so many fouls is because James is the best at drawing fouls in the league, especially when he drives to the hoop.  To go along with this, since the beginning of March, the Cavs have outscored their opposing teams by 2.9 points per 100 possessions, the ninth-best mark league wide. There Cavs new young players will give them the energy boost they will most certainly need to get past the Raptors in a very tough series.

3rd seeded 76er’s vs 7th seeded Bucks

Prediction Sixers win the series 4-0

After pulling off one upset the Bucks won’t have enough left to get past the beast of a team in the sixers. Giannis Antetokounmpo is amazing, but Ben Simmons can lock him up and shut him down. He is the only player on the Bucks capable of making a impact significant enough to win a game against the Sixers. So, without him scoring the Bucks will get destroyed each game. Moreover, Joel Embiid will be unstoppable in the paint and will most likely average at least 20 points per game for the Sixers each game in this series and he will be able to lock down the paint on the defensive side holding the Bucks to under 100 points for the entire series.

Western Conference Championship: 1st seeded Rockets vs 2nd seeded Warriors

Prediction: Rockets win the series 4-3

Once both of these super star teams arrive here, so much will depend on health. Will Stephen Curry’s injury be fully healed, or will it have gotten worse after a tough match up with Damian Lillard in the Western Conference Semifinals? In any situation, it will be Houston’s battle to lose.

The Rockets have the advantage of team chemistry, since none of their stars missed a significant amount of games following the all-star break. If necessary, they’ll also get to play Game 7 at the Toyota Center, their home court, where they’ve thrilled their hometown fans with a league highest 34 wins and only seven loses. There is no wrong answer overall on who will come out on top, but this seems like Houston’s year. This will be the time for James Harden to validate his MVP candidates by beating the reigning champions.

Eastern Conference Championship: 3rd seeded 76er’s vs 4th seeded Cavaliers

Prediction: Cavaliers win the series 4-3

The Cavs have been here before and the 76er’s have not. LeBron James has made it to seven straight finals and after winning this series it will be eight. Yes, the sixers have incredible young talent in Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, but they don’t have a counter to Lebron James. James has showed us year after year in the playoffs that no one can guard him. He will be able to lead his team past the sixers, but it will take seven games. When it comes down to the final game of the series, the more experienced team will be able to change up their play style when needed, find a way to score and win the game to punch their ticket to the NBA Finals.

Championship game: 1st seeded Rockets vs 4th seeded Cavaliers

Predictions: Rockets win the series 4-1

The Rockets’ overpowered offense will be to much for Lebron James and the Cavs. The Cavs only played the Rockets twice this year, but lost both times, one of those by 32 points. That was before the Cavs made the decision to trade away half their team at the trade deadline. Now the team is younger and faster, but no where near experienced as the Rockets. The Rockets on the other hand are lead by the top MVP candidate in James Harden. The only reason the Cavs win one game is because they will get at least two games at home and Lebron James always plays his heart out when in front of his home city that loves him. But one game is all they will win because the Cavs will not be able to stop the three point shooting of the Rockets. Additionally, the Cavs will have a hard time under pressure due to their new young talent on the team. James Harden and Chris Paul will each win their first championship and will be the Rockets third championship, the other coming in 1994 and 1995.

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