NBA season restart has brought that spark to basketball as anticipated by fans worldwide and as usual they all look up to the start of the playoffs. As a fan of basketball, one of the sweetest thing to argue about is a buzzer-beater game ending shot by your favourites team’s player with your friend’s team who just lost.
Since the restart, teams like Portland Trailblazers, Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets have been on a ridiculous streak of winning games with Phoenix Suns being 4-0 since the restart.
Well safe to say at this point, all teams in the Eastern Conference have clinched a playoffs spot while the main battle for the 8th seed in the Western Conference is an ongoing battle which might last till the last day of the regular season with Portland looking likely to be the favourites for that 8th spot in the West.
Coming into the bubble in Orlando, one would have thought Memphis Grizzlies would put on a hard fight to cement their 8th position in the West needed to secure a playoffs berth but having a terrible record of 0-4 and to make matters worse losing starter Jaren Jackson Jr to a torn meniscus, their season might as well have come to an end.
Just like the regular playoffs pattern where first round fixtures always have this format:
– 1st seed vs 8th,
– 2nd seed vs 7th seed,
– 3rd seed vs 6th seed and
– 4th seed vs 5th seed
Although in the Eastern Conference, all Top 8 teams have secured a playoffs berth but the battle for the 7th and 8th position haven’t been finalized between Brooklyn Nets and Orlando Magic respectively since both teams haven’t put a stamp on either position yet while in the Western Conference it’s looking like a four-way battle between the current holder of the 8th spot – Memphis Grizzlies and the other three contenders Portland Trailblazers, Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs but if you ask me to choose my favourite I see the Trailblazers coming in clutch to secure that needed 8th spot so without further ado let’s go straight to my early predictions for this year’s playoffs. (Note: This prediction will only cover the first and second round of the playoffs). Enjoy!
• Eastern Conference:
– Milwaukee Bucks (1st) vs Orlando Magic (8th) : No brainer this should be a clean sweep i.e Bucks winning their first four games in a row and might the Magic come up with an upset, then a 4-1 won’t hurt as Giannis Bucks’ should move onto the next round with ease.
– Toronto Raptors (2nd) vs Brooklyn Nets (7th): Unlike the Bucks’ case, I don’t see the Raptors achieving a clean sweep but I see a 4-2 record when it’s all said and done. The Nets’ Jarret Allen and Caris LeVert stand no chance against current NBA champions who boast a mighty and healthy roster in Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka and deadeye shooter Fred Van Vleet.
– Boston Celtics (3rd) vs Philadelphia 76ers (6th): Battle of the youngsters if I do say so but in the long run I’d pick Celtics to come out as victors solely because the current 76ers squad has been depleted with All-Star Ben Simmons injuring his left knee against Washington Wizards on Wednesday, August 5 and although Fellow teammates in Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris can do the scoring duty just well but Simmons impact will be exploited by the Boston Celtics squad in Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker to name a few and a nice defensive outing by Marcus Smart and Daniel Theis should send Boston to the next round. I see this series being decided by a game 7 so 4-3 is my prediction or if things go well for Celtics 4-2
– Miami Heat (3rd) vs Indiana Pacers (4th): This is also going to be a tough one but judging by how both teams have performed since the restart, Pacers have shown themselves to be a better team with TJ Warren unleashing hell on opponents like never before and Miami shaky restart with a 2-2 not looking encouraging but I’d follow my guts and go with Miami Heat winning this series with a probable 4-2 record if they find their spark which I think might come sooner than later.
• Western Conference:
– Los Angeles Lakers (1st) vs Portland Trailblazers (8th): Damn! This hurts me so much this might be the potential matchup in the first round but let’s call a spade a spade: nobody is beating LeBron James’ team in the first round nor second round so I’d go for Lakers clinching the victory with a 4-2 record.
– Los Angeles Clippers (2nd) vs Dallas Mavericks (7th): Dallas Mavericks no doubt is a threat in the West but against this 2020 Los Angeles Clippers led by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, well there’s little they can do against a defensive locked in team like the Clippers so Clippers to win in five – 4-1 as I see Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis putting a battle till the end but when it’s all said and done Clippers have the better team both in starters and bench if we consider it thoroughly.
– Denver Nuggets (3rd) vs Oklahoma City Thunder (6th): OKC before the bubble were sizzling hot but since the restart they’ve dropped three spots down to the sixth position as they were third before July 31st so judging by this and putting into consideration Denver Nuggets hot-cake player right now in person of Michael Porter Jr and even how their strategic change hasn’t affected much of their game with Centre Nikola Jokic playing Point Guard, allowing rookie Bol Bol playing time in Centre position . . . Well it’s safe to say, Nuggets win this round 4-2.
– Houston Rockets (3rd) vs Utah Jazz (4th): Houston as a team are a epitome of their name right now as they keep soaring (position wise) like a rocket as they’ve successful moved three spots higher than they left to the third position in the West and though the Jazz pose a defensive threat especially in big man Rudy Gobert, I see Rockets winning this series at worst in Game 6 so 4-2 is my prediction but I’m not underestimating the offensive threat in Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley but that’s why there’s a James Harden for all the shenanigans.
Now to the second round predictions:
• Eastern Conference:
– Milwaukee Bucks vs Miami Heat: Well! Well! Well!!! Miami’s glorious season might just be coming to an end unless a miracle happens somehow somewhere but in the unlikeliness of that happening and if I’m to be speaking frankly then Bucks have this series in their favour already and reason being that they are the best defensive team in the NBA 19/20 season and their offense is not that bad either as long as they have reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo with Eric Bledsoe and Kris Middleton to do the damage. Bucks in 6 – 4-2.
– Toronto Raptors vs Boston Celtics: This might just be the trickiest matchup to predict yet as both teams boast good offensive and defensive ratings even making it harder to pick a winner right now. But judging by “reigning champions” claim, I’d pick Raptors winning in Game 7 so 4-3 is my prediction if Boston star players like Kemba Walker and Gordon Hayward keep getting minutes restrictions.
• Western Conference:
– Los Angeles Lakers vs Houston Rockets: Favourites to win the championship this year, Lakers will have to bring their A-game if they are to defeat this present day Houston Rockets but my predictions will be Lakers to win through seven games so 4-3. Sheesh! Sorry to all Rockets fans out there.
– Los Angeles Clippers vs Denver Nuggets: This will also be tough but I got Clippers winning in 6 not just because they outmatch the Nuggets in offense and defense but because I believe team’s bench will be the determining factors as starters might be overworked by now and that’s where Lou Williams and (a possible return by) Montrezl Harrel come into play. So 4-2 in Los Angeles Clippers favour.
So the predictable Eastern Conference Finals would be Milwaukee Bucks vs Toronto Raptors while for the Western Conference Finals it would be the battle of LA in Los Angeles Lakers vs Los Angeles Clippers. So who do you have winning the NBA Finals for the 2019/2020 season?