Welcome the the NBA Playoffs Round 2! Since the NBA had a quick turnaround, so do we, unfortunately. With all the game 7s this is one topsy-turvy playoff season! Lets see who we have getting through this round.
Previous round Picks
(EJ Picked Ind in 4, DJ picked Indy in 5, David Ind5)
(EJ Bull6, DJ Wiz7, David Wiz6)
I just want to say again, that ESPN NBA Experts picked the Bulls, 16 of 17 panelists. 2 of 3 picked the Wiz here. Just saying.
The Case for the Washington Wizards:
EJ: I have to be honest. I didn’t expect the Wizards to be here. Thought the Bulls would dispatch them easy, and that didn’t happen. John Wall played like an All-Star and the combo of Gortat and Nene came to play. For the Wizards to beat the Pacers, they’ll need their big men to score, and for some solid shooting from Bradley Beal and Trevor Ariza.
DJ: I’ve been going with upsets in this postseason, I took the Grizzlies over the Thunder and if Z-Bo hadn’t gotten suspended for a game…..it would have happened. The Wizards have a great young backcourt in Wall and Beal. Jeff Teague averaged 19.3ppg and 5apg against the Pacers, Indiana is about to get a double dose of trouble in Washington’s excellent youngsters. I expect Wall to dominate George Hill and Beal will be a tougher matchup for Lance Stephenson than Kyle Korver.
Trevor Ariza is a very good defender and I like him neutralizing Paul George. I think Nene and Gortat give Hibbert a tough time in the low post and Hibbert will be a non-factor on offense.
David: I got it. The Wizards did let me down a bit though, Nene didn’t dominate like I thought he would, and Wall should have done more as well. The Wizards have to win this game with SPEED, and they have to do it early. Paul George isn’t 100% and the Wizards have to take advantage. If this goes 6 games, the Wizards may have no chance in 7. They have to run to keep Hibbert off the floor, and make then try and stop Wall and Beal in the open floor. The slower the game, the harder it will be for them.
The Case for the Indiana Pacers:
EJ: The Pacers did struggle against the Hawks. Didn’t see that happening either. The Hawks spread the floor out and that took Roy Hibbert out of comfort zone. However, I can’t see the Wizards doing the same. Hibbert is a rim protector, and with Gortat and Nene playing closer to the basket than Antic and Milsapp did for the Hawks, I think he’ll be far more effective against the Wizards if they try driving to the hoop. If Roy can get his confidence back on the defensive end, he’ll help out the Pacers on the offensive end. Make no mistake: As Roy Hibbert goes in this series so will the Pacers.
DJ: The Pacers have a battle-tested veteran power forward in David West and he’s been an excellent player for them since he signed as a free agent a few seasons ago. They also have an All-Star in George, but he has a touch matchup ahead of him with Ariza shadowing him.
David: The Pacers are just DEEP, and seemed to have come together when they had to. I do think they needed to be challanged, and part of the reason you fight through 82 games is to try to avoid the harder teams, and play the crappier ones. I do think they wanted the Bulls, so Hibbert might get well against Noah, but the Wizards might be a better matchup for them. Hibbert can float out on Nene and work the boards without someone stronger knocking him back 5 feet.
So who do you got?
EJ: I got the Pacers in 6 games. To be honest I think I’m being generous in giving the Wizards two games in this series. They were a great story against the Bulls, but they don’t go any further in this playoffs. I fully expect Hibbert to get his groove back, and I think Stephenson will eat up Beal/Ariza on defense.
DJ: The Wizards are young and very talented. I like Ariza’s and Nene’s playoff experience to balance out the youngsters lack of experience. They also have Miller who has been through the playoff battles also. Washington in 6, Indiana struggled against the Hawks and to close out the last part of the season after the George scandal. I like Washington pull the shocker and advance to the ECF.
David: I’m taking the Pacers in 6. Wall is going to take one, and the Pacers are going to give away one. Frank is a great coach, and he will look like it this series. Lance has to play better, and he has to have read a bit about how much money he’s losing with his play. Better to be an overpaid role player than an underpaid star in a crap market.
(EJ Clip7, DJ Clip6, David Clip5)
(EJ OKC5, DJ Memphis 7, David OKC4)
The Case for the Los Angeles Clippers:
EJ: The Clippers have been through a lot, but the further we get away from the Sterling fiasco, the more they can concentrate on just basketball. The Clippers are a deep roster, they can go at least 10 deep, and they’ve bought into Doc’s defensive schemes. If they can somehow limit Durant and/or Westbrook, they could make quick work of the Thunder.
DJ: Those damned Grizzlies almost made me look like a prophet, but as I mentioned before, their best player got suspended for game 7. As a Lakers fan, I shouldn’t be happy with the Clippers success, but I am. They’ve been through a lot and I think they are set to have a deep playoff run.
Chris Paul vs Russell Westbrook looms as the series premier matchup and while Mike Conley is a nice point guard, CP is, arguably, the best PG in the league. Westbrook will have his hands full with CP.
David: So here we are with what we all thought would be the West Champions- other than those damned Spurs. So the winner here gets to face off with the Spurs for the bloodletting (Spoiler Alert!) The Clippers and Thunder are a matchup of strength vs strength. CP3 vs Westbrook is the advantage here for the Clippers. CP3 has been the best Point in the league almost since he stepped on the floor, and he finally has the parts around him to shine. IF CP3 plays hero ball for the last 2 minutes, then the Clippers can win, if he has to do it the entire 4th quarter, then the Clippers lose.
The Case for the Oklahoma City Thunder:
EJ:Hard to count out the Slim Reaper, and a healthy Russell Westbrook. These two guys are arguably two of the 10 best players in the NBA. I said it: 10 best. If they go off against the Clippers and can get contributions from a couple of their teammates, then you can write their names into the Western Conference Finals.
DJ: The Thunder aren’t deep, but they have two top 10 players in the NBA right now. They are both capable of going for 35-40 points on any given night, but they lack the depth LA has. And that’s a problem against a team that is deeper than Memphis.
David: Welcome to Blake vs Durant. The Thunder Advantage. Durant gets the advantage because of where his game can take place. If Blake tries to play at 15 feet, Durant will kill him. 20 feet? Might as well be me out there. 7 feet and in and the battle is much closer. You also have some bodies to slow Blake down in Serge and Perkins. I also think the Thunder are deeper.
So who do I got?
EJ: This is a hard one for me. I really am a fan of both teams, and I can see the winner of this series make it to the NBA Finals. I’m going to say Clippers in 7 games but I say that with no confidence whatsoever. To be honest, I flipped a coin. Only way I came up with my prediction.
DJ: This isn’t as hard as it should be for me. The Clippers in 6. Too often, I get the impression KD and RW are competing against each other for control of OKC. If KD puts up 30 shots, RW wants to put up 31. That’s a problem for me, a PG should try and set up his fellow team-mates….kind of like CP.
David: The one matchup I did not mention is the coaching matchup. I think Brooks get too much crap and Rivers gets too much credit. I still don’t think either is a great coach, and Pops is going to have a MASSIVE advantage in the next round. I’m taking the Thunder in 6, just because I think they beat a better team in round one, have depth, and lets face it, Doc Rivers can blow a series in the heartbeat.
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