I already published an article on my thoughts about season awards and such. If I could go back I would say the Jazz Head Coach Quin Snyder wins Coach of the Year instead of Brad Stevens. But my picks are locked. So here go my predictions… WESTJUST MISSING BY SOME SMALL MARGIN/TIEBREAKER
Conference Semis: Warriors vs. Lakers; Jazz vs. Pelicans Conference Finals: Lakers vs. Jazz Western Conference Champion: JAZZWHY?I hate to say it, but I think the 4-11 teams in the West (even with the Spurs and Thunder already dying to the injury bug) are going to have a similar thing happen like last year, where the 4-10 teams (last year) were separated by 2 games in the standings. I think the Spurs, Thunder, and Timber-Bulls are the most injury/locker-room-disaster prone in the West this year, so expect them to be on the outside looking in. Jazz will be the best team in the West this year in the regular season. Resting for the playoffs drops the Warriors from 1 to 2. Bron and the Lake-Show take awhile to start gelling, but will cruise past after the All-Star break. Pels will run a high pick-and-roll/pop with AD and Jrue until teams start quadruple-teaming them. Blazers will play their hearts out in the season for Paul Allen. Rockets’ defense will be so bad that they will drop off the face of the Earth. Grizzlies will be a surprise to everyone, and I think their starting lineup of Conley, Temple/Seldon, Anderson, Jackson, and Gasol can be one of the best starting 5 in the West. The Nuggets have sold out for the “we will just outscore them” mentality, and will be the best regular season offense. Jazz defense will shut down the Nuggets offense. Warriors “Lineup of Death” will force Gasol off the court, and will be the demise of them. The Lakers will gash the already hole-filled defense of the Rockets. AD will give any Blazers player in or the near the paint nightmares. LeBron is in full revenge-mode, and wants to destroy the Warriors before they even get to the finals. He went into THEIR conference after all, and I fully expect the Warriors to get caught off-guard and rest on their laurels too much. I also fully expect Draymond and/or Boogie to get ejected after getting in a stupid fight with someone from the ‘Meme Team’. While I think AD will be the best player in the Jazz-Pels series, the Jazz are just too deep and versatile. They are pretty much the Celtics of the West with how crazy deep and defense-oriented their team is. Jazz will be able to beat the Lakers solely for the fact that they are/will be the best defensive team in the NBA. They have 3-4 guys that can actually guard LeBron (historically that is), and they have a center who’s name isn’t Javale. I haven’t mentioned much about Donovan being a key factor, but I believe that’s because teams will key in on him up until this series. I fully believe he will be the best player in this series if his teammate Rudy Gobert doesn’t show it. EASTJUST MISSING BY SOME SMALL MARGIN/TIEBREAKER
Conference Semis: Celtics vs. Pacers; Raptors vs. Bucks Conference Finals: Celtics vs. Bucks Eastern Conference Champion: CELTICSWHY?So the Hornets and Nets are on two opposite ends of the spectrum. One good, one bad. The Hornets slide from mediocrity to abysmal will hit full stride after the All-Star break. Fully expect them to gut the team and trade, but Jordan is ‘too smart’ to do that. He wants to compete, and it will handicap this team tremendously. The Nets are the reverse. They have a young core, and will make strides. I fully expect them to barely get left out, and they will be able to secure a better team through the FA and the draft (since they actually have their pick for now). Celtics are the 2nd best team in the NBA behind the Warriors. Raptors may finish the year behind MVP Robo-Kawhi and their amazing defense. Giannis will be what LeBron was in Cleveland during the 2015-16 season, and lead an above average team with a good coach. The 76ers are going to destroy teams with Simmons and Embiid being the ‘Unguardable Duo’. The Pacers will either have the 2nd best or 3rd best defense in the East, and Dipo is going to try and prove they shouldn’t be overlooked. The Wizards (based on their talent) should be one of the best teams in the NBA…BUT they will implode and be lucky to even be the 6th seed. The Heat and Cavs will limp into the playoffs, and that is solely because of the fact that they have All-Stars on their teams, while the rest in the East do not. The Celtics beating the Cavs and Raptors beating the Heat will almost be unwatchable by how big these blowouts will be. The Bucks will also destroy the Wizards, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a ‘Player’s Only Meeting’ held by the Wizards during (lol). The 76ers and Pacers will be a great series, and I only have the 6ers falling solely because the 76ers don’t have an answer for Dipo and their defense. Celtics will easily push past a tired Pacers, and will bludgeon them down with their depth. The Raptors and Bucks will b
e matchup of (in my mind) the #1 and #2 vote-getters in the MVP race. The only reason I have the Bucks edging past the Raptors is because Giannis shows that his lessons with Kobe paid off. I fully expect the Greek Freak to decimate them, and the Raptors to have no answer. The Celtics will be able to contain Giannis’ supporting cast, and pretty much play amazing defense throughout the series. I also expect that every aspect about their team (depth, offense, defense, etc.) overwhelms the Bucks. FINALS (Jazz vs. Celtics)Winner = Celtics (in 7)Finals MVP = Marcus Smart WHY?So this scenario was a little easier to stick to. Let’s dissect the easiest part first: the MVP. The last couple winners of Finals MVP have been people that can guard the best player on the court or the best player on the court. By that logic, Smart easier gets the MVP award. I also expect him to capitalize on the offensive end as well. The Celtics and the Jazz will be the refresher that is well-needed in this era of Western Warrior dominance. Both teams have the depth that is needed to get there at every position, have young stars capable of handling the spotlight, and will have outstanding defensive/offensive ratings. Even though the Warriors will be the most talented team in the NBA, these will be the best OVERALL teams in the NBA. It is going to be a long, drawn-out, exciting series. I believe that this will break numerous viewing/streaming records. In terms of the players, I can’t think of any players that will have a bad series off the top of my head. Every player will have a minimum of 10 quarters where they play out of their minds, and that’s not factoring in any games going into OT (which I expect more than a couple of these to go to) and any players maintaining a game-long hot streak. Do I think this will happen? Yes. What percentage am I giving this championship in occurring? Less than 20%, closer to 15% in actuality. Why am I so certain? Simple really. I think the Warriors cockiness, Boogie’s polarizing attitude/play, and a ‘hunger’ in the West to dethrone them will make it happen. You may notice I am only describing the West aspect in this, since I am willing to take/make bets on whether or not the Celts will get to the ‘Ship. Enjoy this hot take hotcake boys and girls.
Happy Tip Day.