We are in the second round of the NBA Playoffs and every series is at 3-2. This is probably the most evenly matched second round that I can remember. So far, the games have been exciting and competitive, which is all we can really ask for. I’ve been impressed with what the Clippers have been able to accomplish thus far, eliminating the Defending Champions, the San Antonio Spurs, in seven games. Without a doubt, they had the hardest match-up in the first round.
Let’s take a look at the second round match-ups, who will advance to the conference finals, and ultimately, who will be this year’s NBA Champions.
#1 Golden State Warriors vs #5 Memphis Grizzlies
The Warriors eliminated Anthony Davis and the #8 New Orleans Pelicans in the first round. Davis proved to be a worthy adversary, but the Warriors were too much for the Pelicans to handle. The Grizzlies were able to knock off the #4 Portland Trail Blazers, as the Blazers tried to overcome injuries and streaky play. Memphis had their own injuries to worry about coming into the series with Golden State. Mike Conley, the starting point guard for the Grizzlies had a fractured face, in addition to a sprained right foot. He missed Game 1 but returned in Game 2 to provide a spark that the team desperately needed. Memphis is a gritty, defensive-minded team who plays great team basketball, but ultimately, the Warriors are just too good. I see the Warriors winning in 6.
#2 Houston Rockets vs #3 Los Angeles Clippers
This series should be over by now but the Rockets rallied in the second half of Game 2 to pull out a victory, and held off the Clippers in Game 5. Coming off a 7-game series in the first round, the Clippers managed to overwhelm the Rockets in game 1, and steal the first game in Houston. And so far, they’ve been able to do this without their leader, Chris Paul, who has been dealing with a pulled hamstring from Game 7. Paul returned in Game 3, which has been the spark that the Clippers needed. All in all, this should be an entertaining match-up with an abundance of scoring. In the end, the Clippers should prevail in 6 games.
#1 Atlanta Hawks vs #5 Washington Wizards
The Atlanta Hawks seemed to have more trouble with the #8 Brooklyn Nets than expected in their first round match-up. I don’t think anyone expected it to go 6 games. Washington was able to breeze past Toronto in 4 games, but ran into a little bad luck in Game 1 versus the Hawks. John Wall and Bradley Beal were injured, although both were able to return to finish the game. However, Wall ended up missing Games 2, 3, and 4, and his status remained uncertain with five small fractures in his left wrist and hand. Wall returned to action for Game 5, showing his commitment to his teammates, playing through and dealing with his injury. However, Al Horford ruined his return party by putting in the winning basket with 1.3 seconds remaining. With a healthy Wall, things might be a little different but with all things considered, the Hawks win in 7.
#2 Cleveland Cavaliers vs #3 Chicago Bulls
The Cavaliers, without Kevin Love and J.R. Smith for the first two games, were able to hang on to split the 2-game series in Cleveland. Although Love is out for the remainder of the playoffs, Smith returned in Game 3 following his 2-game suspension. He’s been able to give the team a lift and help spread the floor against the bigger Bulls team. With Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol, and Jimmy Butler leading the team, Chicago should be able to make this an interesting series. However, Gasol was hurt in Game 3 and ended up missing Game 4, which was a huge blow. He’s going to try to tough it out tonight in Game 6, since it’s an elimination game for the Bulls. In the end, Lebron will be too much for Chicago to overcome. The Cavaliers advance by beating the Bulls in 7.
I’m excited to see how everything plays out following the second round but here are my predictions going forward:
- In a back-and-forth battle between two teams that despise one another, the Warriors will need 7 games to eliminate the Clippers.
- In the East, the top 2 seeds find themselves matched up in the Eastern Conference Finals.
- Lebron’s will and desire carry the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals by eliminating the Atlanta Hawks in 6. That leaves us with a Warriors and Cavaliers final.
- With the home court advantage in the Finals, the Warriors’ tempo and team chemistry will help secure Golden State its first NBA Title since the 1974-75 season.
- The Warriors are crowned the NBA Champions as they eliminate the Cavaliers in 6.
I’d love to hear who you have in your Finals predictions. Let me know in the comments below.