NBA Playoff Predictions Analysis

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NBA Playoff Predictions Analysis

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Photo courtesy of Chris Creamers

NBA Playoffs Logo

Photo courtesy of Chris Creamers

Photo courtesy of Chris Creamers

NBA Playoffs Logo

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It’s been thirteen long years. Stars were born. Legends were made. Icons became iconic. Dynasties started, dynasties ended. And for the first time in 13 years, LeBron James will not be in the NBA playoffs. He has made the finals eight seasons in a row and acquired three championships during that span.

 

However, there is an even more formidable challenge for any team trying to take home a championship- the Golden State Warriors. Winners of the three of the last four NBA finals,  the Warriors are still stacked with a lineup lined with all-NBA talent.

 

With all that being said, this year could spell a drastic shift in the NBA landscape. Giannis Antetokounmpo will lead the Milwaukee Bucks into the playoffs with the NBA’s best record. But will that be enough to overtake the Toronto Raptors, who added Kawhi Leonard and a new coach? Or a Boston team that was a game away from the NBA finals without two max-contract players? Not to mention, in the western conference, the Houston Rockets will be looking for blood against a Warriors team they took to seven games in last year’s western conference finals. The Denver Nuggets will also look to make some noise as their young superstars Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray lead the team to the West’s second seed.

No matter who comes out on top, one thing is certain- this will be an NBA playoffs that will be remembered for a long time for many reasons. Continue reading for expert analysis on the first round and some more NBA playoffs predictions.

Photo by Devon Diamante and Keifer Kowalczyk

 

Golden State Warriors vs. Houston Rockets

The two titans of the West will clash in a rematch of last year’s western conference finals which went to seven games. The Warriors are on the quest for their third consecutive championship, and their fourth in five years. They are led by Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, a formidable duo who have been running the NBA ever since Durant joined the Warriors. For the Rockets are led by James Harden, who led the league in points per game, averaging 36.1 a game. When asked about his prediction, Nicholas Ruszala said the Warriors would win, “Because of the refs being corrupt.”

 

Milwaukee Bucks vs. Boston Celtics

Another series that went to seven games last year, this series has the potential to be a classic. Both teams look different from last year’s squads, as the Celtics will have superstar Kyrie Irving and ex-all star Gordon Hayward this time around. The Celtics chemistry has been in question for the whole year, but they looked good as they swept the Indiana Pacers in the first round. On the other side, MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo will look to finally make it out of the first round and looks primed to do so after leading the Bucks to the NBA’s best record with a great supporting cast. Liam Kessel said, “I can’t wait to watch the Bucks and Celtics play.” The matchup is sure to garner a lot of attention due to the sheer star power on display.

 

Denver Nuggets vs. Portland Trail Blazers

These two series almost felt like upsets in their own right, despite both teams being the higher seed. Many people doubted Denver’s playoff experience according to our survey, and even FiveThirtyEight had the Thunder has overwhelming favorites. It’ll be interesting to see which team can play better defense, as they both boast loads of offensive weapons, the Trail Blazers with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, and the Nuggets with Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. Damian Lillard is coming off an incredible series against the Oklahoma City Thunder averaging 34 points per game to put the Westbrook George and co. away in a quick five games. Daniel Hong said “I have to give credit where credit is due, and Dame had a phenomenal series, especially in the closeout game” Meanwhile, despite some incredible individual performances by Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets needed seven games to dispatch the Spurs who at times looked the superior team.

 

Toronto Raptors vs. Philadelphia 76ers

The Raptors and Sixers both made quick work of their first-round matchups, as even though they both dropped their first games, both rattled off four straight wins. The 76ers have a star-studded lineup headlined by Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. However, this group lacks exceptional depth, which could be something the Raptors expose, seeing as they have one of the best bench mobs in the league. Even depth is important, the Raptors will only go as far as Kawhi Leonard can take them. FiveThirtyEight’s data pegs the raptors as the second most likely NBA champion. Meanwhile, no responders to our data had them winning the finals.

 

Check out Devon and Keifer’s 34-minute podcast here!

 

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