2017 NBA Playoffs: Predictions & Matchup Breakdowns

The 2017 NBA Playoffs start today. It’s only playoff tradition for someone to make their matchup predictions. Here are mine. 

Western Conference

Golden State Warriors (1) v. Portland Trailblazers (8):

The Warriors win in five. It would likely be four, however, evaluating Kevin Durant’s recently coming off an injury and some current team chemistry kinks, a dedicated combo of Damien Lillard and C.J. McCollum will have one game where they go off and help steal one. There is nothing more to expect here other than the gentlemen’s sweep.

San Antonio Spurs (2) v. Memphis Grizzlies (7):

Spurs will come away with the victory here. The Spurs and the Grizzlies have a long history with both teams coming out on top at one point. But this year the Spurs will win in six. The advantages for each team come from certain positions. While Kawhi Leonard will be virtually impossible to guard man-to-man, Mike Conley could cause some guard trouble mischief. However Kawhi’s perimeter defense will see him match up against Conley at many points throughout the series and will be too much for the Grizzlies to succeed against.

Houston Rockets (3) v. Oklahoma City Thunder (6):

I’m going out on a limb here, but I predict Russell Westbrook and the Thunder in six. I expect the defense of the Thunder to slow down the high-paced offense of the Rockets. Taking into account the fact that the game naturally slows down in the playoffs and less fouls are called, both of these factors do not bode well for James Harden and the Rockets. I feel that this will be the only upset of the first round as the top two MVP candidates go head-to-head.

Los Angeles Clippers (4) v. Utah Jazz (5):

Experience will outplay here; Clippers take the series in six. This will be an entertaining series with a visible coming out party for Utah’s eccentric Gordon Hayward. However, the star power of the Clippers’ big-three, blended with the desperation of this year being the absolute last opportunity for them to make a run with this unit, will be too much for the Jazz who are entering the playoffs for a first time since the 2011-2012 season.

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In a nutshell: The many leader-faced players of this years NBA Playoffs teams. (via Sportscenter)

Eastern Conference

Boston Celtics (1) v. Chicago Bulls (8):

The Celtics have not won a playoff series since 2010-2011. That drought will end this year. The Bulls under Jimmy Butler’s leadership will show some grit and will even pull two wins, but the better team will win the day and the Celtics will see the second round for the first time behind their leader Isaiah Thomas.

Cleveland Cavaliers (2) v. Indiana Pacers (7):

Cavaliers will sweep the Pacers. Though they have looked tired to end the season and are playing through some shortcomings, a resurgence of King James and “his kingsmen” aren’t limiting their playoff run to the first round. Pacers’ Paul George will probably put on a commendable show, but not one to out-perform last year’s NBA Champions.

Toronto Raptors (3) v. Milwaukee Bucks (6):

This matchup will be fun to watch, as superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo will see his first playoffs as the definitive leader of his team. The Raptors are by far the better team and should win this with general ease, but the pure, raw, and versatile skill of Giannis mixed with the playoff experienced Kris Middleton coming in as a second scorer will give the Raptors some issues. Raptors win in six.

Washington Wizards (4) v. Atlanta Hawks (5):

The Washington Wizards’ high-powered offense will overpower the Hawks. This series ends quickly with a five-game series and the Wizards in favour.

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The 2017 NBA Playoffs bracket.  (via Sporting News)

Today’s first playoff matchup is the Cleveland Cavaliers against the Indiana Pacers @ 3:00 pm on ABC.

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Serge Ibaka Surging in Toronto

By David Arruda
That’s right, it has happened again. Masai Ujiri came out of a trade with everything he wanted. His latest success demonstrates how Ujiri can make trade magic in almost any feasible situation. His move brought in Serge Ibaka from Orlando in exchange for Terrence Ross and a first round pick. Though it occured weeks ago, it was the perfect Valentine’s gift for Raptors fans. Many questions arise from this trade like: “Will Ibaka stay past this year since he is a free agent at the end of the season?” Or “will he be a bust?” But let’s focus on what’s to be expected.

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Chris Vernon of the Ringer’s NBA show said that he “hated the trade”—for the Magic, and it’s hard to blame him. The Magic rid of the organization of a player who has made 3 All-NBA defensive teams (2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14), for Terrence Ross and a late first round pick. One thing that should fly off the sheet immediately is the fact that the trade didn’t include Patrick Patterson. Patterson was included in every possible trade for Paul Milsaup earlier in the year, so it is surprising that he was somehow not included in the trade for Ibaka. Majai knew that it was unlikely for Serge to stay with the Magic past this season, and the organization would make a trade soon because they didn’t want to lose him for nothing. This allowed the Raptors to add a prolific defender, on top of keeping a good defensive player in Patterson. This also allows for the Raptors to play a “death line up” of their own with Kyle LowryDemar DeRozan-Patterson-Ibaka, with some Corey Joseph, Demarre Carroll, and Norman Powell into that mix. Not only does this allow the Raptors to improve offensively, but when this line is on the floor the Raptors will have optimal floor spacing with every player, excluding DeRozan, shooting at an admirable 3-point percentage. Ibaka is impressively shooting a career high 39% from behind the arc this year.

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Toronto will no doubt miss the high-flying, 2013 slam dunk champ Terrence Ross. via CaribFocus Mag

With Terrence Ross now out of the Raptor portrait, it cannot be denied that this will open up Powell’s development more than he has already shown throughout his second year in the league. Powell is the team’s most valued trade asset and if there is no future for Powell in the organization, then it gives him the opportunity to show his potential and increase his value. This has been the biggest trade of the season thus far and the potential of its impact on the Raptors organization is incredible. The Raptors are now 3-0 since the addition of the new surge of Ibaka.

Waiver Wire: Iman Shumpert is the Man in Cleveland

By Too Buzzy 
Welcome back to another week of Fantasy basketball action. We’re about a month of way from seeing your first-round draft picks put on a show in the annual and highly anticipated NBA All-Star Weekend.

Last week, Penny Hardaway was inducted into the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame (about time); rumour has it if Chris Bosh is healthy enough to play next season, the Bulls want first dibs (that’s apparently “news” to Dwyane Wade); and Russell Westbrook — a guy who is averaging a triple-double per game, didn’t claim a starting spot in the Western Conference All-Star lineup. 

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(Left to right) James Harden, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard fill the 2017 Western Conference starting line up. via NBA

Iman Shumpert leads this week’s waiver wire. To read the full article, click here.

Raptors Take Game 2 Against Pacers in Playoff Round 2

By Too Buzzy
After a disappointing Game 1 loss, the Toronto Raptors even the series with a 98-87 win over the Indiana Pacers

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Jonas Valanciunas comes up big with playoff career-high 23 points, 15 rebounds in Game 2. Photo by Tom Szcerbowski/Getty Images

Game 3 is set for Thursday, April 21st @7:30pm in Indianapolis.