NBA Playoff Predictions

western conference

  1. Golden State Warriors: Is anyone surprised by this? I’m pretty sure the Warriors are the most star-studded team since the ’86 Celtics.
  2. San Antonio Spurs: I actually think the Spurs will be the ones to take out the Warriors in a series. They’re a versatile team while the Warriors are only good from outside the paint. Plus, the Spurs have a defense- something the Warriors are lacking.
  3. Los Angeles Clippers: This might be the year for the Clippers. Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and Deandre Jordan are all returning yet again, plus JJ Reddick can knock a clutch three down when you need him to. The Clippers are a solid team.
  4. Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard is hunting for MVP. He probably won’t win, but he’s shooting for it nonetheless. CJ McCollum is back after a good year last year, and the Trail Blazers are building up steam.
  5. Utah Jazz: The Jazz are a young team with a ton of potential. They don’t have any huge All-Stars with the exception of Gordon Hayward, and they have the ability to score inside and out.
  6. Houston Rockets: James Harden is essentially this entire team, and if the Donatas Motiejunas trade went through at the trade deadline last year, James Harden would be this entire team. Harden is good enough, though, to get this team to the playoffs.
  7. Minnesota Timberwolves: Yes, I am hopping on the Timberwolves bandwagon. The Timberwolves have shown some improvement over the past couple seasons and the contributions from Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins will take this team into the postseason.
  8. Dallas Mavericks: I was contemplating leaving the Mavericks out of the playoffs this year, but they’ve made the playoffs so many times in the past 15 years that I just can’t count them out. Dallas is a playoff basketball team.

eastern conference

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavs are really good. As much as I may not be a fan of them, I have to admit that Kyrie Irving and Lebron James are good enough to take Cleveland to the finals for a third year in a row.
  2. Toronto Raptors: Kyle Lowry, Demar DeRozan, and Jonas Valanciunas are a force to be reckoned with. When any of them heat up they make things happen.
  3. Detroit Pistons: This may be a bit high for the Pistons, but I’m optimistic for my hometown team. They are a true team with every single  current starter averaging 10 points per game, and none of them averaging more than 18. Any of their players has the ability to score, and I am excited to see them compete for a title. The Pistons defense is also a real threat too. I think that they will be able to hold teams to under 90 points in about 70% of their games this season.
  4. Boston Celtics: Boston had the opportunity to make a dynasty from this past year’s draft. Unfortunately, I think they struck out. That being said, they still have a good team and a quality point guard in Isiah Thomas.
  5. Chicago Bulls: If you asked me where the Bulls would place at the end of last season, I would have said probably around the 9th or 10th spot in the east. After they magically lured Dwayne Wade away from Miami, now they’re a top five team. Rajon Rondo has the ability to dish the ball to anyone he chooses. Wade and Jimmy Butler are good options.
  6. Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks have some offensive and defensive strategies that need to be worked out. Right now they are playing through Giannis Antetokounmpo, and it doesn’t seem to be working out. Once they figure out that Giannis isn’t the best option to play a point forward, they’ll be a nightmare to play defense against.
  7. Charlotte Hornets: Charlotte has had it’s fair share of rough seasons over the years. This year could be very similar to their 2015-16 season. After they lost Al Jefferson (for the best) they now start Cody Zeller at the five spot. This will be a better option in the long run. Kemba Walker and Nicholas Batum will also be able to provide good numbers night-in and night-out.4
  8. Atlanta Hawks: This was a toss-up between the Hawks, Pacers, Knicks, and the Heat, but I had to give it to the team that has played the best so far. The Hawks have looked good, and I have been impressed by their offensive ability. I also wasn’t about to hop on the Knicks bandwagon.

Jake Carroll covers the NBA at MFST. You can follow him on Twitter at @carrjaco14 .

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