March Madness may be over but now it’s the NBA Playoffs Round 1 time. At the time of writing Game 2 of each series is in progress.
In the Western Conference the top seed is the Golden State Warriors (1), followed by Denver Nuggets (2), Portland Trailblazers (3), Houston Rockets (4), Utah Jazz (5), Oklahoma City Thunder (6), San Antonio Spurs (7) and LA Clippers (8).
In Game 1 the Warriors comfortably got the win over the Clippers but Game 2 on Monday was a thriller. The Clippers played an aggressive game doing better on field goals and 3 pointer accuracy and managed more steals and personal fouls. They even had fewer free throws. In the dying seconds of the second half the Warriors had a chance to take it to OT but failed due to good defense from the road team. We’re sure neutrals really love an underdog throwing up a surprise result. Let the Playoffs have more of this! (Sorry Warriors)
Meanwhile, in the Eastern Conference the top seed is Milwaukee Bucks (1), followed by Toronto Raptors (2), Philadelphia 76ers (3), Boston Celtics (4), Indiana Pacers (5), Brooklyn Nets (6), Orlando Magic (7) and Detroit Pistons (8).
In Game 1, Magic upset the Raptors 101-104 on the road. Guard DJ Augustin racked up 25 points and six assists in just 30 minutes of court time. In the end the difference turned out to be Orlando’s better shooting from outside the arc. The lower seeded Spurs also defeated their higher ranked rivals Nuggets, thanks to a stronger first half.
Here you can see our bracket for the NBA Playoffs 2019:
So, based on as it stands and the goings on in each roster, we’ve come up with our predictions for each series and put up our bracket for the NBA Finals 2019. Are we going to be completely off? Maybe. Let us know what you think about our predictions.
First, we take a look at the stronger of the two Conferences -- in recent times at least – the West.
The four-time consecutive West conference winners and the winners of 3 of the last 4 NBA finals are really hard to bet against. But let’s consider what’s happened so far in this round 1 series.
LA Clippers forward Danilo “Gallo” Gallinari’s points per game in the 2018-19 regular NBA season were 19.8. He’s been in the playoffs only twice before though with the Denver Nuggets back in 2011 and 2012. He averages 12.8 PPG at this stage. In game 1 he scored 15 points. Gallo didn’t stop there and dominated in game 2, racking up 24 points with 6 assists and 4 rebounds. This guy is fired up! We predict he will continue to do much better than his career average in this series. That obviously is not good for the warriors.
Then you have forward Montrezl Harrell who is getting more playing time than ever before. In game 1 he scored 26 points in 30 minutes. In game 2 he played more minutes and scored 25 points. He looks like a reliable weapon on offense so we expect him to keep it up for the rest of the games in this matchup.
Meanwhile, in Kevin Durant the Warriors have a player who has been almost ever present in the playoffs this decade. He is an experienced campaigner and Durant’s consistency is mind blowing. He may be one of the few players in the NBA who actually improvedtheir PPG in the playoffs. Certainly, he is the star man for the Warriors and if they are to win the NBA finals yet again, he has to perform.
Despite the seeding and probabilities, we’ll stick our heads out of the window and predict the LA Clippers to take this series. As coach Doc Rivers said in the team locker room after the Clippers’ unexpected comeback win “We’re roaches. You can’t kill us!”
In game 1 Rockets Guard James Harden posted 29 points and contributed 10 assists. He has a career-best PPG of 36.1 in the 2018-2019 regular NBA season. Harden is also very experienced in the Playoffs, featuring every single post-season this decade. Of course, as the current NBA MVP, we expect Harden to continue his domination on the court.
For Utah Jazz, Center Rudy Gobert looks to be in good form. He performed well based on his playoff history.
If Utah are to have any chance in this series, they really have to start getting some points in the paint. Not to mention that their 3-point shooting has to go way up at this stage.
Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder made a strange remark just before his team’s crucial round 1 playoff game, stating Rocket’s Point Guard Chris Paul is “probably a better coach than me”. Despite what they’re up against, we expect Utah to challenge the Rockets but Houston will probably take this one. We predict a 4-2 win for the Rockets.
Portland’s Point Guard Damian Lillard was one of the best players in game 1. He scored 30 points, which is much better than his career playoff average. The Thunder’s defense is going to struggle to keep the Trail Blazers backcourt in check. It remains to be seen whether Portland miss starting Center Jusuf Nurkic who is out with an injury.
On the other hand the OKC Thunder have Point Guard Russell Westbrook and Forward Paul George who can be real game winners. Thunder did a 4-0 sweep of Portland in the regular season so they’re no chumps.
In game 1 the difference between victory and defeat was the 3-pointer accuracy with Portland (0.44) doing much better than Thunder (0.152). Thunder’s saving grace may be their ability to create turnovers.
We predict Portland Trail Blazers to take this series 4-1.
Game 1 was truly a team performance by the Spurs. Five players reached double figures in points scored. Spurs matched the Denver Nuggets step for step and then some. In the next games of the series, DeMar DeRozan is the key figure for San Antonio.
Nuggets’ Guard Jamal Murray might have a big part to play in the Playoffs picture as well.
We expect a close series and the Nuggets to win 4-3.
Now let’s turn our attention to the Eastern Conference.
Milwaukee is not only seeded number 1 in the Eastern Conference they have brilliant players like the Greek Freak Giannis Antetokounmpo playing as forward and guard. Geez, talk about athletic ability at the highest level.
Meanwhile, the Pistons are sorely missing star Blake Griffin. In game 1 the Pistons had to rely primarily on their Shooting Guards Luke Kennard, Reggie Jackson and Khyri Thomas. The starting forwards could get a measly 6 combined points. It’s just not looking good for Detroit.
We expect the Bucks to take this 4-0.
In this 4-5 seeds matchup, it’s hard to call who the best performing players will be and which team is superior on paper.
For the Celtics, Power Forward Marcus Morris Sr. had a good game 1. But he’s not the type of player to sustain good performances in post-season and carry his team to the finals. Forward Jayson Tatum and Guard Kyrie Irving will be instrumental in Boston’s hopes.
The Indiana Pacers, on the other hand, will be stronger on the paint. We expect them to attempt more layups and to also catch more offensive rebounds.
This is probably the hardest matchup to call, so we’re going with a 4-3 Pacers win.
There are times when you read stories of athletes that are so inspirational you can’t help but be moved. The 76ers Shooting Guard Jimmy Butler is a guy who had tumultuous times as a youth. He overcame it all and maybe his athletic success is because of his never say die attitude. Butler was the number 127 rated prospect out of junior college. After an Olympic gold medal with the US team and continuing success in the NBA, we’re truly delighted to see him score 36 points in game 1.
For the Brooklyn Nets, hopes rest to a large extent on the shoulders of Guard D’Angelo Russel. Surprise package of game 1 for the Brooklyn Nets was Forward Caris LeVert. We hope these guys carry their team to the next round but it seems unlikely given the mismatch in quality in this matchup.
We think 76ers will take this 4-2
Thanks to a stellar performance by Guard DJ Augustin, Orlando Magic eked out a narrow 101-104 victory in game 1 to upset the Raptors. Orlando was much better than their opponents at shooting from beyond the arc as well as free throws. Can this advantage over the Raptors be maintained throughout the series?
The Raptors looked rather lethargic and unwilling to dive in, apply pressure on guard duty or attempt to block the Magic offense. If the Raptors can cause turnovers by Magic they should be able to dominate the series.
We predict a 4-1 series win for the Toronto Raptors.
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