Just because the Pelicans didn’t make the playoffs doesn’t mean that the NBA season is over. So far we have all been gifted with an absolutely terrific first round of action and now what looks like a thrilling round two.
Because the staff here at Pelican Debrief has been as enthralled with the action as you all have we decided to take a shot at predicting how each of the second round series would play out. Below are the picks:
1-Indiana Pacers vs. 5. Washington Wizards
Chris: Pacers in 6. I still think that despite the constant struggling in the 1st round the Pacers are a good basketball team. The body language issues we saw for a long team appear to be gone and not coming back and I think a lot of their struggles had to do with the Hawks being a bad matchup for them. The Wizards can’t go 5 out and have everybody shoot an insane amount of 3′s like the Hawks can so I will take Pacers in this series.
Rick: Pacers in 6. I get all the love for the Wizards, but let’s hold up a bit. The Wizards really struggled scoring against Indiana in the regular season, and while the Pacers look very different, the matchups don’t favor Washington. The Wiz don’t have a real defensive answer to David West, while Paul George should be able to handle John Wall. Unless Washington can get hot from behind the arc or force a ton of turnovers, it will be tough to see them win.
Andrew: Pacers in 6. I believe after watching the Pacers play Atlanta in Game 7 of their last series, this team has found its love of the game again. They seemed to run around the court and enjoy themselves, especially Roy Hibbert, who without, I probably would have picked Washington in six. So congratulations Roy, you got your team my vote.
Matt: Wizards in 7. I think the Pacers are a good team but I think we are about to see a version of John Wall that we haven’t before. If Roy Hibbert continues to be a step slow and ineffective Wall will carve up the interior of the Pacers defense. I think Nene plays David West to a standstill meaning Paul George has to outplay Wall and at this point I don’t think he will.
2. Miami Heat vs. 6. New Jersey Nets
Chris: Heat in 4. The Heat have the better starting lineup, a better bench and a better coach. The only reason to give Brooklyn any chance is that they swept the regular season. But I really don’t put much stock into that. The Heat have earned benefit of the doubt concerning the regular season.
Rick: Heat in 5. We can talk all we want about Brooklyn posing tough matchups, they didn’t look threatening in the first round. For all we talk about their veteran leadership, it failed to show in a series they almost gave away to Toronto. Other than Joe Johnson, no Net has gotten a real rhythm. Miami looked very comfortable and now rested after their sweep, and should make easy work of a Nets team that could have used a lot more rest.
Andrew:Heat in 4. All that will be talked about with this series is how the Nets dominated the Heat all season long. Unfortunately for Brooklyn, this Heat team still has the best player in the world, who is surely going to turn on his switch and seek revenge. This in mind, goodbye Brooklyn. It’s been fun watching Seven Time All-Star Joe Johnson these playoffs, but your run is done.
Matt: Heat in 4. The three best players in this series are LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. They all play for Miami. So yeah, the Heat cruise.
1. San Antonio Spurs vs. 5. Portland TrailBlazers
Chris: Spurs in 5. The Blazers have had a great season where they exceeded just about everybody’s expectations. Unfortunately for them I don’t see any way they can beat the Spurs. I’ll admit, it was surprising to see Dallas take the Spurs as far as they did, and the Spurs did look slightly vulnerable. But the way the Spurs tore apart the Mavericks’s defense in Game 7 is a sign of what they can do against a bad defense. The Blazers will keep games close because of their deadeye 3 point shooting. The defense will be their downfall in a 5 game series that will be closer than the series record will show.
Rick: Blazers in 7. WOAH! This seems a passing-of-the-guard game. San Antonio will struggle to slow down LaMarcus Aldridge or Damien Lillard throughout the series. While Duncan and Parker should play well, it hasn’t been a strong playoffs so far for the bench of the Spurs. Portland has been able to score the ball at will, and their crunch time execution in the first round was very impressive. The new “Western Conference Power” could arise if Portland can beat the veteran Spurs.
Andrew: Spurs in 6. Portland had a fun run against the Rockets and I’m going to not so secretly root for Portland to pull this one out. But, come on, this is the Spurs; they’re going to win this.
Matt: Spurs in 6. I won’t be the guy to pick the team with the awful defense over Gregg Popovich and his brilliant offense. It should be a fun series though.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder vs. 3 Los Angeles Clippers
Chris: Thunder in 7. I could see this series going either way really. The Clippers defense hasn’t been an issue thanks to key defensive bench contributions. Deandre Jordan has become the player everybody wanted him to be. Nobody was ever sure Jordan would make the jump he has made this season but he’s a different player and a major game changer. Blake Griffin has also made a jump going from really good star player to a superstar top 10 player. Then of course there’s Chris Paul being the point god and J.J. Redick’s three-point shooting. The Clippers have the far superior coach in Doc Rivers and it sounds almost insane at this point to not take them. As great as the Clippers are, as many weapons as they have, and even with a superior coach. Until they show that they can contain Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the edge is going to go to the Thunder. The complaints about the Thunder’s coaching aside, they have a system that works and one that has worked for many years. Now if they’re going to beat the Clippers they’ll need solid bench play and for Serge Ibaka to play some of the best defense he’s ever played. Both teams have a great shot at winning, it’s really gonna just come down to who makes more key plays and which superstar has the best series.
Rick: Thunder in 6. Kevin Durant is finally finding his rhythm, and with the Clippers best player to guard him being Matt Barnes, he could go off for a huge series. Serge Ibaka,Kendrick Perkins and Steven Adams should do a better job against Blake Grifin and DeAndre Jordan than Golden State did, and OKC has the firepower with Russell Westbrook and Reggie Jackson to put the Clippers in trouble early. Unless the acquisitions the Clips made in the offseason (Danny Granger, Hedo Turkoglu and Glen Davis) step up big, OKC should be able to handle the Clippers.
Andrew: Thunder in 5. Kevin Durant found his way in the last two games of the series, and unfortunately for LA, they don’t have anyone who can properly defend him. No one really does, but the Clippers REALLY doesn’t. Iceberg Slim and Russell Bestbrook make appearances in this series, locking up an OKC vs. SAS conference final. Let’s get ready to rumble folks, it’s going to be a good one.
Matt: Thunder in 7. If Chris Paul was healthy I would have taken the Clippers but he is dealing with a malady on injuries so I just can’t. I can say this will be by far the best series of the round though.