The second round of the 2015 NBA playoffs is under way. There are four highly intriguing matchups, and it’s almost a guarantee that the brooms can be put away as no team is going to be sweeping the other in this round. We start off with the predictions for the Western Conference:
Golden State Warriors (1) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (5)
Prediction: Warriors in 5
The teams are polar opposites, which could make for a fun series. The Warriors a ‘run-and-gun’ style team, slinging three point shots from all over the place. If it’s shot in the front court, out of Curry or Thompson’s hands, it’s a good shot.
The Grizzlies on the other hand, are arguably the roughest, toughest team the NBA has to offer. They grind you out in half court sets, very rarely beaten to a loose ball.
Three point shots will be key in this series. The Warriors led the league in both 3-point percentage at nearly 40%, and in total number of threes attempted. The Grizzlies? They attempt the second fewest amount of three point shots in the league, with very limited success. If the Warriors keep this series at a frenetic pace and find themselves shooting loads of transition triples, this series could be over and out quickly.
For the Grizzlies to win this series, they’ll need to slow the game right down and turn it into a slug-fest. If you look at the matchups, technically Draymond Green will have to guard Zach Randolph. Randolph has two inches and thirty pounds on Green. Green is an elite defender, but size could make all the difference.
So this one is simple. Run-and-gun, the Warriors win. Slow and steady, the Grizzlies have a shot.
Click ‘Next’ to see our predictions for the Clippers-Rockets series!
Houston Rockets (2) vs Los Angeles Clippers (3)
Prediction: Clippers in 6
The Clippers did what many thought was impossible in the first round. Beat the San Antonio Spurs in the playoffs. The Rockets meanwhile made light work of the Dallas Mavericks and won in 5.
The season series was split 2-2, but those numbers are almost completely irrelevant. Dwight Howard missed all four games, while Blake missed two of them. With both superstars healthy and ready to rumble, this one will be a clash of the titans.
There are some seriously exciting matchups to keep an eye on here. First up is Chris Paul vs his hamstring. Can the perennial all-star keep healthy for the entire series? The Rockets have been forced to start Jason Terry at the point, with the majority of the ball handling duties being given to James Harden. That still means that Terry would have to check Paul on the defensive end.
The Rockets would be forced to guard Paul by committee, which should lead to open shooters around the floor. If Chris Paul can stay healthy, he could very well tear this series apart.
Blake Griffin also has that opportunity against Terrence Jones and Josh Smith, while Dwight Howard will also pose problems for the Clippers against DeAndre Jordan. The Clippers bench and their depth will be tested, meaning LA’s starters have to perform each and every night.
James Harden will be called upon to do most of the damage for the Rockets. J.J. Redick won’t be able to guard him alone, so very much like Chris Paul, the Clippers will have to help Redick often. Harden was an MVP candidate all season, and hearing he didn’t win it will only put more of a chip on his shoulder.
LA simply pose to many matchup issues, and have failed to many times in the past to let this one slip.
Click ‘Next’ to see our predictions for the Hawks-Wizards series!
Atlanta Hawks (1) vs. Washington Wizards (5)
Prediction: Hawks in 7
The Atlanta Hawks will take on the blazing hot Washington Wizards in their second round matchup. The Hawks may have gone into the playoffs as the best team in the East, but they sure have some competition now.
The Wizards completely dismantled the Raptors in the first round, sweeping the series 4-0. Actually the Wizards spent more time with a double digit, than the Raptors spent with a lead at all.
The Hawks took 6 games to take care of the Brooklyn Nets, but never really looked like the second best team. It’ll take the Hawks one more game to get the job done in this series.
It will be one hell of a battle to claim the low post. Al Horford and Paul Millsap vs Marcin Gortat and Nene. Atlanta have the slight advantage there, with both of their guys being able to spread the floor a little better, even extending their range to the three point arc.
The season series stands at 3-1 in Atlanta’s favor. The only game they lost in the series was the last, and they sat their starters after clinching just about everything they could. The first and third games were close, but a worrying factor for Wizards fan might be that second game. The Hawks closed out that game on a 33-12 run, notching up a 31-point blowout.
The Wizards are on fire right now, so there should be no sight a blowout in this series, but the Hawks are an excellent team. They are the East’s #1
Click ‘Next’ to see our predictions for the Cavaliers-Bulls series!
Cleveland Cavaliers (2) vs. Chicago Bulls (3)
Prediction: Cavs in 7
With the loss of Kevin Love for the remainder of the season, and J.R. Smith for Game 1 and 2, Cleveland must call upon their seasoned veterans to lead the charge off the bench. LeBron will likely see time at the four spot, with Tristan Thompson and Iman Shumpert seeing extended court time as well.
The Bulls will push the Cavaliers to the absolute brink in what will be an extremely exciting series. Rose vs Kyrie, LeBron vs Jimmy Butler, Mozgov vs Noah. All the matchups tell us that this will be a tough one to win.
If the Bulls are to pull this one through, it will be through the depth of their bench. Aaron Brooks, Kirk Hinrich, Tony Snell, E’Twaun Moore, Doug McDermott, Nicola Mirotic, Taj Gibson and Nazr Mohammed. The list kind of goes on and on.
Depth is all good and well, but there’s one thing the Cavs have, that the Bulls don’t. LeBron James. James loves playing, and beating the Bulls. LeBron has a career record of 24-20 against the Chicago Bulls, but the playoffs is a different animal.
James has played three playoff series against the Chicago Bulls in his career, (two with the Heat and one with the Cavs) and won all three series 4-1. In 44 career games against the Bulls, LeBron has never scored less than 16 points, and has a career average of 27.2 PPG.
For the Bulls to win the series they will have to call upon Jimmy Butler to score, facilitate, and guard LeBron James at a high level. No pressure, kid.