With a heated MVP race and plenty of drama surrounding the remaining teams, this year’s NBA playoffs are closer than ever. Resident self-proclaimed basketball expert and jump shot aficionado Dylan Brister, a sophomore economics and history major from Gulfport, took a stab at predicting the first round of the NBA playoffs.
Golden State Warriors versus Portland TrailBlazers
Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum have talent for days, but I just can’t see them competing with Golden State, especially in their recent form with Kevin Durant back. The Warriors won all four of their regular season meetings, and I don’t think that will change anytime soon.
Warriors win 4-1
San Antonio Spurs versus Memphis Grizzlies
Two teams known for their defensive grit and respective Gasol brothers, this series could get interesting fast. Mike Conley and the Grizzlies will put up a fight but won’t be able to keep up with Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs’ depth.
Spurs win 4-2
Houston Rockets versus Oklahoma City Thunder
Mr. Triple Double meets the Beard in a battle of MVPs. Most of their regular season meetings were close, but the Rockets pulled out three wins from four games. Westbrook has demonstrated an ability to take over and win games, but I only see that earning him a game or two. The Rockets are overall a better team and should take the series.
Rockets win 4-3
Los Angeles Clippers versus Utah Jazz
The LA Clippers finally have a healthy roster and look to take advantage of it. Blake Griffin has been red-hot recently and should be interesting to see against a surging Utah team. The Jazz is solid, but the Clippers and their depth take it in six.
Clippers win 4-2
Boston Celtics versus Chicago Bulls
The Bulls have looked much-improved lately, and Butler has been nothing if not explosive. However, IT4 and the Celtics just seem like a better team. The Bulls and Jimmy Buckets upset the Celtics in game one, but I think Thomas and his team will pull out the series.
Celtics win 4-2
Cleveland Cavaliers versus Indiana Pacers
Paul George and Jeff Teague take on LeBron, Kyrie and Love: a battle of titans. The Cavs have looked very shaky in the past couple months and will not have an easy run to the finals. I doubt they go out this early, though, and if they get their act together, they’ll take it in five.
Cavaliers win 4-1
Toronto Raptors versus Milwaukee Bucks
With the addition of Serge Ibaka and return of Kyle Lowry, the Raptors look incredibly solid moving into these playoffs. With Jabari Parker out for the season, the Greek Freak and potential rookie of the year Malcolm Brogdon have a full load. The Bucks started off strong, but the Raptors and their habit of losing game ones will still advance.
Raptors win 4-2
Washington Wizards versus Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks have looked threatening recently, with two wins over LeBron and the Cavs in a week’s time. The Wizards are explosive, and the duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal combined with Otto Porter Jr. make Washington a smart bet.
Wizards win 4-3