Monday, May 5, 2014

2014 NBA Playoff: Conference Semi-Finals Picks

The HEAT and Pacers should make easy work of the Nets and Wizards in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, but the Western Conference Semifinals could lead to another pair of Game 7s.

HEAT vs. Nets
Prediction: HEAT in 4

Explanation: If Ray Allen is knocking down shots, then the HEAT have dominant advantages at SG, SF and PF. If Ray isn't knocking down shots, then it's important for Spoelstra to give James Jones some burn immediately to keep the pressure on the Nets and sweep them out of the playoffs. Deron Williams, Mason Plumlee and Game 7 KG are the Nets' best hope to win a game in this series. It's up to Mario Chalmers, Udonis Haslem, Chris Bosh and the HEAT defense to make sure that doesn't happen.

Pacers vs. Wizards
Prediction: Pacers in 5

Explanation: This is a bad matchup for the Wizards. Lance Stephenson and Paul George should dominate Bradley Beal and Trevor Ariza on the perimeter. Monster performances from Marcin Gortat, Nene and John Wall are the only hopes for the Wizards to extend the series, unless the Pacers give away massive amounts of points to the Wizards in transition off turnovers.

Spurs vs. Blazers
Prediction: Blazers in 6

Explanation: This series comes down to the backcourt. Damian Lillard has to outplay Tony Parker and Wes Matthews needs to slow down Manu Ginobili the way he slowed down James Harden. The Blazers frontcourt should be able to handle its matchups on the glass and keep the team in the game as long as LaMarcus Aldridge and Lillard can kill the Spurs with their midrange games. The Spurs struggled with the Mavericks offense last round and the Blazers offense is slightly better than that.

Thunder vs. Coons
Prediction: Thunder in 4

Explanation: My head said pick the Thunder in 7 but my heart wants the LA Coons out of the playoffs ASAP, so I'm rooting for CP3 to get hurt battling with Russell Westbrook. If that doesn't happen, then Scott Brooks needs to outcoach Doc River. Kevin Durant will dominate, but Brooks needs to manage his rotation to tilt the backcourt and center matchups in the Thunder's favor. That means alot of Reggie Jackson and Westbrook lineups and no hesitation to replace Kendrick Perkins with Steven Adams if Perk doesn't keep DeAndre Jordan off the offensive glass and the nightly highlights. The biggest key in the series is Westbrook. If he outplays CP3, the Thunder win.

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