Research

Predicting the National Basketball Association first round winners

Predicting the National Basketball Association first round winners

Would we see "the Warriors" in their full, domineering glory now that the "real season" was starting?

The sweep alert is out for the Rockets and Timberwolves, but this round is mostly about the Warriors surviving without Stephen Curry.

You have to feel for Omri Casspi and DeMarcus Cousins.

And given the way they played on Saturday, they might have sandbagged the entire league.

John Wall #2 of the Washington Wizards, Mike Scott #30 of the Washington Wizards and John Wall #2 of the Washington Wizards exit the court during the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on April 5, 2018 at The Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. The Celtics needed overtime, but they prevailed in the end, 113-107, behind a double-double from Tatum.

Corresponding points is given to a player who picks the victor of the series as well as the number of games correctly.

Who in their right mind would have expected Derrick Rose and Jamal Crawford to each outscore Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns?

Because Joel Embiid is the most fun. Against an offensive juggernaut with a much-improved defense in Toronto, they do not have much of a chance. Assuming Embiid plays in this series, it will not be that close. I may be underrating the power of the Six, but the Raptors just don't seem all that scary.

The five active officials with the most playoff experience are all headed back to the postseason this year: Ron Garretson, Ken Mauer, Mike Callahan, Derrick Stafford and Scott Foster have combined to work almost 1,000 playoff games.

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The question is whether Curry can return for the second round, which would mean a matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers or New Orleans Pelicans. The 76ers are going into the playoffs on a 16-game winning streak. How Washington faced the unexpected is a testament to the resiliency and inner strength of this team.

The matchup: Pacer point guard Victor Oladipo has flourished in his first season for in, and he looks like a bona fide superstar.

The Warriors took 'er easy all the way to the finish line this campaign, stalling and then coasting through the final month. "Process" backers will rejoice and likely demand a statue of Sam Hinkie outside of the Wells Fargo Center, pronto.

Klay Thompson led Golden State with 27 points (11-13 FG, 5-6 3PT); Kevin Durant followed him with 24 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, and a couple of steals, while JaVale McGee chipped in with 15 points, four boards, and a pair of rejections.

This is actually might be one of the most competitive series in the East. The Rockets exploded after the offseason addition of Chris Paul, finishing at 65-17. But the fun ends here.

It'll be fun to see old colleagues Steve Kerr and Mike D'Antoni head-to-head, but Kerr has a stronger hand to play here. Although this was the year James might have finally been stopped, it now looks as if he will have an easy road. Toronto, maybe, can knock off Cleveland in the semis.

Golden State dictated the terms of engagement with the Spurs from the opening tip. To start in the East, everyone knew seed five and below don't hold a chance.

In conclusion, my National Basketball Association finals prediction is Cavaliers and Rockets.

Add in the playoff experience of JJ Redick and Amir Johnson and, with last year's top seeds the Boston Celtics without superstar point guard Kyrie Irving, Brett Brown's team look well equipped to pull off further shocks. A fourth straight Warriors-Cavs matchup is no guarantee. He will, again, post some incredible numbers. He has played just nine games and isn't expected to return for the postseason.


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