Tuesday, May 5, 2015

2014-2015 NBA Playoffs Round 2 Preview (sport, gambling)

That Game 7 between the Spurs and the Clippers might have been the most entertaining non-Finals NBA game I've ever watched in real time. It was a crazy back and forth affair, and I don't think any team managed to get ahead by more than 6 points in the second half or hold a lead for more than a few minutes. Even if the grind of the long season makes you at best a casual NBA fan, the playoffs are definitely worth tuning in for.

Eastern Conference

Washington Wizards (5) at Atlanta Hawks (1)
Even with the great upset win on Sunday, I still think this series will go to Atlanta. This is just not a very good matchup for the Wizards, especially with Bradley Beal not being anywhere close to where he was last year. The Wizards' strength is their interior size and defense, and Atlanta essentially negates that with their spacing and shooting. The problem with that approach, of course, is that you will lose some games where you just go cold. The Hawks clearly relied too much on the three point shot at the tail end of game 1, but they were also just extremely unlucky with shots not going in. I expect the series to go to game 7, but what happens then will come down to whether those shots go in during that one game.

Chicago Bulls (3) at Cleveland Cavaliers (2)
Cleveland was never a very deep team to begin, so I don't think they can overcome the loss of Kevin Love. Without Kevin Love, they can't field an efficient small ball lineup, and their bigs Mozgov and Thompson are just way outclassed by Noah and Gasol. I think the Cavaliers win one, maybe two games at the most in this series, depending on how often Kyrie can go off.

Western Conference

Memphis Grizzlies (4) at Golden State Warriors (1)
A nightmare matchup for the Grizzlies, as Golden State is filled with players whose shots can go in no matter how good your defense is, while the Grizzlies are full of guys who aren't guaranteed to make open jump shots. Without Mike Conley, I wouldn't be surprised if this series ended in a sweep, but I think Warriors in 5 is the safe bet.

Los Angeles Clippers (3) at Houston Rockets (2)
Like I said in my first round preview, this is as prepared a Clippers team as any since the CP3 trade. The time spent without CP3 the past two seasons has made Blake Griffin into a superstar that can single-handedly carry this team of shooters, while the time spent without Blake has forced DeAndre Jordan into maturing his game. They'll still need Chris Paul, but winning the first game allows them to give him much more rest. With DeAndre Jordan now competitive against a past-his-prime Dwight Howard, James Harden just has too much of a burden to carry, surrounded by players well past their prime who aren't great shooters. This series should also go 5, depending on how much rest CP3 needs.

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