By Kelton Brooks (@BrooksWeekly)
The 2015 NBA Playoffs start Saturday. Who’s moving on to the next round and who’s going fishing?
(1) Golden State Warriors vs. (8) New Orleans Pelicans
Anthony Davis will win the league’s MVP trophy in the near future. He will surely win Defensive Player of the Year some day as well, but MVP favorite Stephen Curry and the Golden States Warriors is too big of a fish for the Pelicans to swallow.
The Splash Bros, Curry and Klay Thompson, ranked first and second respectively(286, 239), in made 3-point field goals. Davis won’t be enough to block or stop all the long balls by Curry and Co., but he’ll show the world why he’s considered the best young big man in the league.
Prediction: Warriors in 5
(2) Houston Rockets vs. (7) Dallas Mavericks
James Harden’s performance has been un-beard-lievable this season for the Rockets. He averaged a career-high of 27.4 ppg, catapulting himself into the MVP conversation, which is also impressive in the absence of Dwight Howard.
Harden has been bounced at the playoffs in six games the past two seasons. Although, a first-round matchup against a Mavericks team still figuring out its identity since acquiring combative point guard Rajon Rondo, is a sigh of release for Harden.
The Rockets three-game wining streak at the end the season was vital in dodging the San Antonio Spurs in the first round. Harden and the Rockets will advance.
Prediction: Rockets in 6
(3) Los Angeles Clippers vs (6) San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs are not your typical 6th seed. San Antonio is the defending champions and have reached the Finals in back-to-back seasons. The veteran trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, as well as the soon-to-be leader of the team in Kawhi Leonard, have one goal in mind, another champion
This is a defining series for Clippers guard Chris Paul. He’s undoubtedly a superstar point guard, but he has yet to reach the Finals or Conference Finals during his nine-year career. Paul needs this series win for his legacy and to not fall into the category of one of the greats to never capture a ring.
But those talks will start after this series.
Prediction: Spurs in 6
(4) Memphis Grizzlies vs. (5) Portland Trailblazers
Both teams struggled down the stretch. The Grizzlies lost two of its last three and squeaked by the lowly Utah Jazz in an 89-88 victory. The Trailblazers were banged up losing Nicolas Batum and C.J. McCollum to injury. Both are listed day-to-day.
But the Grizzlies are still the better team and has dominated the Blazers in recent years.
Since the 2012 season, Memphis has bullied Portland, winning nine of 11 games. The Grizzlies swept Portland in the regular season 4-0. The City of Blues will send Portland home on a sad note.
Prediction: Grizzlies in 5
(1) Atlanta Hawks vs. (8) Brooklyn Nets
At one point during the season, the Nets were 12-31 and thinking about if they would have the opportunity to select Jahlil Okafor or Karl Anthony-Towns in the NBA draft. Now, everyone knows ‘where Brooklyn at,’ and that’s in the playoffs.
But it won’t last long. The Hawks have ran the table since the beginning of the season, including a franchise record 19-game winning steak. Brooklyn is barely a road block in Atlanta’s path.
Prediction: Hawks in 4
(2) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (7) Boston Celtics
I’ll keep this brief and simple: the Cavaliers have LeBron James, 4-time regular season MVP and 2-times Finals MVP. Not to mention a superstar in the making in Kyrie Irving.
According to ESPN Stast&Info, James has played 158 playoff games. The entire Celtics roster has played 139.
Prediction: Cavaliers in 4
(3) Chicago Bulls vs. (6) Milwaukee Bucks
Kudos to Jason Kidd and Bucks’ GM John Hammond for guiding the baby Bucks to the playoffs.
Milwaukee has played stellar defense over the second half of the season, but locking down the raucous crowd in the United Center as they cheer on the resurgent Derrick Rose and the Bulls, will be too much for the Bucks.
Speaking of Rose, the matchup between he and Milwaukee’s Michael Carter-Williams is an intriguing bout.
Prediction: Bulls in 6
(4) Toronto Raptors vs. (5) Washington Wizards
This series is going to take a Game 7. This is by far the best series in the opening round of the Eastern Conference. John Wall averaged the first double-double of his career (17.6 ppg, 10 ast) and averaged 19 points and nine assist in the three game against the Raptors this season.
The Raptors have won seven of its last 10 games and won all three games versus the Wizards this season.
Bradley Beal has been in-and-out of the lineup all season with nagging injuries, but if he can stay healthy during this series he and Wall can elevate themselves as one of the top backcourts in the league.
And they will.
Prediction: Wizards in 7