The editors for WashingtonWizards.com, Jacob Raim and Jeremy Hyman, take a crack at predicting the outcomes for each of the NBA's second round playoff series.
First Round: Jeremy ( 5-3 ) | Jacob ( 7-1 )
Heat vs. Bulls
Jeremy - This could be a much better series if Chicago could get some healthy bodies back. Nobody could believe they were able to take down the Nets with such a depleted roster, but it goes to show you what kind of team they are made of. They have a great coach in Tom Thibodeau and they all believe in the system. They will certainly play hard and give Miami a run for their money, but ultimately the Heat have too much talent and the grit of the Bulls won't be enough to slay the defending champs. I think they can beat them once in Chicago, so I'll say Heat in 5.
Jacob - The Nets completely fell apart at the end of their series with the Bulls but that won’t happen with the Heat. The Bulls are really banged up and will have a lot of trouble with the Heat at full health. Rose, despite rumors swirling, probably won’t play in the series. Deng and Hinrich are out right now and Noah is playing hurt. The Bulls did split the season series 2-2 and stopped Miami’s 27 game winning streak but this should be a pretty quick series for Miami who looks to be ready to run through the East. Noah and Boozer could give the Heat a little bit of trouble on both ends of the floor thanks to their physical style of play and Robinson has been playing at the highest level of his career. But the Bulls, like everybody else, will have no answer for James and Wade and won’t come close to scoring with Miami. Heat in 5
Knicks vs. Pacers
Jeremy - I'm looking forward to seeing how this series shakes out as both teams have a lot to prove in my eyes. This was a great series from the late 90's when Reggie Miller had some memorable moments at MSG and Patrick Ewing was manning the middle for the Knicks. The Pacers were finally able to win on the road when they beat the Hawks in Game 6, while the Knicks also needed 6 games to defeat a Celtics team that showed a ton of heart. The Knicks need Carmelo to be a superstar in this series and need their 3-pointers to fall to beat a tough defensive team in Indiana. The Pacers will need Paul George to show that he is now one of the NBA's elite players and need their role players to play a factor in the series. I'm still not sold on the Knicks and think the Pacers can do enough offensively to win the series and move on to the Eastern Conference Finals. Pacers in 6.
Jacob – Neither of these teams particularly impressed me in the first round and I’m excited to see who steps up here. Points are going to be at a serious premium as both teams were ranked top seven in the NBA in points allowed per game. The Knicks though possess the weapons to light up the scoreboard where as the Pacers do not. Anthony may be a bit banged up but was the NBA’s scoring leader and the Pacers will have to devise most of their game plan around stopping him. Paul George is going to be the one on Anthony all series, and when the Knicks go small, David West may end up defending somebody like Iman Shumpert, a very odd matchup for him. Chris Copeland can also be a big matchup problem playing the 5 as Hibbert hates to leave the paint. On the other end, Chandler can handle Hibbert. The Knicks will create enough matchup problems and assuming they don’t let the offense go stagnant like they did for much of the Celtics series, they should have too much offense for the Pacers. Knicks in 6
Spurs vs. Warriors
Jeremy - I wrote that I thought the Warriors were still a year or two away from being a team that could advance in the playoffs but I was wrong. They are ready now. Steph Curry has the ability to win a game all by himself as he showed in round 1. When the team lost David Lee early in the series, I did not think they had any chance to still beat the Nuggets, but they showed that their young backcourt could prove to be the difference in a series. Now, they get an even tougher test against the battle-tested Spurs who cruised past the Lakers for a clean sweep in round 1. It is hard not to pick the Spurs, but this series won't be nearly as easy for them. Winning at Oracle Arena will be very difficult and it would not surprise me if this series goes the distance. I'll take the Spurs in 7.
Jacob – I really like watching Golden State. They are a ton of fun and with their wildly inconsistent play, you never really know what you are going to get. Unfortunately wildly inconsistent is not what works against San Antonio, arguably the most disciplined team in the NBA. Golden State tried so hard to give away game six to Denver but Denver refused to take the game and the Warriors snuck by. If they make close to that many mistakes against San Antonio, this one may only take four. The Spurs are well rested, and have the perimeter D to handle the Dubs. The Spurs allowed the second lowest 3 point shooting percentage in the league this year and that doesn’t bode well for Golden State’s 3 point shooting barrage. Stephen Curry is of course the x-factor and is playing on a different level than maybe anybody else in the playoffs but he can’t do it by himself. The Warriors front court could be thin as Bogut is still clearly hurt despite willing himself through round one and who knows how much Lee can play? This actually should be the highest scoring series of the second round with the Spurs scoring more than the Warriors. The Warriors are still a year away. Spurs in 5
Thunder vs. Grizzlies
Jeremy - One of the biggest storylines of the playoffs thus far has been the loss of Russell Westbrook and how the Thunder will play without him. He has been ruled out for the playoffs which I think removes the Thunder from being one of the title contenders. They struggled with the Rockets in round 1, but Kevin Durant stepped up in Game 6 to lead them to the 2nd round. This series could also go the distance and we could be in for some great playoff basketball. The Thunder have the big bodies to match up with the Grizzlies, but I still think that without Westbrook they fall to the Grizzlies in 6 games. Grizzlies in 6.
Jacob – The Grizzlies could be a big matchup problem for the Thunder due to their big, physical front court. But something tells me this isn’t where OKC goes down, even without Westbrook. The Grizzlies will throw a kitchen sink of smaller defenders at Durant including Allen, Pondexter and Prince but they didn’t give him much trouble during the regular season as Durant averaged over 30 a game against the Grizzlies. The big question for me is whether or not Martin can step up and provide Durant with enough scoring help and I think that with the focus the Grizzlies are going to give to Durant, he’s going to get a lot of good looks. When the Grizzlies have the ball, Nick Collison could be the key to the Thunder D as he has given Randolph some problems, and Ibaka can step out and defend Gasol. The Thunder can’t let the Grizzlies dictate the pace of this series because if it is played exclusively in the half court, the Thunder will struggle with the Grizzlies size. But if they can push the tempo, Durant will be the x-factor and push them past Memphis. Thunder in 7