Craig Schaller

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CRAIG SCHALLER


OUT OF THE BOX!  Welcome to Craig Schaller's online column....



 

NBA PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS


It's finally time for the NBA postseason!  After a long grind of a season, and 82 games in the books, hardcourts come alive with playoff excitement.  So what will happen?  Who will upset whom?  Let's take a look at my thoughts about what I expect to happen in the NBA postseason this year.  


First round.  EASTERN CONFERENCE.


​--Indiana Pacers over Atlanta Hawks four games to one.  Indiana struggled down the strect, especially offensively, but should still have no problems with the Hawks.  The Pacers still have the best record in the East, and have size, with multiple 7-footers, speed, athletic ability and can make big shots.  Atlanta has nothing to lose, and if they play loose, can be dangerous, but I still don't think they get more than one game.


--Miami Heat over the Charlotts Bobcats four games to none.  The Heat are the Heat.  They still are the defending champs.  They are relatively healthy, and have been here before.  The Bobcats can't say any of those things.  They are young, have little playoff experience, and can't really shoot the ball well.  Looks like a classic mismatch to me.


--Brooklyn Nets over the Toronto Raptors four games to two.  The difference here could be playoff experience.  The Nets are loaded with it, while the Raptors have little to none.  Toronto has been dissed by every playoff team in the East though, as two or three teams seemed to be angling to get them in a first round matchup, and the lack of respect could drive the Raptors.  I just think the Nets have too much talent and experience.


--Chicago Bulls over the Washington Wizards four games to one.  The Bulls play defense like none other, well, except for maybe Indiana.  They have been there before and are well playoff tested.  The Wiz are young and inexperienced, although they may have more talent than the Bulls on paper.  You don't win playoff series' on paper though, and the Bulls experience and suffocating defense should be more than enough to beat Washington fairly easily.


First round, WESTERN CONFERENCE.


--San Antonio Spurs over the Dallas Mavericks four games to two.  The Spurs are the best team in the NBA over the last fifteen years or so and we know they are playoff tested.  Problem is, most of the Spurs stars are on the wrong side of 30, and you wonder how many runs they have left in them.  You can say the same thing about Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs too though.  If Dirk can revert to 2011 form, the Mavs would have a chance, but overall, Dallas just doesn't defend well enough to beat the top seeded Spurs.  They could make things interesting though.


--Oklahoma City Thunder over the Memphis grizzlies four games to three.  This could be the most exciting series in the NBA first round.  NO ONE wanted to play the Grizz, who aren't all that talented, but use their size and slow things down and muck things up so much that they are usually right there at the end of games.  Russell Westbrook is the key here.  He is fully healthy now and if he can play in control and within the framework of the offense, should lead this team to a series win.  Oh, and they have this Durant guy too.  He's pretty good.  I think talent wins out, but just barely.


​--Los Angeles Clippers over the Golden State Warriors four games to one.  This might have been an interesting series if the Warriors didn't lose Andrew Bogut to a season ending injury a few weeks ago.  They did, and therefore, it won't be.  Steph Curry would have to shoot lights out for the whole series just to keep it close, but the Clips have too much talent, and now, have a coach who knows how to take a team deep into the playoffs in Doc Rivers.


--Portland Trail Blazers over the Houston rockets four games to three.  If there is going to be an upset in the first round, I think this is it.  The Blazers have a great mix of talent with Lamarcus Aldridge inside and Damian Lillard outside.  They can hit shots and shoot the three with guys like Nicolas Batum.  They can struggle on defense

though, and will definitely have their hands full with Dwight Howard.  There is something about the Rockets I don't like though.  Howard still can't make free throws, and James Harden plays out of control too much and takes too many bad shots.  When your top two players have those question marks, it doesn't bode well.