– The last major NBA playoff upset– it’s a marginal upset– was a three, Denver losing the Golden State. And that was in 2013. 2014 also had Brooklyn beating Toronto as a 6-3, but they were both bad, so it didn’t matter.
Generally, unlike the NCAA tournament, which restarts tomorrow and Friday and Saturday, Sunday, when you have to beat somebody four times in two weeks, it’s not about– you know, you can have a really bad game. You can have two bad games. The officials can screw you in a game. It doesn’t really matter. It’s hard to beat a superior team four times in two weeks.
I mean, LeBron doesn’t even lose a first round playoff series in the East. I don’t think he’s lost a game in like five years.
So I thought this morning I’d just lay out, if this NBA season ended today and we started the playoffs, with all things considered, I’ll just give you a rundown on what I think would happen. We’d start with the Western Conference, which is far deeper and better than the Eastern Conference. I mean, Portland and Utah are real good teams.
I would have Utah’s beaten– Houston’s beaten Utah four times this year. They beat them. Rudy Gobert’s healthy. They can create some match-up problems. But Houston’s a far better team.
Oklahoma City would beat New Orleans. I think they have their issues. They don’t shoot threes particularly well. And Westbrook can get very tunnel vision. But OKC would beat New Orleans.
Listen, Portland right now is playing great basketball. I watched them for two hours last night. San Antonio is a mess. We don’t know what’s up with Kawhi Leonard. I would take Portland to make fairly quick work of San Antonio.
Jimmy Butler’s not back for the T Wolves yet. If he does come back, he’s got to get in game shape and the chemistry. Golden State’s still a better team, although they could be vulnerable to lose a road game here.
Then I’d have Golden State beating Portland. Again, I think Portland could beat Golden State in a game. They’re not going to do like last year and sweep through the West. There’s a fatigue factor. There’s an injury factor. And I frankly think Portland’s a pretty interesting team.
And then Houston, I think, would fly through Oklahoma City. I don’t get to a particularly great matchup in the postseason. It’ll be half court basketball. And I think between Harden and Chris Paul, that is a lethal half court combination of veteran points.
And then I think Golden State finishes off Houston. And again, I think that’s a fairly quick series. I don’t think Houston– I think Houston’s a poor man’s version of Golden State.
Let’s go to the Eastern Conference, where now, Boston doesn’t have Gordon Hayward, and Kyrie Irving’s hurt. But Kyrie would be back for the playoffs. And Kyrie is still– you know, he’s a world class point guard.
So if you go to the Eastern Conference playoffs, Toronto will dispose quickly of Milwaukee. That could be a sweep.
Indiana-Washington, Indiana’s won 7 of 10, and John Wall’s still not playing for the Wizards. So I would take, in a very interesting long series, the Pacers.
Cleveland beats Philadelphia. You know, the Sixers, I don’t think, again, get in playoff basketball– I get a veteran team, home court advantage Cleveland with LeBron James, Embed’s playing 30 minutes a night. LeBron’s playing 42. I’d take Cleveland in five.
Boston-Miami, I think, again, I think that’s a fairly interesting series if Kyrie Irving’s not at 100%. Boston’s way better defensively. So I’d give the Celtics the edge.
Then I think Cleveland, again, I just think Boston will depend on Jayson Tatum. And LeBron and Kevin Love and Jeff Green and veterans will dispose of Boston in five games, maybe six.
Toronto mops up on Indiana, which comes out of their series with Washington fatigued. And then it’s Toronto and Cleveland. And I would take Cleveland.
Now, I do think, again, I think Cleveland’s going to lose a game to Boston. I think Cleveland s to lose a game to Philadelphia. It’s not going to be like last year. And I think Cleveland’s going to have a real battle on their hands with Toronto. But I think it’s Cleveland Golden State again in the Finals, where I think Golden State sweeps them.