This week, Danny gave his NBA Playoff predictions:
The NBA is probably the most predictable of the four major North American sports. We’ve seen that once again with the Golden State Warriors as the No. 1 seed in the West and the favorite to the NBA Championship, which would make it a three-peat for the Warriors.
In the East, the Boston Celtics were supposed to be the team to beat because of the return of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward from injuries last season. But the C’s had plenty of chemistry issues throughout the year and ended up as the No. 4 seed.
This will be the first time since 2010 that we won’t see LeBron James in the NBA Finals. Why? Because James’ Lakers did not make the playoffs. James advanced to the NBA Finals for eight straight years, beginning in 2011. He went to the Finals four straight years with the Miami Heat, and then four straight years with the Cleveland Cavaliers, winning three NBA Champions during that span.
Kind of a crazy story that seems somewhat forgotten. Until now, James held personal real estate in the NBA Finals. And nobody really wants to talk about that. Instead, people want to force Tiger Woods on me because “it’s a great story.” This is me going on a tangent, but as Woods was on his way to a fifth Masters win last weekend, some of his biggest fans continued to knock me for not wanting Woods to pull off the victory.
It’s part of the reason I don’t root for Woods. Because everybody and their mother tells me I have to. No, I don’t have to. And I won’t.
I admit that his comeback story is one of the great ones in the history of sports, but there’s more to Woods’ story than just an injury history. And if we’re rooting for everyone with great stories and telling others that they must do the same, then we should’ve all been rooting for James to make a run at a ninth-straight NBA Finals appearance this year. But you weren’t doing that. And I wasn’t knocking you if you didn’t.
But I digress.
With James not involved in the NBA playoff picture this year, the East is wide open. So much so that I could see any one of the top four seeds advance to the Finals.
Will this be the year that the Greek Freak secures his spot as the best player in the world by hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy in June? Is Kawhi Leonard the piece that the Raptors have been missing to get them over the hump and bring an NBA Championship to Toronto (even though they would rather have a Stanley Cup)? Can the Philadelphia 76ers complete the “process” that they’ve been talking about for what seems like years now? Or are the Celtics able to flip a switch and come together as the championship contender we all know they can be?
Here are my picks for the NBA Playoffs:
EASTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS:
(1) Milwaukee Bucks over (8) Detroit Pistons
(4) Boston Celtics over (5) Indiana Pacers
(3) Philadelphia 76ers over (6) Brooklyn Nets
(2) Toronto Raptors over (7) Orlando Magic
WESTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS:
(1) Golden State Warriors over (8) Los Angeles Clippers
(4) Houston Rockets over (5) Utah Jazz
(6) Oklahoma City Thunder over (3) Portland Trail Blazers
(2) Denver Nuggets over (7) San Antonio Spurs
EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS:
(4) Boston Celtics over (1) Milwaukee Bucks
(3) Philadelphia 76ers over (2) Toronto Raptors
WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS:
(1) Golden State Warriors over (4) Houston Rockets
(6) Oklahoma City Thunder over (2) Denver Nuggets
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS:
(3) Philadelphia 76ers over (4) Boston Celtics
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS:
(1) Golden State Warriors over (6) Oklahoma City Thunder
Golden State Warriors over Philadelphia 76ers
-For what it’s worth, I could also see the Celtics representing the Eastern Conference, instead of the 76ers. But either way, nobody is beating the Warriors. They will become the first team to win three straight NBA Championships since the Los Angeles Lakers’ three-peat from 2000-2002. It could also mean the end of Kevin Durant’s time in Golden State, as he’s been rumored to leave for the New York Knicks. And perhaps it will also be the last time you see Klay Thompson in a Warriors uniform as well. If both Durant and Thompson leave in free agency this summer, then this could be the last dominant run for Golden State. Chances are, Steph Curry also probably knows that, which means I expect him to turn it up a notch as the playoffs go on. If this is it for the Warriors, then it’s been a blast to watch. Curry gets named Finals MVP.
Listen to the show at PodcastOne. Also available on iTunes, Spotify, and dannypicard.com. Subscribe to Danny’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/dannypicard.