Assuming my first round winners are correct, here are my predictions for the next few rounds of the tournament. Let’s hope for another Heat vs. Thunder final.
Eastern Conference Semifinals
Heat vs. Nets:The Heat blew out the Nets in every matchup this season. While the Heat has not faced the new and improved Deron Williams, the Nets are not defensively strong enough to stop Miami. The Nets’s only chance to win the series depends on just how extremely physical they play, and if they can control the boards offensively and score continuously in the paint against the shorter Heat. With the addition of the “Birdman,” the Heat have gone 39-4, so good luck to the Nets. Anyone want to bet against LeBron, Dwyane and Chris? I predict the Heat will win in five games.
Knicks vs. Pacers:With the Knicks’ three-point attempts and the offensive powerhouse that is Carmelo Anthony, the team is a strong contender this season. J.R. Smith, having just been voted the league’s Sixth Man of the Year, will need to be a huge contributor off the bench for the Knicks to go far in the playoffs. He will need to play well to give the older veterans such as Jason Kidd rest. While the Pacers’ defense will tire them, I think the Knicks will win 4-3.
Western Conference Semifinals
Clippers vs. Thunder:Chris Paul won’t let the Clippers go down without a fight, but go down they will. The Clippers will be too reliant on their superstar while the Thunder have numerous weapons in Durant and Westbrook. The Thunder will win the series.
Spurs vs. Nuggets: While the Nuggets have a well-rounded team and phenomenal coach, they will be no match for the Spurs. Some of the Nuggets’ leading players suffer from injuries and the Spurs will be able to use this to their advantage. No one knows how many more title runs are left in Ginobli, Duncan and Parker, so the Spurs will make the most of this post-season run. The Spurs should win the series 4-1.
Eastern Conference Finals
Heat vs. Knicks: The Knicks have won three out of four matchups this season, but the Heat want consecutive titles badly in order to earn a place in NBA history as one of the best teams of all time. They want the respect and the results to warrant the “heat” they took when the big three joined forces and predicted multiple championships. Prophecy fulfilled … at least this year. Heat will win in six.
Western Conference Finals
Thunder vs. Spurs: The top two western teams will vie for the Western Conference championship and the right to represent in the NBA finals. This should make for a great series. While the Spurs have had a phenomenal season, the Thunder have proven they are still great without James Harden.
The offense of Durant and Westbrook, along with the defense of Ibaka, should help secure a win for the Thunder.
Heat vs. Thunder: A repeat of the 2012 finals would give the Thunder their shot at redemption. However, the offensive lineup of Bosh, James, Wade, Allen and Chalmers will be explosive if they reach the NBA finals. A newfound strength: the Heat bench players all received substantial playing time at the end of the season, while the superstars rested and recovered from minor aches and pains. Considering these players contributed nicely to many wins, the Heat should be even stronger than last year. While the Thunder have lost Harden, the Heat gained Chris Andersen, who has become an instrumental player. The Heat should win the finals in six games, securing consecutive titles and a place in NBA history having made the NBA Finals three consecutive years during the LeBron
era … and winning two straight titles.