The time has come, the preseason is winding up and the Regular Season is about to kick off. That means it’s prediction time. Predicting the future is sports is nearly impossible because there are so many factors that you must take into account and many factors, like injuries, which are next to impossible to predict (unless of course we are talking about Derrick Rose). Here’s how I see the East and West Playoffs unfolding this year, including all of the Division Champs.
Central Division Champs: Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland will win the toughest Division in the East that will put 4 teams (almost 5, sorry Piston fans) in the Playoffs. Lebron and Co. with another year together will be looking for redemption and will win the Division comfortably.
Atlantic Division Champs: Toronto Raptors
The Celtics will continue to improve, but the East has a couple of teams that will leap frog them because of health in Miami and Indiana. The Celtics’ success last year was a little bit of fool’s gold and they are still a couple of years away. The Raps are still the best team in this division and the pick-up of DeMarre Carroll will make them tougher than last year.
Southeast Division Champs: Miami Heat
Miami stands to be one of the most improved teams in the league. If Wade and Bosh can stay healthy, and compliment the up-tempo Dragic the Heat will be a tough out in the Playoffs. They will also edge out the Hawks and the Wiz for a Welcome-Back Division Title.
Pacific Division Champs: Los Angeles Clippers
The Clips have a bad taste in their mouth from the way they choked away last season’s series against the Rockets. The Clippers biggest issue last season was depth, so they went out and added Pierce, Josh Smith, and Lance Stephenson to make the Clips deadlier than ever. This may just be the year for the other LA team to bring home a title.
Northwest Division Champs: OKC Thunder
A healthy KD and co-alpha dog Westbrook back at his side, the Thunder are equipped to get back to the top in the West. With Portland taking the biggest dive of any team in the league, the Jazz with be their toughest competition in the Division and the Jazz are a year or two away from seriously challenging them, the time is now for the Thunder.
Southwest Division Champs: San Antonio Spurs
This division is easier with Dallas falling off this year, but is still no cake walk. The Spurs have reloaded this offseason and everyone is waiting to see if Duncan can adjust to a new role and let Aldridge take the reins in the front-court. I see the Rockets pushing the Spurs hard, but ultimately the Spurs coaching and experience will rule the day.
East Playoffs 1st Round
- Cavs vs. 8. Bucks
- Heat vs. 7. Hawks
- Bulls vs. 6. Raptors
- Wizards vs. 5. Pacers
East Playoffs 2nd Round
- Cavs vs. 4. Wizards
- Heat vs. 3. Bulls
- Cavs vs. 2. Heat
The Heat and the Pacers will be back in the Playoffs and it won’t matter much. Nobody is going to knock off the Cavs, who are bound and determined to bring a championship to Cleveland. The East Finals will be a lot of fun as Lebron and his new mates match-up against Lebron’s old mates (what’s left of them) and Lebron will prove to the world that it really doesn’t matter what team he’s on, that team will make it to the Finals.
West Playoffs 1st Round
- Thunder vs. 8. Jazz
- Spurs vs. 7. Pelicans
- Clippers vs. 6. Grizzlies
- Warriors vs. 5. Rockets
West Playoffs 2nd Round
- Thunder vs. 4. Warriors
- Spurs vs. 3. Clippers
- Thunder vs. 3. Clippers
The West Playoffs will be a slugfest once again, with five teams with a legitimate chance to win it all. I have seen predictions all over the board as to what West team will come out on top. The Thunder, Clippers, Spurs, Warriors, and Rockets will all have a chance to meet the Cavs in the Finals. In the end, I see the Thunder staying healthy and breaking through this year and knocking off the Clippers in the West Finals. Really any of the Top 4 West teams could make it and I would not be surprised by any of them.
- Cavs vs. 1. Thunder
NBA Champions: Thunder
As a fan this is the title bout I want to see–Lebron and KD head-to-head with a Championship and the title of best player in the world on the line. KD will be coming off his 5th scoring title and Lebron coming off his 5th MVP, what more could basketball fans want? Ultimately, much like last year, it will depend on how much help Lebron gets and whether his body holds up. KD and Westbrook will be too much in a seven-game instant classic of a series.