After a long hiatus (school work calls), I felt it was necessary to get back on my blogging horse.
The playoffs are heating up as the Miami Heat and Memphis Grizzlies make their way to the Eastern and Western Conference Finals, respectively. Each series only lasted five games, but the losing teams were missing their key components.
After Russell Westbrook’s season-ending injury in the first round against the Houston Rockets, the Oklahoma City Thunder has struggled to find a leader of the team. Westbrook also was an essential part to the Thunder’s scoring game. They were able to get past the Rockets, but the Grizzlies were too fast and physical to let the Thunder get through. Zach Randolph has been a focal point in the Grizzlies’ success during their playoff run. Randolph averages 19 points and 9 rebounds per game. He’s been a dominant player and was able to shut Blake Griffin down in the first round of the playoffs and made big plays against the Thunder. The Grizzlies will go to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history and will face the winner of the Spurs/Warriors series.
The Heat were able to win in five games against the Chicago Bulls after two of the Bulls’ point guards (Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich) and forward Luol Deng were unable to play due to injuries and illness. Nate Robinson took over as the starting point guard. Robinson was able to come up big in the series, but it wasn’t enough. The Heat meshed well and were able to win decisively in three out of the five games of the series (they lost one). The Heat will go on to play the winner of the Pacers/ Knicks series.
My predictions for the remaining series: Spurs and Pacers.
The Golden State Warriors are a talented team and have been able to win two games against the seasoned veteran Spurs, but they are still very young. When Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson get hot, the Warriors are unstoppable. At the same time, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan are, for the most part, consistent and can make things happen on the offensive end. Kawhi Leonard also plays a major role on the Spurs’ team, averaging 14 points in the Western Conference Semifinals against the Warriors. Although I’m rooting for the Warriors (they’re the last team standing from my home state), I don’t think they’re experienced and prepared enough to win against the Spurs.
I pick the Pacers over the New York Knicks because the Pacers are on a hot streak. Paul George, George Hill, David West and Roy Hibbert are all big parts of the success of the Pacers’ team. They all contribute in a major way on both ends of the court. The Knicks have Carmelo Anthony and Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith, but they are not enough to keep the rising stars of Indiana down. The Pacers are up 3-1 and with the way that they’ve been playing, it’s not likely that the Knicks will be able to win three back-to-back games against them. There may be a chance that the Knicks win this game, as they are 31-10 at home, while the Pacers are 19-21 away. Even with that in mind, the Pacers did manage to win one game in Madison Square Garden. They play game five tonight, which should be a good one: the Pacers will be playing hard to end the series, while the Knicks will be playing hard to stay alive in the playoffs.