Saturday, April 28, 2012

Adam and Spencer's NBA Playoffs Predictionz 2012

It has certainly been an interesting post-lockout year for the NBA.

Kevin Durant snagged the scoring title for his third year running, edging Kobe Bryant out by just 1/10 of a point per game (28). The only two point guards to bust into the top ten in scoring were Russell Westbrook (23.6) and Deron Williams (21). Only 12 players including the aforementioned averaged over 20 points per game for the season, including LeBron James (27.1), Kevin Love (26), Carmelo Anthony (22.6), LaMarcus Aldridge (21.7), Dirk Nowitzki (21.6), Blake Griffin (20.7), Monta Ellis (20.4), and David Lee (20.1). Kris Humphries and his new teammate, Gerald Wallace, both averaged 13.8 points to round out the top 50 - both of whom are fresh into free agency with their boy D-Will. 

No rookies qualified for the scoring title, which requires players to play at least 56 games and score a minimum of 1,126 points, but Kyrie Irving, the obvious candidate for Rookie of the Year, did manage to average 18.5 points per game in the 51 games he appeared in this season.

Dwight Howard, despite missing several games on top of what was quite frankly a ridiculous trade rumor, out-rebounded his nearest competition by 51 boards (785) this season. Only seven players averaged over 10 rebounds per game besides Dwight: Kevin Love (13.3), Andrew Bynum (11.8), DeMarcus Cousins (11), Kris Humphries (11), Blake Griffin (10.9), Pau Gasol (10.4), and Marcin Gortat (10). (Players of note that did not average 10 or more rebounds are Tyson Chandler, Joakim Noah, Al Jefferson, and Roy Hibbert to name a few. All of those players averaged over nine RPG, except for Hibbert (8.8).) 

The only rookie to break into the top 50 for rebounding was Tristan Thompson (6.5). Similar to Kyrie Irving in the scoring category, Kenneth Faried made rebounding waves as a rookie (7.7), but did not qualify as he didn't appear in enough games (46).

Rajon Rondo averaged more assists than second-table-placer Steve Nash by a whole point (11.7). Though, Nash, the perennial PG of 2012, played nine more games (62) and tallied 44 more assists (664) than Rajon on the year. Incredible stuff from the man who most likely will not play for the Suns next year. Those two were the only players to average over 10 assists on the season, with the closest thereafter being Chris Paul (9.1). 

A number of rookies busted out onto the NBA helpers scene this year, five in fact. Ricky Rubio dished out 8.2 assists per game before suffering a season-ending injury in his 41st game. Kemba Walker, though the Bobcats set the record for lowest win percentage in the history of the NBA this season, dished out 4.4 assists per game. Isaiah Thomas averaged 4.1, Brandon Knight averaged 3.8 and Iman Shumpert was able to close out the top 50 with 2.8 assists per game, which came in wake of what some would say was a rather biblical season for the Knicks.

Chris Paul ran away with the stealing title (2.53 per game). Dwight Howard beat out Nikola Pekovic for the scoring percentage crown (.573 to .564). Jamal Crawford collected first place honors in free throw percentage (.927). Steve Novak edged out Steph Curry in three point percentage (.472 to .455). Serge Ibaka absolutely destroyed the game of shot blocking this season, beating JaVale McGee's relatively wimpy second-place total of 132 by 106 (3.65 per game). And James Harden averaged more points than any other player off the bench this year (16.3).

But alas, individual stats are no longer relevant. It's time for one team to rise above all the others to claim the NBA Finals for their city.

The reigning MVP, though he missed enough games to disqualify him for the aforementioned accolades, Derrick Rose, has his Bulls right where he wants them: first place in the East. Nothing shocking there. And out West, we saw the San Antonio Spurs pull together yet another surprisingly low-key 10-game win streak to close the season and snag the top seed. Both the Bulls and the Spurs won exactly 50 games. 

The two second seeded teams, OKC out West and the Miami Heat in the East, boast interesting stories to go along with their respective conference leaders. Needless to say, we're sure you've heard them. 

It will be interesting to see what the future holds for teams like the Knicks, who expect to see Jeremy Lin return to the action if they make it to the conference semifinals. And what about our returning champions, the Mavericks? Certainly Indiana and Memphis will enjoy their three and four seeds. George Karl and the Association find themselves one seed behind the rebuilt Clippers, while the Dwight-Howardless Magic find themselves seeded behind Boston and Atlanta, a familiar few names out East to say the least. Hats off to Philly and Utah for nabbing the eight seeds, and to the Lakers for pulling the moves necessary to lock up the ever-important three seed out West.

Now that we've assessed the regular season, it's time to predict the postseason. Spencer will take on the Western Conference First Round match ups, and Adam will start us off with the East. Stay tuned all postseason as they predict every series together in their second annual head-to-head battle of NBA postseason basketball wit!

#1 Chicago Bulls vs. #8 Philadelphia 76ers

Here's the deal. The Bulls earned the top seed in the East for the most part without Derrick Rose. After only playing in 39 games this season, he's now back to "full strength." 

I don't buy it. 

D-Rose hasn't played two consecutive NBA games since the beginning of March, heck, he didn't even practice yesterday, and now Chicago is expecting him to win 16 playoff games out of a possible 28?

And with guys like Louis Williams playing out of their minds, young gunz Evan Turner and Jrue Holiday coming into the playoffs hot, Thaddeus Young and Andre Iguodala well-rested and fresh - I don't see the Bulls even getting out of the first round. Sorry Kyle Korver (aka Ashton Kutcher) and Co., I love you all, I really do, but the Bobcats won't be MJ's only disappointment this year, he'll have a symbolic one from his past to boot - or, let's be honest, he'll probably be happy to see the Bulls lose. 

Including his opponents, Iguodala finally has the pieces around him to make a second round run for the first time in his career. He won't average 21 like in '08 against Orlando, because he won't have to. The 76ers have balance on offense that Andre's never been a part of going into the playoffs: eight guys averaging at least eight points or higher (to Chicago's seven guys - which was inflated by D-Rose's injuries).

Yep, the 76ers' chess move of losing to Detroit on purpose by sitting their top five scorers on Wednesday to get the better match up (anything but Miami) will prove Doug Collins a smart bro.

Philly beating the Bulls in 6

#2 Miami Heat vs. #7 New York Knicks

I'm pretty sure David Stern wrote the script to this series with Peter Jackson and Trey Parker sometime last summer in upstate Maine in a cabin on an island in a basement with no lights on. An Aragorn-esque Carmelo Anthony in his hometown against LeBron James and his orcs from Mordor in the South. 

This just in: While the Heat did not see a single player qualify for the top 50 in rebounding this season except for King James, the Knicks have two premier seven-footers in Tyson Chandler and Amar'e Stoudomayor (yeah I spelled it like our first U.S. Supreme Court Latino judge spells it, you wanna fight about it? (Randy Marsh, little league baseball episode Sea. 9, Ep. 1/Rocky Baloa voice)). Seriously, if you don't watch every second of this series, I feel sorry for your momma. She must have raised you in the rain on the streets of Portland, and that must have been really, really tough for both of you.

Everyone is saying this series will go deep, and I agree. Most think to say the Knicks will win you have to be crazy, and I agree. So, I'm sorry, Pete, but unless Baron Davis takes off his old man new balances, I don't see it happening. The Heat and everyone else in the entire country except for Glen Grunwald learned last year that any squad with Mike Bibby in the huddle is destined for elimination. J.R. Smith, God bless him, will never win a championship, and LeBron James will. To be honest, I'm just praying Amar'e's knees don't go all Kyle negro-plasty on us in Game 5.

Miami in 6, just like the jersey.

#3 Indiana Pacers vs. #6 Orlando Magic

Oh geez. Do I really have to write the name Dwight Howard? I guess just that once, because he's NOT PLAYING.  It should be a good series though! (Barf). You can't tell me that the Magic have any chance at beating the Pacers when the marque match up jpg on each teams' website is of J.J. Reddick and Danny Granger. 


Coach Vogel is coming off earning Coach of the Month. The Pacers are easily the most well-balanced team offensively in the League. Nine guys are averaging considerable numbers. They have youth. They have height. They have fight. 

Orlando has Glen Davis. 

Indiana in 5

#4 Boston Celtics vs. #5 Atlanta Hawks

I love this series. It brings me back to 2008 again, when Boston beat an Atlanta team that was in the playoffs for the first time in nine years. That was the last time Joe Johnson lived up to his $107 million "hype." Joe was taking over late in games that series, slashing to the hoop more elegantly than anyone I can remember in the last decade in his weight class, except Black Mamba, and maybe Paul Pierce, of course. He really did look like Jordan in that series, though. Lo and behold Boston went on to beat L.A. that year in the Finals with their Big 3 after winning in seven against the Hawks. 

Except for the fact that the 2009 McDonald's All-American Dunk Contest Winner Aaron Bradley has taken over for Ray Ray, and a guy named Ivan Johnson, the core of both teams looks pretty much the same since 2008. Jeff Teague vs. Rajon Rondo will be amazing to watch unfurl. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett going against Al Horford (health pending) and Josh Smith is making my mouth water. And can you believe Jerry Stackhouse is in the playoffs? Man! That's insane! What is he, like 50?

If you combined all the active players in this series' years of NBA experience who have at least 10 years under their belts, it comes out to 120. 2012 minus 120 brings us back to the 1800s.

Boston has been surprising this season, and Paul Pierce is the Truth. I'll take my chances with the Hawks though. Revenge is best served cold.

Atlanta in 7

#1 San Antonio Spurs vs. #8 Utah Jazz

Prior to the 2012 season, the San Antonio Spurs were considered too old to compete for a championship. One condensed schedule and 50 wins later, the Spurs are headed into the postseason as the top seed in the Western Conference. Led by Tony Parker, who averaged 18 points and 7 assists, the Spurs had three win streaks reach ten plus games this season, a feat no other organization was able to accomplish. Parker, Manu Ginobli and Tim Duncan are the original “Big Three” and it goes without saying that they would love one more crack at the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

The Utah Jazz was the last team in the NBA to clinch a playoff spot waiting till the second to last game to do so. Led by a rejuvenated Al Jefferson and point guard Devin Harris, the Jazz are fourth in the NBA in scoring and third in rebounds, two key statistics when going up against a San Antonio team that thrives on second chance opportunities. Youngster Gordon Heyward has been solid for the Jazz all year long while Josh Howard and Raja Bell bring the postseason experience necessary to win playoff games.

The Spurs won three out of four this season against the Jazz, with their lone defeat in Utah without Parker, Ginobli or Duncan in attendance. The Spurs were eliminated in the first round last year and it is highly unlikely that this year’s squad does the same. The Jazz are fun to watch, but this series may not be.

San Antonio in 5

#2 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. #7 Dallas Mavericks

The Oklahoma City Thunder has been one of, if not, the most exciting team to watch in the league this season. Durantula is fresh off his third scoring title in a row and is ready to make a statement in the postseason so he can get up into those rafters. The Thunder have one of the most prolific offenses in the league averaging just over 103 points per game and they are beyond solid on defense as well. Alongside Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka have been consistent all year long and with Kendrick Perkins and Derek Fisher’s NBA Finals experience, this team is ready as ever to make a statement.

The Dallas Mavericks. Let’s not beat around the bush here; last year I wrote off the Mavericks time and time again before they eventually silenced my criticism in the NBA Finals. Dirk put the team on his shoulders and carried them to the promised land in 2011 and will have to do the same in 2012 if they hope to advance past the first round. The loss of Tyson Chandler will hurt more than a lot of people expect, but the Mavs roster still boasts a ton of playoff experienced veterans with the Jasons (Kidd and Terry) and Shawn Marion.

The Thunder would love to come out and make a statement by knocking off last year’s champ, but it is a lot easier said than done. OKC took three of four from the inconsistent Mavs this season, but all of that is moot come playoff time. The Mavs will not go down without a fight, but the Thunder will prove to be too explosive and talented for the Mavs defense to shut down.

Thunder in 6

#3 Los Angeles Lakers vs. #6 Denver Nuggets

Despite losing sixth man Lamar Odom to reality television, the Lakers find themselves in the top three in the Western Conference once again this postseason. Kobe Bryant, to no surprise has led the Lakers all season long and will need help from his teammates if he wants to catch MJ. Throughout the season, Andrew Bynum has showed flashes of greatness to balance his immaturity. If Bynum remains composed and dominant the low post, something we all know he can do, the Lakers are a Championship contender as always - after all, he is shooting over 85% with the game on the line! That means one thing: he's getting open in the clutch.

This will be the first time in a while Kobe takes the court in the postseason without running mates Odom and Fisher, but if anyone can carry the load it’s the Black Mamba.

The Denver Nuggets are one of the more baffling teams in the Western Conference. After starting the season hot as Hades, the Nugg’s fell off in the second half of the season sliding all the way down to the sixth seed. With the likes of Ty Lawson, Aaron Afflalo, Danilo Gallinari, Rudy Fernandez and Al Harrington, it is easy to see why Denver exhibited greatness at certain points throughout the season. Throw in a Hall of Fame coach like George Karl, and you have yourself an organization that is no easy task in the first round.

The loss of Metta World Peace for the first six games will undoubtedly hurt the Lake show going up against one of the highest scoring teams in the league. But here is the stat that shows the Lakers will advance: In the four games against the Nuggets this year, Kobe did not lead the Lakers in scoring one time and they still took three of four. The NBA is all about match ups and the front court of Denver cannot hang with Bynum and Paul Gasol, straight up.

Lakers in 5

#4 Memphis Grizzlies vs. #5 Los Angeles Clippers

Wow. That is all I have to say about this first round match up as the Cinderella story from last year’s playoffs, Memphis Grizzlies take on the new darlings of the NBA, the Lob City Clippers.

Memphis shocked everyone last year by taking the Thunder to seven games in the second round after knocking off the top seeded Spurs. Despite losing defender Shane Battier, the Grizzlies seem better than last season heading into the postseason. Led by Rudy Gay, the Grizz are ready to show that last year’s run was not a fluke and they are a legitimate contender. Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, O.J. Mayo, Zach Randolph and defensive mastermind Tony Allen are a perfect match up to go against the high flying circus act that is the Clippers.

The Clippers are back in the postseason for the first time since 2006 thanks to the arrival of CP3 prior to the season. The Clips also have this dude Blake Griffin, don’t know if you’ve heard of him, who has the ability to leap over the competition and place the ball in the rim at will, despite his lackluster, still-in-progress turnaround right hook/jumper. DeAndre Jordan is another low post threat the Clippers tout and with a healthy veteran “Big Shot” Billups running the point, this team is a legitimate contender.

This will be the best first round series out West by far with no clear cut favorite. The Clips took the first two match ups this season, but the Grizz swiped the last and only meeting in Memphis earlier this month. This will be a knock down drag out series and fans can go ahead and cop those game seven tickets.

Memphis in 7


  1. Bulls will still pull off the first series in 6 without Rose. Orlando is surprisingly fluid with Redick (also REDICK V. HANSBROUGH is fun to watch). Heat in 5 unless Lin comes back and revives Linsanity in 7. Celtics will dominate in 4, no questions asked. OKC Dallas is already an awesome postseason rivalry but I think OKC will destroy in 6 and have an easier time in the next round. Spurs in 4. Lakers, not easy but they can win in 6. Clippers in 6 with high-flying playoffs power from the ambitious young stars.

    Finals: OKC Boston.

  2. @Amorgan Though I admire your twice-over efforts to comment on Spencer's and my article, I would like to take this opportunity to formally throw your dissenting Boston prediction back in your face!