This was an exercise Dime’s writers performed spur-of-the-moment (foreshadowing), so there’s not much analysis. It’s meant to be a fun look at who the writer’s think — or hope — will advance in the NBA Playoffs over the next two months. You will most likely disagree with all or some of them. This is understandable, but please remember basketball is a game, and your life does not depend on a stranger predicting your team’s success in the postseason.
Before you label anyone a homer, just know the writer’s who gave their picks are based all over the country. They put aside any bias that might still exist after writing about basketball every day of their lives to make their choices. Rest assured, no one picked their native city to win the title.
With that said, some of you are going to be downright displeased or frothing-at-the-mouth furious as you’re reading these picks. It’s gonna be great.
THE FIRST ROUND
(1) Hawks vs. (8) Nets
Spencer Lund: Atlanta in 4. Anyone who thinks the superstar-less Hawks will lose even one game to Brooklyn, hasn’t been watching Brooklyn.
Jack Winter: Atlanta in 4. Can we revert back to a five-game first round series for this one?
Jamie Cooper: Atlanta in 5. Nets have so many issues, it’s hard to know where to begin. They didn’t really even want to make the playoffs.
Jordan White: Atlanta in 5. The only reason it’s not in four is because Budenholzer rests all of his starters in game 3.
(2) Cavaliers vs. (7) Celtics
Lund: Cleveland in 6. First-time jitters for Kyrie and the continued oddity of Love in Cleveland will see Cleveland drop one of their first two at home and split in Boston before winning on the road in Game 6 (aka LeBron’s Vengeance)
Winter: Cleveland in 5. Be careful what you wish for, Wyc.
Cooper: Cleveland in 4. Aside from Isaiah Thomas, the Celtics simply don’t have the personnel to match up with the Cavs.
White: Cleveland in 5. It’s a thrilling battle between two coach of the year candidates, but in the end, LeBron James overcomes Brad Stevens.
(3) Bulls vs. (6) Bucks
Lund: Chicago in 7. Kidd won’t let his fellas go down without a fight, and they’ll do just that. (see also)
Winter: Chicago in 5. A relatively big series from Derrick Rose gets Chicago fans way, way too excited.
Cooper: Chicago in 5. I’m going out on a limb here to say the Bucks can steal a game against the Bulls. Their stingy defense could be a nightmare for Chicago.
White: Chicago in 6. Giannis will have plenty of Vines, but the Bulls – with a nearly healthy roster – will take the series.
(4) Raptors vs. (5) Wizards
Lund: Toronto in 7. Washington struggled all year against Drake and Co. Pierce lit a fuse with his comments, too. Extra motivation isn’t necessary, but it can make a slight difference when they’re this evenly matched.
Winter: Toronto in 7. The Raptors’ depth and home court advantage is the downfall for the Wizards – at least as much as Randy Wittman’s approach to offense.
Cooper: Washington in 6. Should be one of the more interesting first round series, given how both teams have floundered the past couple of months. John Wall will end up being too much on both ends of the floor for the Raptors.
White: Washington in 7. The Wizards will continue to succeed despite being coached by Randy Wittman.
(1) Warriors vs. (8) Pelicans
Lund: Golden State in 5. Anthony Davis is worth at least one win in New Orleans.
Winter: Golden State in 4. Does New Orleans have five Anthony Davises? If not, this one will be over next week.
Cooper: Golden State in 5. God bless the Pelicans for sneaking into the playoffs and depriving us of Russell Westbrook in the post-season. Golden State’s top-rated offense and defense will be too much, although New Orleans could steal a game thanks to Anthony Davis.
White: Golden State in 5. The Brow takes one game, but Steph Curry and company are too much in the end.
(2) Rockets vs. (7) Mavericks
Lund: Houston in 7. This despite the possibility Carlisle might pull off the upset. Beard is still pissed about last year and they’ll be on their home floor in the last game.
Winter: Houston in 6. If only Dallas hadn’t traded for Rajon Rondo…
Cooper: Dallas in 6. This should be interesting one as well, but it’ll be much harder for James Harden to drag his team to victory in the playoffs. This will be a real test for Dallas to see if they can overcome chemistry and start clicking at the right time.
White: Dallas in 7. Dirk’s brilliance, and Houston’s poor health, is just enough to overcome Harden’s magnificence.
(3) Clippers vs. (6) Spurs
Winter: San Antonio in 6. Tough break for Los Angeles – they deserve better than one-and-done in the playoffs.
Cooper: San Antonio in 6. The Spurs are just getting warmed up, and the Clippers lack the depth to seriously challenge them, although Chris Paul and Blake Griffin should will them to a couple of wins to make it respectable.
White: San Antonio in 6. Death, taxes, and the Spurs winning in the playoffs.
(4) Blazers vs. (5) Grizzlies
Lund: Memphis in 6. Wesley Matthews is still underrated.
Winter: Memphis in 5. This would be a series if Portland were healthy. As is, they just don’t have enough firepower to combat Memphis’ defense.
Cooper: Memphis in 5. The Grizzlies won all four regular season matchups, and with a depleted roster, the Blazers don’t stand much of a chance, although Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge might will them to at least one win.
White: Memphis in 6. They might as well play this game in wheelchairs or on crutches.
THE CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
(1) Hawks vs. (4) Raptors/(5) Wizards
Lund: Atlanta over Toronto in 6. The Hawks are very good; people just forgot during the LeBron frenzy over the season’s second half.
Winter: Atlanta over Toronto in 5. The latest reminder yet that regular season results have no bearing on playoff performance.
Cooper: Atlanta over Washington in 6. I might be giving too much credit to the Wiz here, but something tells me this series will at least be interesting.
White: Atlanta over Washington in 6. The Hawks prove to Randy Wittman that three pointers are indeed valuable.
(2) Cavaliers vs. (3) Bulls
Lund: Cleveland in 4. Chicago will be banged up after Milwaukee punched them hard in the first round. Derrick Rose will not get injured though.
Winter: Cleveland in 5. And the excitement over Derrick Rose’s first round performance comes crashing back down…
Cooper: Cleveland in 6. Just too many question marks for the Bulls in terms of health. LeBron has always been the bane of their existence in the postseason, and that will apply here again.
White: Chicago in 7. Tom Thibodeau’s defense does just enough to corral LeBron, forcing other Cavaliers to beat the Bulls. They don’t.
(1) Warriors vs. (5) Grizzlies
Lund: Golden State in 6. Memphis plays Golden State tough, and the Dubs will be a tad overconfident after the first round. Still, Curry and Thompson > Conley and Allen.
Winter: Golden State in 5. The ‘Dubs can do everything that the Grizz can do – and a whole lot more.
Cooper: Golden State in 7. You can never count the Grizzlies out. They’re just stubborn enough to push this series to the brink, but they’ll ultimately lose the deciding game on the road.
White: Golden State in 7. Steph and Klay take advantage of the Grizzlies’ poor perimeter health.
(2) Rockets/(7) Mavericks vs. (6) Spurs/(3) Clippers
Lund: Los Angeles over Houston in 6. They’ll win at Staples and CP3 will go to the first Conference Finals of his career.
Winter: San Antonio over Houston in 6. Houston scares the defending champs, but nothing more.
Cooper: San Antonio over Dallas in 4. It was a completely different Mavericks team that pushed the Spurs to seven games last year. This will simply be four more tune-up games for a conference finals showdown with Golden State.
White: San Antonio over Dallas in 6. Tim Duncan overcomes Dirk Nowitzki for what may be the last time we see these two legends battle in the playoffs.
THE CONFERENCE FINALS
(1) Hawks vs. (2) Cavaliers/(3) Bulls
Lund: Atlanta over Cleveland in 7. Atlanta’s passing proves to be too much for the iso-heavy Cavs — making purists proud.
Winter: Alanta over Cleveland in 6. Hawks’ ball movement and defensive versatility proves too much for stagnant, inconsistent Cavaliers.
Cooper: Cleveland over Atlanta in 6. The Hawks are simply too inexperienced to take this series against LeBron.
White: Atlanta over Chicago in 7. The Hawks’ offense does just enough to overcome the Bulls’ defense.
(1) Warriors vs. (6) Spurs/(3) Clippers
Lund: Golden State over Los Angeles in 7. CP3 gets so close, but DeAndre Jordan misses key free throws down the stretch in front of the loudest Oakland crowd since 2007. DJ is a really good guy, too, which sucks.
Winter: San Antonio in 7. Do we have to choose? It’s tough to imagine the Warriors losing an elimination game at Roaracle, and just as hard to fathom that this one won’t go seven and the Spurs won’t come out on top. San Antonio in an instant classic.
Cooper: San Antonio in 7. Like Atlanta, the upstart Warriors don’t have the experience to win a gritty series against the Spurs. Never bet against San Antonio.
White: San Antonio in 7. DO. NOT. BET. AGAINST. THE. SPURS.
THE NBA FINALS
(1) Hawks/(2) Cavaliers vs. (6) Spurs/(1) Warriors
*Ed. Note: Atlanta would have home court advantage over San Antonio, and San Antonio would have home court advantage over Cleveland. Golden State would have home court advantage over Atlanta.
Lund: Golden State over Atlanta in 5. Stephen Curry is a much more enjoyable Finals MVP than Rick Barry.
Winter: San Antonio over Atlanta in 5. The old boss becomes the new boss yet again.
Cooper: San Antonio over Cleveland in 6. Aside from James, the rest of the Cavs’ roster is too inexperienced to seriously challenge the Spurs. Kawhi Leonard, once again, will make life miserable for LeBron.
White: San Antonio over Cleveland in 6. The student is still the student, the master is still the master.