Anthony Beers, Staff Writer
Eastern Conference: The conversation in the East begins and ends with the Miami Heat. This season sports fans witnessed the Heat achieve the second best winning streak in NBA history at 27 games. The only team to have had a longer streak was the 1971-72 LA Lakers, consisting of hall of famers Jerry West, Pat Riley and Wilt Chamberlain. That kind of company makes LeBron James and the Miami Heat the obvious favorite.
The standings in the East truly represent the potentiality of each team. Upsets in this conference are frankly not very likely. Home court advantage will go a long way with these opening match ups, the one exception being the Brooklyn Nets and Chicago Bulls match up. The Bulls have shown defensive resilience this season and have had recent playoff success with Tom Thibodeau. The obvious factor for their lesser success this season is the mystery of Derrick Rose, who suffered a torn ACL almost exactly a year ago. Fans anticipated Rose’s return to have occurred by now, but that has not stopped the Bulls from having success when it matters the most. The Bulls were able to end the almighty Heat’s win streak at 27 and were also able to defeat the red hot Knicks ending their streak at 13.
Prediction: The Heat, Knicks, Pacers and Bulls will advance to the second round of the playoffs, with the ultimate battle in the Eastern Conference Finals being between the Heat and Knicks, the true number one and two seeded teams. New York will surpass Miami however, because with every king there is an assassin.
Western Conference: The West, as it has been all season, is crazy. Seeding and home court advantage will not be as significant in this conference. The only real guarantee is that the Oklahoma City Thunder are truly the best team in the West and will have no trouble advancing against the Houston Rockets. Aside from that, the West is fairly unpredictable. The Lakers match up against the aging, Manu Ginobli-less Spurs is overplayed and yet somewhat intriguing.
The Denver Nuggets should be able to overcome the undersized Golden State Warriors, but with Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari injured and the three point champion Steph Curry leading the Warriors, an upset is quite feasible. The LA Clippers success has come as a change to typical basketball in Los Angeles, but their level of dominance is not nearly as high as it was to begin the regular season, plus beating the Memphis Grizzlies in a best of seven series is a very difficult task. The West is just madness.
Prediction: The Thunder, Lakers, Nuggets and Grizzlies will survive the very entertaining first round. The Western Conference Finals will consist of the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Denver Nuggets, the Thunder coming off an easy series and the Nuggets coming off a difficult one. Oklahoma City will continue to win as they have all year en route to the finals.
Finals Prediction: The Knicks beat the Thunder in seven games. This season has seen a lot of tides turning, the LA Lakers and Boston Celtics aren’t as dominant as they used to be and the league is ready for a change. This year has been magical for Knicks fans and will continue as so all the way to the promise land.