M.M.: We have the advantage of seeing the first two games but we all have that advantage so here we go. I think it will be the Heat, Pacers, Wizards and Raptors. I previously would have picked the Bulls but after dropping the first two games at home I don't see them recovering. I also have gone back and forth between the Raptors and Nets. I think this series will last until a game 6 or 7 and I am picking the younger team to win. Experience can carry you a long way but if the legs give out in basketball, youth can win.
T.O.: I have a lot in common with you Mr. Marris, but we are going to differ on one key issue. The Nets and the Raptors. I think the Heat, Pacers, and Wizards will all safely escape round 1. As the Twitterverse have commented about the Bulls, they can't throw the ball in the ocean right now, so I think the Wizards will take that series easily. The Heat will handle the Bobcats, but I don't see a sweep in that series. Assuming the Pacers keep playing at the level they did Tuesday, I don't see this one going much longer than it needs to. The problem with the Raptors and Nets is that I see the Nets experience and second half surge winning out over the plucky Raptors. My heart wants to see the Raptors win, but I think the Nets find a way, particularly as this series goes on, because their is a lot of big game experience on that club.
B: I'm going with T.O. and picking the Pacers (please, please, please don't let us down), Heat, Wizards, Nets. I really want to see Toronto win that series but if Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire have taught me anything (SPOILER ALERT IF YOU'VE NEVER READ/WATCHED THE SERIES): you only get let down when you root for the North . Oh and if the Bobcats want to shock the world, I'd be OK with that.
M.M.: I have the Spurs, Thunder, Clippers and Rockets. I am struggling with two match ups in the West. To be honest I only feel comfortable with the Spurs beating the Mavericks. I could easily see the Clippers falling to the Warriors although I see Griffin taking control before he let's that happen. I could also see Portland beating the Rockets but Houston just has too many good players who start to play as a team for me to pick against them.
T.O.: The only pick here I am confident in is the Spurs. They are the class of the west, the rest could be really exciting. The Thunder should beat the Grizzlies, but the Grizz have proved to be a match up problem for them in the past. I think this series goes 7, but give the edge to the slight edge to the Thunder. Similarly to the Thunder Grizz series, I think the Clippers pull out a tough series win. The Warriors are a solid team, but with injuries sustained, I dont know if they are better overall than the clippers, but it should be a good series. The pick I am going to differ from Marris on is on the Rockets. I like Portland here.
B. Thunder hands down. Spurs too. But the Grizz and Mavs make them work for it. Clippers will live to fight another day because Steph Curry can't score all of the points. I'm going to take Portland as well. They're young, energetic, and pumped up. Also, they were one of the first few teams to beat the Pacers back when the Pacers looked unbeatable.
M.M.: This would have been easy for me back in December but it has become a little more difficult. I am still predicting a Pacers - Heat Eastern Conference Finals. The Heat have turned it on because of the playoffs. After Tuesday night's Pacer win I feel more confident that the Pacers are finding their groove once again and are finally making adjustments to play winning basketball. Keeping that in mind they still have to make it out of the first round and potentially battle a very good Wizards team in the second round.
T.O.: I agree with Marris, if the Pacers team from Tuesday night shows up, we are headed for a Heat Pacers Conference final. Watch out for the Nets though, they have given Miami fits all year (4-0 in head to head games) and could honestly knock the Heat off. If the Pacers slip up at all, or revert to the awful March form that we have seen, they won't compete with anyone good, not great.
B. It's a toss up. I like Heat and Pacers but I also agree, it depends on which teams show up. If the Pacers have in fact found their early season form again then game on. If they get crushed in Atlanta Thursday, then I'm not holding my breath. A Heat-Nets match up could be an amazing 7 round knock out, drag out, fight. But Miami (ugh!) prevails.
M.M.: One of these picks is very easy and one is not so easy. I have to go with my gut feeling and say that the Spurs will meet the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals. If the Rockets didn't have to face the Trailblazers in the first round and then the most experienced, best coached team in the second round I would send them to the Western Conference Finals but the Spurs are too well coached and too experienced not to earn a spot in the West. The Thunder are being carried by Durant and he isn't going to fall without a fight. The question will be who can make it out of the West?
T.O.: I don't know if anyone in the West can knock out the Spurs so I seriously doubt that the Spurs fall before the finals. So go ahead and lock them in for me. As much as I hate to say it, if the Clips make it out of round 1, I think they take round 2. If not, I think it goes to the thunder. If by chance both those teams lose... I'm going with the Grizz.
B. Spurs and Thunder. Both teams have been there before in the past two years. Clippers will fold like every other team from LA (well except the Kings a few years ago).
M.M.: I have to go with my pick at the beginning of the season. The Pacers and Spurs will face off in the NBA championship. Again - I would (and will) feel a lot more confident if the Pacers play like they did between October and December and how they played in the second half on Tuesday. If the Pacers can continue to pull it together, get past the Hawks then they will be almost unstoppable. The home court advantage will come into play and this team is motivated not to lose to the Heat in the playoffs again. The Spurs I have no concerns about making it to the NBA Finals. This match up will make the media unhappy - they would prefer a Clippers - Heat match up for obvious reasons but a Spurs - Pacers match up is going to display skilled, defensive basketball.
T.O.: This all depends on which Pacers teams shows up, but following the trend I have seen the past 3 months, its going to be the Heat. If they Pacers right the ship during rounds 1 and 2, and by right the ship I don't mean just win both series but play November-January ball, they will take this one from the Heat... and I don't think it will take all 7. If you haven't picked up on the trend in the west... this is the Spurs conference to lose.
B. I'm afraid to make a pick here. I'm a Cubs fan, I'm a Hoosier, I love playing Euchre...I'm really, really superstitious when it comes to sports (and cards). I'm going to pass on this one. Sorry folks. How about Charlotte. Spurs win the west.
M.M.: I have been a homer this entire post - sticking by my Pacers the entire way and I would like to do so in the Finals as well but the team that makes it out of the West this year will win the NBA championship. It will go to a game 6 or possibly a game 7 but in the end I predict San Antonio will bring home one more championship - maybe their last one as a dynasty. If the Pacers can finish pulling it all together and make it to the Championship they will put up a great effort but they won't have home court advantage and the Spurs experience will win out. I am hoping that I wrong - it will be one of the few times I am happy that I am wrong if the Pacers can bring home their first NBA championship but it will be a long and hard road - especially against such a talented, well coached, disciplined veteran team.
T.O.: I think its the Spurs. Both the Pacers and the Heat, when they are on top of their game can beat the Spurs. But Pop has his team working like a well oiled machine. Every night they play solid. They will eat any team from the East alive if they aren't sharp on both ends of the court.
B. San Antonio takes it all on the backs of very experienced players and coaches who were mostly all there in the Finals last year. They especially win it if they play Charlotte...still rooting for you though Cody Zeller.