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This regular season has been one of the most exciting and historic ever. Russell Westbrook averaged a triple double, broke the record for 50 point triple doubles, and broke Oscar Robertson’s record of triple doubles in a season. James Harden finished second in scoring only to Russ while averaging 12 assists and 8 rebounds a game. Isaiah Thomas, who is 5’9, averaged almost 30 a game. Giannis became the 4th player to finish top 20 in all major stats. KD joined the villians of the league in the Golden State Warriors. In honor of the playoffs starting staff writers Tre and Nige collaborate to bring you Senclaire’s NBA Playoff predictions round by round.


EASTERN CONFERENCE

1ST ROUND

1 Celtics vs. 8 Bulls

The Celtics win because they have too many weapons for the Bulls to deal with. Chicago’s role players won’t be able to handle Avery Bradley, Al Horford and Jae Crowder. Jimmy Butler said that he is guarding Isaiah Thomas throughout the series and I can see the Bulls winning two games if Jimmy shuts Isaiah down. This series could very well be end in 5 games but a few vintage performances from D-Wade could push Boston to 6 or 7. – Tre

Tre:  Celtics 4-2

Nige: Celtics 4-1

2 Cavs vs. 7 Pacers

Due to the lack of time the Pacers have had to mesh together as a team, the Pacers have a slimmer chance to upset the Cavs in the first round than most thought at the start of the season. The Cavs have 3 years of experience together, not to mention 2 finals appearances so their experience is their leverage. On paper, this Pacers team should have a good chance of winning the series. They have the depth to keep up with the Cavs bench, plus the skill and talent to play with them as well as anyone else in the league. Paul George is one of three players who can slow down LeBron (to an extent), while continually give him problems on the offensive end. -Nige

Tre: Cavs 4-0

Nige: Cavs 4-2

3 Toronto vs. 6 Milwaukee

The Raptors vs. Bucks series will come down to experience. Don’t get me wrong Milwaukee will be a legitimate PROBLEM in the future but for now, they are still a young team with no playoff expirience. With Kyle Lowry back in the lineup after missing most of the second half of the season, I can only see one team prevailing. Raptors in 6. – Tre

Tre: Raptors 4-2

Nige: Raptors 4-2

4 Wizards vs. 5 Hawks

Wizards vs Hawks: John Wall has had a tremendous season, becoming the first player to average 20/4/10/2/0.5. Bradley Beal has finally become the star his potential promised after his freshman run as a gator while Otter Porter Jr has become a reliable scorer and rebounder. During the season the Wizards traded for Brandon Jennings and Bogdanovic, both key bench players. The Hawks on the other hand have an extremely balanced team with a nice bench. Their firepower is in their front court as Dwight Howard and Paul Milsap, who will give Morris and Gortat problems the entire series. On the other hand Schroder and Hardaway won’t be able to contain John Wall and Bradley Beal. Both are teams who play team basketball, so it will come down to who shares the ball better. -Nige

Tre: Wizards 4-2

Nige: Wizards 4-3


2ND ROUND

1 Celtics vs. 4 Wizards

Take your pick, Isaiah Thomas or John Wall? Two of the best point guards in the East will be in a battle all series long. If the Wizards come into the second round hot, Boston will have difficulty answering to both Wall and Bradley Beal, who is coming off of his best season as a pro so far. This series could go either way but the X-Factor is John Wall. If he is playing at his best, Washington will be clicking on all cylinders and they will beat Boston in 7. – Tre

Tre: Wizards 4-3

Nige: Wizards 4-3

1 Cavs vs. 3 Raptors

Cavs vs Raptors: The Raptors have acquired the pieces necessary to put their
team in the best position possible to upset the defending champs. Will this make a difference in the end? Yeah, Ibaka should give Kevin Love some issues, but not enough to beat the Cavs. -Nige

Tre: Cavs 4-2

Nige: Cavs 4-2


EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

1 Cavs vs. 4 Wizards

The Cavs will be coming off of a difficult series with the Raptors but in the East, one man is the King. LeBron will come into the Eastern Conference Finals determined to win this series as quick as possible. Assuming the Cavs stay healthy up to this point, the Wizards and any other team in the East won’t beat them. Cavs in 4 or 5 because Washington has no answer for LeBron and the Cavs will be looking to get as much rest as possible before the finals. – Tre

Tre: Cavs 4-0

Nige: Cavs 4-1


WESTERN CONFERENCE

1ST ROUND

1 Warriors vs. 8 Blazers

Golden State is coming into the playoffs red hot. Having won 15 of 16 to end the season on top of getting KD back from a knee injury Golden State will likely cruise through the Blazers. Damien Lillard and CJ McCollum will try to will Portland to a major upset but at the end of the day, they don’t have the fire power to deal with Steph, Klay and KD. Golden State in 5. – Tre

Tre: Warriors 4-1

Nige: Warriors 4-0

2 Spurs vs. 7 Grizzlies 

Spurs vs Grizzlies: The Grizzlies are probably the most overlooked team in the league. Marc Gasol hardly gets the acknowledgement he deserves, and with JaMychal Green playing well it only makes their bench better. Zach Randolph should still be a starter based on stats and PER, but David Fizdale wants to bring Randolph off the bench to lead their second unit, which also features Vince Carter, Andrew Harrison, Brandan Wright and Troy Daniels. The only thing that throws me astray in regards to this team is the recent loss of key offensive threat Chandler Parsons.

Now onto the Spurs. Earlier in the season there was a scare regarding LaMarcus Aldridge’s health due to heart complications, but it seems he has resolved these issues and has returned to pursue his first ring. The recent rise of Dewayne Dedmon and Jonathan Simmons give the Spurs a chance to play with anybody in the league. Kahwi’s recent offensive ruthlessness and consistency give them another closer and dependable source of offense. Tony Parker’s productivity has slowly declined over the last 3 seasons and and Manu is just getting older. The addition of Pau Gasol makes their bench even more of problem for other teams, but the Grizzlies have Randolph to answer. -Nige

Tre: 4-1

Nige: 4-3

3 Rockets vs. 6 Thunder

Tre: Rockets 4-2

Nige: Rockets 4-3

The most intriguing matchup in the first round will be between the Rockets and Thunder. The two leading MVP candidates James Harden and Russell Westbrook will look to lead their team to the next round. It’s unfortunate that these teams have to play each other in the first round because everyone wanted to see Russ vs. the Warriors this postseason. I don’t think the Thunder will be able to keep up with Houston’s three point shooting and that will be the reason OKC will be ending their playoff run early this year. Houston in 6. – Tre

4 Jazz vs. 5 Clippers

Clippers vs Jazz: The Jazz have a good team and their seeding backs this up. Their only problem is they’re young and facing a team whose been together for around 5 years, not to mention the mismatch at the 1,4 and 5 position. Rudy Gobert is going to be an all star soon, but DeAndre has proven time and time again he’s one of the best centers in the league. The only mismatch in the Jazz’s favor is Gordon Hayward. Luc Mbah a Moute or Wesley Johnson can’t handle Haywards offensive versatility, meaning they can only hope to limit the rest of the team, similar to how the Cavs played Klay Thompson in last years finals. With this defensive strategy we could see a quick series. -Nige

Tre: Clippers 4-2

Nige: Clippers 4-1


2ND ROUND

1 Warriors vs 5 Clippers

In what should be a rivalry, Golden State vs. the Clippers could be an ugly series. LA couldn’t keep up with the scoring power of the Warriors when it was just Steph and Klay; with the addition of KD Golden State won’t have any issues ending the Clippers season. I could see LA winning one or two games because of the distain they have for each other but realistically Golden State in 5 or 6. -Tre

Tre: Warriors 4-1

Nige: Warriors 4-2

2 Spurs vs. 3 Rockets

Gregg Popovich vs Mike De’Antoni. This will definitely be a battle of coaching, but due to the Spurs having a slightly better team and Kahwi will be guarding Harden the majority of the time, I’m taking the Spurs’ defense over the Rocket’s explosive offense. -Nige

Tre: Spurs 4-2

Nige: Spurs 4-3


WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

1 Warriors vs. 2 Spurs

High powered offense against the best defense in the league. The way Steve Kerr coaches is basically the opposite of Popovich. Kerr plays small ball while the Spurs play through their front court. We all know that the Spurs play type is the kryptonite to small ball as we witnessed during last years Thunder/ Warriors series. The Warriors squeezed through to comeback from being down 3-1 due to the Thunder’s panic. But this year the Warriors have gotten smaller but in exchange upgraded their already lethal offense. I honestly think the Warriors will pull this out, but I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if the Spurs won. In both years Steph has went to the Finals they have yet to play the Spurs in the playoffs. It’s hard to see 6’7 Draymond Green slowing down Aldridge much. Pau Gasol is going to go berserk with the second unit. The Spurs bigs will restrict the inside offense of the Warriors. So I guess it comes down to if the Warriors can shoot well and if the Spurs can bother their shooters. -Nige


FINALS

Cavs vs Warriors

The Cavs have done one thing during the offseason to make sure they won’t go down 3-1 again in this series. They’ve added accurate shooters to their bench, which brings me a move the Cavs front office made that confused me. A few weeks ago the Cavs cut defensive specialist DeAndre Liggings. The Kentucky Alumni would’ve offered the only thing the Cavs need to make their team complete. Without shut down wing defenders to guard Klay, KD, and Steph their chances of beating the Warriors aren’t in their favor. Currently their defensive threats on the wing are lacking in quantity.

If you remember to last years finals, the Cavs were in trouble until the NBA finally decided to punish Draymond for his antics on the court. His suspension was a major loss to the Warriors defense and offense, leading to a Game 7 in which Draymond seemed to be the key player while Steph and Klay were non existent. With Draymond playing the whole series and Kevin Durant on the roster to provide offense when the others are having an off day, I don’t see the Cavs having the defense to stop the Warriors offense unless Tristan Thompson plays like his pay check and Kevin Love gets some of his Timberwolves swagger back. Warriors in 7. -Nige

At the beginning of the season after Kevin Durant signed with the Warriors, one thing was clear, we were heading for the inevitable grudge match between the Cavaliers and the Warriors. For the first time in NBA History, the same two teams will play each other in the Finals for the third time straight. The addition of Kevin Durant made the Warriors the clear favorites entering the season but after acquiring Kyle Korver, Deron and Derrick Williams during the regular season, the Cavs have built a team good enough to seriously rival Golden State. LeBron James has a 22-5 record against KD in his career but this years Warriors team is the best team KD has been a part of. This series will come down to if the Cavs role players can help out LeBron and Kyrie. No matter how well LeBron plays, he will need contribution from JR Smith, Kyle Korver, Iman Shumpert and the rest of the bench to even have a chance to stop the force that is the Golden State Warriors. Golden State has the better star players, but the Cavs have the deeper roster and that is why I think the Cavs will be the 2017 NBA Champions after 7 games. –Tre

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