The NBA conference semifinals start Monday. Time for predictions. Let’s see how I did in the first round:
Thunder-Grizzlies: I picked OKC in seven games. Aced that one.
Spurs-Mavericks: I picked San Antonio in four. Dallas proved to be much tougher, taking the Spurs to seven.
Rockets-Blazers: I picked Houston in seven. Portland won it in six. But I got close. Damian Lillard’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer probably kept me from another ace.
Clippers-Warriors: I picked LA in five. Golden State played much tougher, taking it seven.
Heat-Bobcats: I picked Miami in five. Turns out it was four. Charlotte might have won a game had Al Jefferson not been injured.
Nets-Raptors: I picked Brooklyn in six. Turns out the Netropolitans needed seven to win, producing a rare Game 7 road victory.
Bulls-Wizards: I picked Chicago in five, but instead, Washington won in five. The Bulls had nothing left in the tank.
Pacers-Hawks: I picked Indiana in six; it took the Pacers all seven games.
OK. Now on to the conference semifinals.
Thunder-Clippers: OKC in seven. Should be a rousing series, but the Thunder has better answers for the Clipper strengths than the Clippers have for OKC strengths. In other words, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, Steven Adams and Nick Collison can contain Lob City better than LA can contain Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Spurs-Blazers: San Antonio in five. Portland has a solid team and a better starting lineup. But the Blazers aren’t deep. The Spurs don’t need anyone in particular to play well. The Blazers have to have Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge to play well.
Nets-Heat: Miami in five. The Heat’s kryptonite is young legs and quality big men. Brooklyn has neither.
Pacers-Wizards: Washington in six. Indiana would have been out of the first round had it not been playing a 37-win team.