2016 NBA Playoff Predictions

The page will contain a couple videos that predict who will make the 2015 NBA finals. My predictions on every outcome for the NBA 2016 playoffs will be included as well.

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My Predictions

Welcome! I know it is a long way from April, but I am about to tell you how the 2016 NBA playoff race will look like:

Eastern Conference

First Round: 1.Cleveland Cavaliers v. 8.Toronto Raptors

The Cleveland Cavaliers take care of the Toronto Raptors in four games. Yes, Toronto has Kyle Lowry who is playing like he will make the All-Star game again. They also have the scoring machine DeMar DeRozan, along with an intimidating frontcourt. However, the Cavs’ big three and upgraded bench will ultimately win out.

First Round: 4.Milwaukee Bucks v. 5.Brooklyn Nets

Both of these teams lost heartbreaking first round series against quality teams. Now, it is time to see them against each other in what I think will be an unexpected, yet epic first round matchup. Both teams have are very deep in their frontcourt, so this series will depend on the guards and the small forwards. Although Milwaukee has multiple great players who can shoot and direct traffic at the point guard position, Brooklyn has experience on their side. Jarrett Jack and Joe Johnson have been playing in the NBA for at least ten seasons, so when it’s time to hit the clutch shots down the stretch, Brooklyn knows where to go with the ball. The Brooklyn Nets win this tight series 4-3.

First Round: 3.Miami Heat v. 6.Detroit Pistons

Although most people would think the Heat would easily finish the Pistons in four or five games, I think otherwise. Detroit will be able to match Miami in rebounds defense in the paint with the help of Andre Drummond. Marcus Morris and Ersan Ilyasova are very versatile forwards as well, being able to drive the ball and shoot the three. Finally, the Detroit Pistons’ guards love to play fast, so the chance for transition points will always be available to them. However, they lack the presence of a star that can take over a game, unlike the Heat. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh play like All-Stars on the court. The “X-factor” here will be Erik Spoelstra’s ability to cleverly incorporate players in the rotation. He relies heavily on Goran Dragic to control the backcourt and Hassan Whiteside for the paint, which will give them a sense of comfort and responsibility on the court. Both Tyler Johnson and Justise Winslow average more than 21 minutes a game, so as they gain experience on the court, they will eventually be able to help out in the offense, especially in the scoring department, since the Heat tend to struggle with that. Overall, Miami’s chemistry will fully develop by the playoffs and help them win the series 4-2.

First Round: 2.Chicago Bulls v. 7.Washington Wizards

This first round series will be the most competitive in the Eastern Conference. Both teams are extremely talented and deep. They even have All-Star point guards and shooting guards. There is no question that these teams’ backcourts will perform well, but how will the frontcourts play against each other? For the Wizards, they have size to match up with the Bulls, yet they like to play small with Jared Dudley as a power forward. This could end up hurting them in terms of defending shots in the paint, since they rank twenty-fifth in the NBA in overall defense, while the Bulls rank ninth. In the end, Chicago will win the series 4-2 because of their versatility with their big guys, such as Nikola Mirotic with his ability to shoot the three, Taj Gibson with his ability to guard a myriad of players, and Joakim Noah with his ability to make beautiful passes from almost anywhere on the floor.

Eastern Conference Semifinals: 1.Cleveland Cavaliers v. 5.Brooklyn Nets

Cleveland will be too good for the Nets to handle. Assuming injuries won’t creep up on the Cavs again, their big three and intimidating bench players will dominate the series. Brooklyn will get one game, though, off a game-winning buzzer beater by Joe Johnson (who else?). Other than that short span of hope for the Nets, Cleveland will win the series 4-1.

Eastern Conference Semifinals: 2.Chicago Bulls v. 3.Miami Heat

At this point, Miami will be excited to make it this far into the playoffs after missing the cut last season. They will be looking for revenge on LeBron James for leaving them two seasons ago as well. Finally, this series will definitely bring in the most amount of revenue in the 2016 playoffs (besides the NBA Finals, of course). Everyone will be looking forward to this epic matchup; the analysts, the media, the fans, and the Miami Heat want this matchup to happen, but it won’t.

Of all the teams to overcome adversity, who would be more prepared to do so than the Chicago Bulls? After playing without Derrick Rose for more than 200 games since his rookie year, they have still been able to make the playoffs, dating back to 2009. I know it seems unlikely when looking at the Heat’s personnel. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, two all-stars, are intimidating enough, yet Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside are close to stardom themselves. Not only that, but they have plenty of experience on the court that their younger players, such as Tyler Johnson and Justise Winslow, can look up to. How can the Chicago Bulls compete against that? I’ll tell you right now.

Chicago is one of the most talented teams in the entire league. Altogether, the team has two NBa Rookie of the Year awards, five NBA All-Rookie selections, six NBA All-Defensive selections, eleven All-Star Game appearances, six All-NBA selections, one NBA Defensive Player of the Year award, one NBA Most Improved Player award, and one NBA MVP award. They have seven players with six or more years of experience in the NBA as well. Finally, the difference-maker for this series will be the offensive efficiency for both teams, since they will be highly-ranked defensively throughout the course of the NBA season. Miami will have a difficult time building their chemistry at first, mainly because of the myriad of player styles and experience that they included into the team. Even though the players on the Bulls’ regular rotation have spent one season together, they have a new coach with zero experience in the NBA. This prediction is one of the toughest ones I have encountered, and I will pick the Chicago Bulls to move on to their first Eastern Conference Final since the 2010-2011 season.

Eastern Conference Finals: 1.Cleveland Cavaliers v. 2.Chicago Bulls

I know, the top two seeds in the East facing in the East finals is a pretty boring outcome, and I bet most of the audience is expecting me to choose the Cavs to move on. Well, think again. After years of criticism about Chicago only winning championships because of Michael Jordan, the Bulls will get a chance to silence the nonsense as they upset LeBron and his Cavs in a 4-2 series victory. So many people are assuming LeBron James will attend the Finals again, mainly because he is LeBron. Most people can not imagine an NBA Finals without him playing for the NBA championship. I can. Here’s how:

When I compare the depth of both of these teams, I can only see subtle differences. Almost every position for both teams have experience at the starter and backup positions. However, Chicago has some pieces that are more talented than others. The same goes for Cleveland. It is fair to say that the Bulls have far superior talent in the shooting sector than the Cavs. Every point guard for the Cavaliers are not afraid to take over the game, though, and they will do whatever it takes to win. The Bulls only have one point guard that fits this description: former NBA MVP Derrick Rose.

From a statistics perspective, the Bulls were one of the best in the league in rebounding, so this tells me that they will win the rebounding battle against the Cavaliers. When any team has the combination of Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah at the center position, along with veteran Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic, and a the overall athleticism of the Chicago Bulls, it makes sense to say this. They were also very good in sharing the ball, which was something they did not know how to do before coach Fred Hoiberg came in. Finally, those boys could defend. Holding teams to less than one hundred points per game (PPG) is an incredible feat for any NBA team, especially since the culture of high offensive pace is now starting to spread around the league.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, though, are not far behind when it comes to these three factors. They were also very good at rebounding, and they were even better in assists. What might be a dealbreaker for some would be the Cavs’ average PPG and their opponents’ PPG. They held their opponents to less than one hundred PPG, like the Bulls, but differed from Chicago by scoring more than one hundred PPG. However convincing this might be, I still think the Bulls will win because of the versatility that is present in their size. Nikola Mirotic can score from anywhere on the floor. Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah perform are key players defensively that will shut down Cleveland’s bench players. Chicago also has a variety of size and strength in their guards and small forwards. This will allow them to throw different looks at LeBron James, which would, ultimately, keep him guessing the entire game. Finally, what impresses me the most about the Chicago Bulls is their leadership both on and off the court. Joakim Noah does not start anymore, but his leadership skills have not softened since the beginning of his career. Kirk Hinrich and Aaron Brooks are both backups, yet they are always willing to share their experience with the rest of the team. Of course, Derrick Rose has a presence on the court with him being a former MVP and all. The true difference maker will be how each team establishes their leadership and dominance on the court, and the Chicago Bulls will win in this decisive category. The Bulls will disappoint the NBA fanbase yet again with another unexpected series win.

Western Conference

First Round: 1.San Antonio Spurs v. 8.Sacramento Kings

The Spurs have been rolling so far, while the Kings have been struggling. By the end of the season, though, these teams will both make the playoffs with something to prove. San Antonio wants another championship before Tim Duncan declares his retirement, but the Kings want to show that they can compete with the best teams in the Western Conference with the additions of their 2015 offseason pickups. The Spurs depth will, ultimately, outlast Sacramento’s talented starters in a 6 game series.

First Round: 4.Houston Rockets v. 5.Los Angeles Clippers

These teams have made the NBA playoffs since the 2012-2013 season, and they faced each other in the Western Conference Semifinals last season. That series ended 4-3 in Houston’s favor, but this time the Clippers will move on. They tremendously improved their lineup during the offseason, adding clutch shooter Paul Pierce and pivotal backup Josh Smith. The picked up Pablo Prigioni as well, who has plenty of experience to bring as a backup point guard. Also, Wesley Johnson can be a prolific scorer at times, as shown during his years with the Los Angeles Lakers. However, the Rockets added Ty Lawson, the talented point guard from the Denver Nuggets, which was huge for their team. This gives Houston the ability to utilize the point guard position for scoring, rather than just defense from Patrick Beverley. Although their second round draft pick, Montrezl Harrell, could be a “DeAndre Jordan” type of player, the Clippers will win this series 4-3.

First Round: 3.Memphis Grizzlies v. 6.Oklahoma City Thunder

The most interesting series, in my opinion, will involve Memphis and Oklahoma City battling for a spot in the Western Conference Semifinals. Their playing styles will be vastly different not only because of pace but also because of scoring philosophy. The Grizzlies will love to take things slow and work the ball around for a good shot, while the Thunder will play fast, often looking for transition points, and will tend to let their star players, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, take on their man one-on-one. The question is whether “slow and teamwork” will triumph over “fast and stardom”. As Kevin Durant potentially plays his last season for OKC, he and Westbrook will end their possible partnership on a high note, taking over the series and putting Memphis on the ropes offensively. Oklahoma City wins 4-1.

First Round: 2.Golden State Warriors v. 7.Minnesota Timberwolves

After winning the title last season, the Warriors are looking for another championship run. I don’t think Minnesota has a chance at beating Golden State, mainly because they simply are not good enough. Karl-Anthony Towns, the first overall pick of the 2015 NBA draft, Zach LaVine, a second year player, and Shabazz Muhammad, a third year player, are still trying to find their way into having success in the NBA, even though they will start for the Timberwolves. Andrew Wiggins, only a sophomore, will not reach stardom yet, even though he will play quality minutes as well. Ricky Rubio, Andre Miller, and Nikola Pekovic will not be enough to take down “the dubs”. Golden State wins 4-1.

Western Conference Semifinals: 1.San Antonio Spurs v. 5.Los Angeles Clippers

This series matchup will also be tough to predict, considering both teams are not only experienced but also extremely deep. They both know how to score, so defense will most likely decide who moves on. For the Spurs’ case, they should have nothing to worry about. Kawhi Leonard has shown his defensive prowess since his NBA All-Defensive Second Team selection in 2014. Coach Gregg Popovich knows how to motivate his team to play at a higher level, so I don’t believe for a second that the Spurs won’t step up on the defensive side of the ball. The Clippers used to only be about offense, but they have been improving their defense ever since the acquisition of coach Doc Rivers in 2013. In the end, the Clippers will fall short again on their quest for a Western Conference Final appearance as San Antonio wins one of the most competitive playoff series in NBA history 4-3.

Western Conference Semifinals: 2.Golden State Warriors v. 6.Oklahoma City Thunder

After the Thunder’s surprising upset over the third-seeded Grizzlies, millions of people will cheer for them to take down the defending NBA champions. There is just one problem, though. OKC does not move the ball well at all. This is a must in order to even have a chance at beating Golden State. Without this concept, it is almost impossible to win a game, let alone a series, against GSW. The sad part is ball movement is not something Oklahoma City can fix. They have built their offense around Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant for years, and to change it this late in the season against the defending champs would be crazy. Don’t get me wrong, the Thunder can play great defense at times; they just won’t be able to keep up with the Warriors offensive pace. Golden State wins this series 4-2.

Western Conference Finals: 1.San Antonio Spurs v. 2.Golden State Warriors

Well, what do you know. The two best teams in the Western Conference going into the 2015-2016 NBA season are competing for a spot in the NBA Finals. Will the Spurs get there for the third time in the last four years, or will the Warriors give themselves a chance to repeat? First, both teams, as expected, move the ball incredibly well. They have two of the best organized defenses in the entire league as well. The Spurs win in coaching experience, but the Warriors’ Steve Kerr has already proven his credibility with an NBA championship in his rookie year. How can anyone pick a winner out of these two franchises? The only way is to look deep into their rosters.

San Antonio has maintained their chemistry with the same group of guys for years, and the additions of LaMarcus Aldridge and David West will not mess it up. If anything, it will strengthen the Spurs’ starting and second rotations. Tony Parker is a versatile point guard that is capable of taking over games. Kawhi Leonard will finally peak to stardom and make the his first appearance in the All-Star game. In order to beat the Warriors, the players on San Antonio’s bench all have specific roles that they will need to display on the court. Manu Ginobili’s three point shooting, Patty Mills’ three point shooting, and Boris Diaw’s passing ability and vision are all things that the Spurs need from their bench.

Golden State’s roster is as talented as the Spurs. They have not only last year’s MVP, Steph Curry, but also most of the players from their championship run. Their starting lineup are dominant enough both offensively and defensively. The Warriors’ backups are reliable as well. While Steph Curry rests, Shaun Livingston’s defense can work quite nicely with Klay Thompson’s defensive capabilities. Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli are intimidating as well with the size and strength that they impose on their opponents in the paint.

There is one major difference between these teams, though: the Warriors are better at individual defense. This gives them a huge advantage by the end of the game because they can generate transition points from their one-on-one stops. Although this will help get easy points against an already tough defense, this will not be factor because the Spurs score most of their points from their ball movement. The real factor will be the point guard battle between Steph Curry and Tony Parker. Curry is one of the best shooters in the game, but he can not defend. Tony Parker will take advantage of this fault throughout the series as he as done before so many times in his career. Because Coach Popovic will surely find a way to at least reduce the gifted point guard’s production, Tony Parker’s playmaking ability will, ultimately, win it for the Spurs. In an “experience versus talent” series, San Antonio will defeat Golden State 4-3.

NBA Finals: 2.Chicago Bulls v. 1.San Antonio Spurs

Finally, my prediction of the NBA Finals. I know most people would not have expected me to stay with the Bulls (of all teams) this far into the playoffs. Since I am so invested into this franchise, why wouldn’t I pick them to win the NBA championship? Look at their roster, their leadership, their improvements offensively, their trademark defense, and, most importantly, their togetherness. These are all qualities that describe NBA champions. What about the Spurs, though? Don’t they have these qualities as well? Yes, they do. In fact, most teams who make it to the finals are similar in almost every aspect of basketball. This is precisely why it is so difficult to pick a winner at this point. The intangibles have always been the real factors in determining the NBA champion, and I have to go with endurance and adversity as the ones that decide the winner of this series. The togetherness that both teams will show during this season will prove how much more they are willing to work for each other in this last matchup of the playoffs. When it comes to adversity, though, Chicago has the advantage here. Ever since Derrick Rose’s first major injury in the 2012 playoffs, they have been grinding it out without their star player for most of each season not only for pride but also for the NBA championship. After never letting go of their dream, they will finally have a chance to fulfill it. The Chicago Bulls defeat the San Antonio Spurs 4-2 for the NBA championship.


NBA 2015 Open Court - 2016 Nba Finals Predictionshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0TtSn9h3So

ESPN FIRST TAKE - NBA FINALS PREDICTION 2016 - OKC AND CAVS!!! Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless