NBA Playoffs: Second Round So Far/ Predictions

The First Round completes in dramatic fashion. Between Lebron carrying the Cavs over the Pacers and Donovan Mitchell carrying the Jazz over the big 3 in OKC, this post season has been full of surprises. Some of Scoops first round predictions went exactly as planned. Like the Celtics overcoming the Bucks in a tough series and the Rockets making easy work of the Wolves. Some series did not goes as planned, like Indiana and Cleveland going 7 games and the Pelicans upsetting the Blazers.

The Second Round is in full swing and Scoops has some predictions for how this round will close.

Let’s start with the East.

1. Philadelphia 76ers vs. Boston Celtics

Boston Up 2-0 🔴⚪️🔵 ☘️

At first glance, this series looks like a pretty easy call. Boston is short vital players and Philly just got back theirs in Joel Embiid. Even with this, Boston won game 1. They had big performances from Rozier, Tatum, and Horford to lift them over the Sixers. Game 2 was a disappointing one for the Sixers as well, as the Celtics took that game from Philly. Now the Sixers need to win 2 in a row to stay alive in this series. Scoops would like to see Philly in the Conference Finals this season (sorry, not sorry Celtic fans). As impressed as I have been with Boston this season, Philly has more talent and potential to go the distance.

Sixers defeats Celtics 4-3.

This prediction can easily be wrong. Boston has shown they are more than capable of keeping up with their Eastern Conference opponents so far. If they defeated Philly, it would be no surprise to me. Even with Philly trailing in the series, I still believe the talent and shooting on that team can overcome.

We shall see.

2. Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Toronto Raptors

Cavs Up 2-0 ⚔️ 🦖

Toronto should be concerned. They lost 2 straight at home and are now trying to just survive the series on the road. Lebron James has been on a tear this post season and has made it his mission to take this team to the Finals again. Everyone knows Toronto can’t fully be trusted in the post season especially against Lebron. This team has lost to Lebron multiple times in this scenario and are on pace to do so again. If they do lose, it will be to Lebron’s worst supporting cast in years, and they might need to consider some kind of overhaul. As good as Dwayne Casey and this team was in the regular season, they’ve been sub par in the post season when it really counts.

Raptors defeat Cavaliers 4-3.

Scoops refuses to give the Cavs a series this post season. If Lebron proves me wrong every series and gets to the Finals that is fine. There is a minor problem with every team he will face this post season. Indiana wasn’t a good enough team, Toronto crumbles in the post season, Philly is too young and Boston is missing pieces. I can’t give Lebron the upper hand in any series because of Cleveland’s roster.

Plenty of series left in this one, and it can go either way.

Now the West.

1. GS Warriors vs. NO Pelicans

Warriors up 2-0 ☀️ 🐤

The Pelicans put on an impressive performance in the first round against the Portland TrailBlazers. Most people saw Portland’s high seeding and how impressive they have been and cast that series aside as an easy call. I was one of those people, and the Pelicans proved me wrong. They had made me believers in the NO backcourt and Anthony Davis. Now they face the biggest challenge of the post season: how to beat the reigning champions. The Warriors turned it on in the first round and did what we already knew they could do, which is play tough defense and score with ease. The Warriors pose multiple matchup problems for the Pelicans, specifically in Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. Not many people on the Pelicans roster can keep up with those guys. Throw in a healthy Steph Curry and playoff Draymond Green, and this team is as scary as ever. Golden State is up 2-0 heading to New Orleans, and the Pelicans need to take both or even just one of these home games to stay alive. Winning two games in a row against the reigning champs is a tall task, but not impossible.

Warriors defeat Pelicans 4-1

This series could easily be a sweep the way the Warriors have been playing so far in the post season. I’m giving the Pelicans the chance to steal one at home, and then lose in game 5 at the Oracle. Keep in mind the Pelicans have their own matchup problem against the Warriors in AD, and if Davis goes off he could keep the dream alive.

2. Houston Rockets vs. Utah Jazz

Series tied 1-1 🚀 🎷

Another series that many believed to be over before it started. The Rockets have been outstanding this season as they look to make a push to the NBA Finals. Their opponents won’t let that happen without a fight. Utah have already upset one team with high caliber players and they look to do the same in the semis. They already stole a game at Houston, and now have 2 home games which could spell trouble for Houston. Houston has the firepower and talent to steal one or even both games in Utah. Houston wants to prove they’re head and shoulders the superior team, and Utah wants to show they aren’t afraid of anybody.

Houston wins 4-2

If Houston steals one game in Utah, then the series would be tied 2-2. Then the next game would be in Houston where advantage goes to the Rockets. They win that game and then close out in Utah in game 6. If they lose any of those games, then this series goes to 7 games and finishes in Houston and the Rockets win 4-3. The Rockets do not want this to happen. They want to wrap this series up as quickly as possible so they can be well rested for the conference finals. Every basketball fan is aware that the western conference finals matchup we will most likely see is the Rockets vs. the Warriors. Two of the best teams in basketball going toe to toe in a 7 game series. This is what we all want to see.

But not if Utah can help it.

These are Scoops predictions for the second round. One thing is for sure: this post season has been full of curveballs.

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LeBron Escapes the First Round

Yes, you read the title right. It isn’t “Lebron triumphs in first round” or “Lebron defeats the Pacers” it’s “Lebron Escapes the First Round”. The Cavaliers made it out of Round 1 by 4 points thanks to a colossal effort by LeBron James. He had 45 points and was close to a triple double, while the rest of his team had a sub par performance. Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love put in average performances, and everyone else on the team went negative in the plus minus column. The only person on the Cavs roster to have a 20+ point game in the entire series was named LeBron James. The only difference between the Pacers and the Cavaliers was Lebron. He won the first round by himself, as the rest of his team is very inconsistent.

People confuse my lack in confidence in the Cavaliers as my lack in confidence in LeBron James. Don’t get it twisted: LeBron James is the best basketball player on the planet. It’s his team I lack confidence in. Their pieces don’t impress me, and they don’t have the firepower to go far in the playoffs. The supporting cast has been very bad so far, and will continue to do so. With the team underperforming, LeBron has had to play out of his mind. The things he has done to ensure victory for his team is superhuman, and has been all year long. He has kept his team alive and helped them move onto the next round (barely), but can he beat the next opponents in his way?

The Cavaliers semi finals matchup will be the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors proved to be impressive in the regular season, and are now a bit more battle tested after knocking off the Washington Wizards in the first round. Lebron James himself said he was tired after going the distance with Indiana and now has to face one of the best Eastern Conference teams this season. There are only 2 advantages LeBron may have in the second round. First is the fact that the Raptors do not have a very good reputation in the playoffs. They have been known to shrink in the post season, and play iso ball in the closing minutes of games rather than stick to their strengths in moving the ball. Second, they do not have a good reputation against LeBron James. There have been times in the past where Lebron beats the Raptors by taking over the game and physically dominating them. If Lebron wants a chance to head to the Conference Finals, he needs both of those things to work in his favor.

I have refused to roll with the Cavaliers this season because I do not like their roster. LeBron is the best in the world, but his team is not. Does this mean it is impossible for them to make it to the Finals this season? No. The Raptors could fall apart and lose to the Cavs. The lack of experience could lead the Sixers to lose to LeBron in the Conference Finals. This would lift LeBron and the Cavs to the NBA Finals, where they would definitely get destroyed by whoever their matchup would be. As much as I would like to see them in the Finals (if you couldn’t tell, that was sarcasm) I highly doubt that will happen. I expect a Semi or maybe even Conference Final exit for LeBron and the Cavs.

🤷‍♂️

@ me.

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Pelicans Break Out the Broom

How many people saw this one coming? The Pelicans shut down the Blazers and won their first round series in 4 games. As soon as we saw the series favoring the Pelicans, the first question was: Is this because of the dominance of the Pelicans? Or is it lack of dominance from the Blazers?

The answer? Both (shoutout to Radio)

The Pelicans played great defense from the start of the series to the end. The backcourt of Holiday and Rondo kept the backcourt of Lillard and McCollum from taking over the series. Not only that, but they each played their roles on offense very well. Rondo facilitated the ball like the floor general we all know he can be when playing to his fullest potential. Jrue Holiday showed that he is one of the best two-way guards in the league. Playing off ball seems to be the best role for him, and it was evident in this series. We haven’t even gotten to Anthony Davis yet. One of the best players in basketball today, they needed AD to play big and he did. He was on the glass, played tough interior defense, and scored in a variety of ways. He is widely considered the best two-way big in basketball. Throw in the fact that role players like Ian Clark, Darius Miller, and Nikola Mirotic (boy, did he have himself a series) did their jobs off the bench and the fact that they swept isn’t so shocking anymore. When playing their best, this Pelicans squad is a good team, the question was were they going to show up? They answered the call with a giant yes.

For the Blazers, they underperformed. Most of the shots from the Blazers dynamic duo were very difficult shots because of how well the defense was playing them. Many argue that difficult shots is what they are known for, which is true, but the majority of their shots this series were more difficult than usual. When Dame and C.J. have a difficult time putting points up, the Blazers struggle. They don’t have many other offensive pieces, and could not keep up with the Pelicans on offense. The Pels played great defense, and then went down to the other side and got a bucket. Portland’s backcourt is not known for their defense, and the Pelicans backcourt had a great series because of it. Scoops was hoping for a better performance from this team. In fact, I chose them to win this series. I am a huge fan of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, but they lost fair and square in the first round. There’s a lot of talk about splitting up Dame and C.J. And I think that’s a terrible idea. These two guys love playing together and compliment each other well. I would give them a little more time to get it together and see what kind of push they can make next year. Disappointing post season in Portland for sure.

Looking ahead to the future, the Pelicans will play the winner of the Warriors-Spurs series (and c’mon now, we all know it will most likely be the Warriors). What will that series look like? If the Pelicans can play the kind of defense they were playing in the first round, it can be very interesting. No one is willing to bet against Golden State, but the Pelicans can definitely make it a fun series. I have a feeling the Pelicans mindset is -Even though everyone is surprised we swept the team with the better record in the first round, we’re not. We knew we could do that, and we’re not afraid of who steps in front of us. We want to go all the way-. If the Pelicans beat the Warriors, that will be one of the biggest shocks in the playoffs in recent memory.

Let’s also keep in mind, New Orleans is doing all of this without Demarcus Cousins. I’m sure everyone is wishing him well, even though some think they are playing better without him. Either way, props to them.

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Lebron James: Worried about Game 3?

Lebron and the Cavs recently won game 2 in Cleveland against the Indiana Pacers. Lebron had an amazing game, putting up 46 points and 12 rebounds. Everyone is aware of what Lebron can do on the court, and this performance was not a surprise. Lebron James is the best player in basketball. But the real question is: Does this performance show how amazing Lebron is, or how poor the Cavs are? The fact that Lebron had to put up these numbers to barely win by 3 points should be alarming to the Cavaliers, even though they picked up the win. The win is important, but they are going on the road for 2 straight games. Will home court make a difference for the Pacers? Can Lebron steal a home game away from Indiana after losing one himself?

Let’s get into it.

Scoops has said since the beginning that the Cavaliers will not make the NBA Finals this season and I’m sticking by that statement. The greatness of Lebron will eventually not be enough to carry this franchise further in the playoffs. The Cavs do not have the talent or any kind of edge other than the name Lebron James. That name is enough for many to automatically put them over every team in the East, but is that justified? Lebron has had a stellar team every time he has won a championship, and this current team is not stellar. With options like George Hill, Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson, and Larry Nance Jr. around him he will not be able to go far. These players are streaky on offense, and the only solid option Lebron has is Kevin Love. Kevin Love is not enough to make me think Lebron can lift this team over teams like the Raptors or at this point even Philadelphia (with a healthy Joel Embiid). People are questioning whether they can even make it out of their first round matchup against Indiana, who have played well in this series. Oladipo was in foul trouble for some of this game, and they still were in it.

Let’s look at some of the Cavaliers supporting roster stats in game 2.

J.R. Smith: 5 points on 5 shots

George Hill: 6 points 2-3 FG

Larry Nance Jr: 2 points 5 rebounds

Rodney Hood: 5 points on 5 shots

Jordan Clarkson: 2 points 1-4 FG

Those are stats from guys playing 15-25 minutes of this game. You need a little more than that from your supporting cast. The only other player that played well was Kevin Love with 15 points and 8 rebounds. Kevin Love needs to step up just a little bit more to make these games swing more towards the Cavs.

The topic was: Should Lebron be worried?

Yes.

Lebron should be. Of course Lebron will show up like he has all season, but the question is will his team show up to play? Lebron needs a better performance out of them, especially on the road. Indiana has proven they came to play this series, and truly believe they can make a run in the post season.

If the Indiana Pacers knock off the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round, everyone will be shaking their heads, and Scoops point of Lebron not making it out of the East will have been proven to be furthest extent.

Scoops is not saying Lebron and the Cavs can’t get it done, but I’m also not saying they will certainly win anymore. It all depends on if the supporting cast laces up and decides to play. This series quickly went from an easy sweep by Lebron to a series everyone wants to watch.

P.S. Scoops, like most of the world when talking about Lebron and the Cavaliers, talks more about Lebron than the actual Cavs organization. This is because Lebron is the Cavaliers organization. Without Lebron this team would be at the bottom of the East, and nowhere near the playoffs.

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Rest In Peace, Erin Popovich.

Joel Embiid: Should He Play?

🔴⚪️🔵

Joel “The Process” Embiid just cannot seem to stay healthy. He’s missed a large amount of games due to injuries in his career. Injuries that go back to him missing his rookie season, and a lot of his 2nd season. The Philadelphia organization has had him on minute restrictions all season, and have had him sit the 2nd of back to back games. All of these are precautions to protect the future of their franchise. The duo of Embiid and Simmons can be a powerhouse for years to come if they both can remain healthy. They are a tandem that Scoops will love to watch grow and play together.

Now onto his recent injury. Embiid took a shot to the face after an accidental collision late in game with teammate Markelle Fultz. He ended up requiring surgery, and has had to wear a protective face mask when working out. This injury came right before playoff time, so of course Philly has rested Embiid up to this point. Philly’s medical staff have said the date of when Joel Embiid can come back to play depends on his ability to handle the pain and discomfort, and whenever Philadelphia management wants him to come back. Philly and Miami are 1-1 in the first round, and many wonder whether or not they should let Embiid play. Embiid is a matchup nightmare, and one of the hardest players to guard in the entire NBA. Of course his play would help Philly in their fight, but is it worth the risk? What if he gets hit in the face and has to miss more time? Joel has spoken out about his frustrations in regards to his lack of play, and has even expressed himself on social media. He posted on one of his social media accounts how he was “f*cking tired of being babied”. Any athlete sympathizes with Embiid, because everyone knows he’s as competitive as they come. He loves the game of basketball and helping his team win, and being held back when he has the opportunity to help his team succeed in the playoffs has frustrated him.

Philly plays Miami in game 3 tomorrow. The question stands: should he play?

The answer? YES

If I was making the call for Philadelphia, and Joel Embiid said he felt good enough to play, I would put him in the starting lineup. I would consider restricting his minutes, but any minutes he played would be helpful to the cause of helping the Sixers advance. Miami has shown they are going to fight, so Philly needs to give it everything they’ve got. Scoops is aware of everyone’s concerns of Embiid potentially re-injuring himself and missing the entire playoffs or worse, but I would leave it up to Embiid. He’s a competitor with a fire that not a lot of players have. If he wanted in, I would trust his judgment to play and help Philly win. With the recent Lebron struggles (a topic Scoops will cover very soon) and many not trusting Toronto in the playoffs just yet, the idea of the Sixers making it to the NBA Finals has grown from a pipe dream to a very real outcome. I think if Philly goes all in this post season, they can do it. The city of Philadelphia has been winning on many sports platforms, and their is no reason basketball can’t be another.

Let him play. Trust the Process.

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NBA Playoffs Part 2: Eastern Conference 1st Round

Playoffs are in full swing with some surprising games already in the books. Specific games and upsets Scoops will talk about on a later date.

If you want to read about Scoops Western Conference 1st Round predictions, check out my previous article. This one will be discussing the different Eastern Conference matchups and which ones are unpredictable, as well as those that are set in stone. Scoops will give their prediction on who will come out on top.

Let’s start with the matchups that have predictable outcomes.

1. 76ers vs. Heat 🔴⚪️🔵 🔥

Sixers win 4-1

This is a matchup I definitely want to watch, but not for the reasons you may think. I am extremely curious and hopeful about Philadelphia in the post season. I’m a big fan of Ben Simmons, who is also my ROTY pick. The team they have around him is capable of making noise even without Joel Embiid. If I was the Sixers I wouldn’t bring Embiid back until absolutely necessary. Judging by game 1, that won’t be anytime soon. Philly ran through the Heat in game 1, scoring 130 points. The Heat just do not have the talent to keep up with the young stars in Philly. Miami can potentially steal 1 or 2 games if they play Philly right, but it won’t be enough to take em down.

2. Raptors vs. Wizards 🦖 🧙‍♂️

Raptors win 4-1

Toronto took game 1 as many expected them to. They were a top 5 team in offense and defense in the regular season, and have transformed their game as of late. Even with this being true, no one can fully trust them yet. They have yet to prove they can win in the playoffs, and have even been referred to being related to Barney the Dinosaur in terms of how soft their play gets in the post season. I am one of the few that believe they can make the NBA Finals this year, as long as they play how they did in the regular season. They have the advantage over both the Cavs and the Sixers for different reasons (talent, chemistry and experience)

As good as the Raps are, the Wizards do have a small chance to upset them. They also have yet to prove their worth in the post season, and have had chemistry issues with John Wall and the crew. I still like some of the pieces on the team, like Beal, Porter and Oubre. They have talent and are a fun squad to watch, but still not enough for an upset. They were close in game 1, but the better team prevailed. We’ll see how they play in game 2.

Now onto the matchups with a bit more unpredictability.

1. Cavaliers vs. Pacers ⚔️ 🔵

Cavs win 4-2 (maybe)

I understand, the Cavs have Lebron. Thinking of Lebron losing in the 1st round is insane, but hear me out. I have never once doubted Lebron’s skill on the court because the man is the best basketball player in the world. I question the team that surrounds him, and their talent level and ability to help him win. It’s come to a point where Lebron has had 30 and 40 point triple doubles and still loses games. The Cavs have been dysfunctional all season, and the new pieces they have are streaky and inconsistent. They recently lost game 1, and many are starting to doubt if they can even make it to the 2nd round. Scoops thinks Lebron can win just because Indiana is not the most intimidating team to play 1st round, although it looked different in game 1. Lebron is Lebron, and he’ll do what it takes to win.

I will give Indiana their props. Victor Oladipo has been more than impressive lately, and Myles Turner can be a matchup problem for Cleveland. It will certainly be a series people want to see now, and one that people can’t just cast aside as a certain win for Lebron.

2. Celtics vs. Bucks ☘️ 🦌

Celtics win 4-2

Next to the Blazers-Pelicans series, this one may be the most entertaining to watch.

Boston is playing hurt, but still have potential to show out in the playoffs. I don’t think they’ll make it to the Conference Finals because they’re without their best players. However far they get in the post season will be impressive enough.

The Bucks have a game changer in Giannis. He is a matchup nightmare for any team, and has the potential to elevate this team to the next round. His team needs to show up in order for that to happen. The talent they have on this team is overlooked, like Middleton and Bledsoe. Jabari Parker can also be a game changer for them. They need to play their best basketball to win this one.

Game 1 in this series went to OT, and I think this is how most of this series will be: super close.

The First Round is proving to be unpredictable and fun to watch. The outcomes may surprise many, but Scoops is prepared for any outcome.

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NBA Playoffs: Western Conference 1st Round

The Playoffs are upon us basketball fans. The post season is my favorite time of the year. High intensity basketball games on TV all the time, teams clawing tooth and nail for victories, I can’t get enough of it.

In my next 2 articles I will be talking about the 1st round matchups that will have the most unpredictable outcomes as well as the matchups that we’re pretty sure are set in stone. This first article will be covering the teams in the West, while the next one covers the teams in the East.

Let’s start with the matchups that have a predictable outcome.

1. Rockets vs. Timberwolves 🚀🐺

Rockets win 4-1

I love the Timberwolves. KAT is one of my favorite basketball players in the NBA today, and they have a lot of young athletic talent on that team. Does this mean anything when facing the powerhouse Rockets? Not really. The Rockets have been phenomenal, and will carry their momentum into the playoffs. The Wolves have the potential to take one away from the Rockets and make it a 5 game series, but there is no doubt the Rockets will come out on top.

2. Warriors vs. Spurs ☀️⚫️⚪️

Warriors win 4-1

Again, I’m a big fan of the underdog here. What Coach Pop has done with his team this season even through the struggles they’ve had has been nothing short of amazing. He’s arguably the best coach in basketball today, and this team has some young talent that knows how to work together with its vets. Now, does this mean anything when facing the defending champs? No, not really. Even without Steph Curry, the gap in talent is far too wide for the Spurs to come out on top. I give Pop and his Spurs 1 game, making this a 5 game series. Pop won’t make it easy, but it also won’t be enough.

Now onto the matchups with a bit more unpredictability.

1. Trailblazers vs. Pelicans 🔴⚫️🐦

Blazers win 4-3

Scoops had a tough time calling this series “unpredictable”. I’m more than positive the Blazers will come out on top this series. I see Portland’s backcourt and defense being too much of a problem for the Pels. There is one reason and one reason only that I decided to put this series here, and that is Anthony Davis. He’s a top 5 player in the NBA, and someone that no team can prepare for. When AD wants to, he can be unstoppable. He is the best player in the series for either team, and he will need to be unstoppable for his team to have a real shot.

2. Thunder vs. Jazz 🌩🎷

Thunder win 4-2

Everyone knows Utah is the underdog in this matchup. They are being led by a rookie, and don’t exactly have the biggest names on their roster. Has this stopped them from making big waves this season? Absolutely not. They’ve played great this year, thanks in large part to Donovan Mitchell and coach Quin Snyder. This team has played with confidence and trust in each other which are two things every winning team needs to have.

With all that said about Utah, the Thunder are no joke. Russell Westbrook is going to show out this post season. I don’t think Utah has an answer for Westbrook or PG, and that they will be the deciding factors of this series. Utah may have a few tricks up their sleeves, but the Thunder’s big 3 can end this series quickly. Sometimes the talent gap is just too much to overcome.

Like I’ve said before, this post season is different. The underdogs of this year’s playoffs seem to have a real chance of upsetting teams like the Warriors and the Cavs. We’ll have to see how these teams start off in the post season.

Stay tuned for Part 2: the East.

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