With the rising tide of allergy season comes the NBA Playoffs; a seemingly-endless series of seven games that repeats itself until the kids are done with school and someone is crowned NBA champion. It took until the final night of the regular season, but the 2015 seedings are finally set and the teams ready to face off. So how do you break down the match-ups? With Bolt Thrower songs, obviously.
No. 1 Atlanta Hawks vs. No. 8 Brooklyn Nets
The Hawks were an also-ran for years in the East, making the playoffs giving a good show of it against a better opponent and then wilting. But this year they’re a team of destiny, they just have to get rid of the pesky eight seed this year who happens to be… the Brooklyn Nets?
Sneaking in under the auspice of the last game of the season, the Nets get a salary bump for their oligarch owner for at least two home games before they’re sent home.
#Nets tied for 18th-best record in the NBA, 12-31 vs. .500 or better teams, outscored by 236 points = playoffs, obviously.
— Mike Mazzeo (@MazzESPN) April 16, 2015
No. 2 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. No. 7 Boston Celtics
Look, good for the Celtics for getting that seventh seed and great for Isaiah Thomas for being a champ on his third team in eight months, but the Celtics are going to be done before their sneakers touch the court. LeBron and Kyrie and Timofy and that other guy, Love something, are just going to lay them out. Whether the Cavs go further and get into the Finals, that don’t really matter now. No way are a Celtics team with Kelly Olynyk at the five(!) and a guy named Luigi winning a series.
No. 3 Chicago Bulls vs. No. 6 Milwaukee Bucks
With the Bulls/Bucks match-ups we get a meeting between two psychologically adept head coaches. Bulls Tom Thibodeau is notorious for running his players into the ground and pushing them beyond their means like an army general. Last year Jason Kidd got one of his players to run into him and knock a soda on the court so he could have additional time to draw up a play.
Okay, so a chess match this is not, but Kidd has been impressive in his first year with Milwaukee and Thibs is on the bubble more so in this year than he ever has been before, so all the stops will be pulled in order for one of these teams to advance.
No. 4 Toronto Raptors vs. No. 5 Washington Wizards
In Battle There is No Law
These two teams are evenly-matched in terms of talent; both have stellar backcourts, an untraditional big man and coaches that frustrate the team and the fans. The Raptors owned the series against Washington during the regular season, but the Wizards were pretty up and down and ended the season having figured it out just a little bit better. The series will be ruthless.
No. 1 Golden State Warriors vs. No. 8 New Orleans Pelicans
Blind to Defeat
The Warriors went a staggering 67-15 this season, thwarting all opponents without breaking a sweat. At no time during the season did they look flustered on the court behind the 23.8 points and 7.7 assists per game of Steph Curry.
At the same time, the New Orleans Pelicans had to claw their way into that eighth seed by way of Anthony Davis residing in Beast Mode most season. The Pels aren’t expected to get past GSW, but cheers for Playoff Brow!
No. 2 Houston Rockets vs. No. 7 Dallas Mavericks
Challenge for Power
The State of Texas has been owned by the San Antonio Spurs for the past decade, but the two other teams meet up in the first round. James Harden lead the Rockets with his MVP-caliber year, picking up his defense for the first time ever and running opponents into the ground. But the Mavs always seem to pull something out of their sleeves in the playoffs (except when they eat it and get swept in the first round). A fading Dirk Nowitzki and a rising Harden on the court at the same time will be well worth the watch.
No. 3 Los Angeles Clippers vs. No. 6 San Antonio Spurs
Denial of Destiny
Will the Spurs be able to repeat as champions for the first time in team history? Or will the upstart Clippers deny their destiny and create a whole new era for Flop City Lob City? The Spurs were banged up all season long and seemed rudderless, but no sane person would ever count them out. As the health increased, they wrecked opponents, losing only four games in the final two months of the season. The Clippers didn’t get the attention they deserve, because Chris Paul was out of the conversation on a nightly basis due to the play of James Harden and Steph Curry, but ending with the third seed in a crazy-competitive Western Conference is no joke.
No. 4 Portland Trail Blazers vs. No. 5 Memphis Grizzlies
Concession of Pain
The Blazers and Grizzlies are both chock-full of injuries. Memphis’ Mike Conley and Tony Allen may not be available for part of the series while Portland is without shooting expert Wes Matthews, and CJ McCollum, Nicholas Batum and Arron Afflalo are all banged up. Not to mention, LaMarcus Aldridge has been playing with a busted thumb for about half the season.
In many ways this series could turn to the 12th round of a boxing match as the two teams wobble and wheeze their way through the injuries. Playoffs normally get a tighter rotation of players, but with the lack of depth on both of the teams, this is not going to be pretty.