Will They Make It Or Not? NBA Predictions For The Postseason

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Will They Make It Or Not? NBA Predictions For The Postseason

Will Germann, Author

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For months, basketball fans have been talking about who will win the NBA title during the 2017-2018 season. Prior to the start of the regular season, the clear winner was the Golden State Warriors, who had four all-stars and easily won the title in the previous season. However, as the regular season comes to a close and we head into the playoffs next month, the odds have changed.

The Houston Rockets have been dominating every team they’ve played recently. As of March 16, they are on a 16-game win streak—the biggest streak any team has had this season. On the other hand, the Cleveland Cavaliers are slowing down and, in my opinion, are falling apart. Therefore, I think it’s necessary to examine every team’s chances of making the playoffs and predict how far they’ll get if they make it past the regular season. I will disregard the teams that are rebuilding and have no postseason potential.

Miami Heat

This team’s success has impressed NBA fans nationwide. Most people didn’t think they had it in them to even squeeze into the playoffs. In my NBA predictions written in the preseason, I said they would get 11th seed. Now, it will take a miracle for them to not make the playoffs. They are currently 8th seed, meaning they are at the last spot that can make the playoffs. However, if the season were to end today, the Heat will have to face the first seed Toronto Raptors in the first round of the playoffs. The Raptors are on a roll this season, so they would face the Heat with a pretty tough challenge. Obviously, Dwyane Wade has helped the Heat out a lot since he came back from his half-season in Cleveland where he wasn’t playing like himself.

Boston Celtics

The Celtics had a great start to the season. While they have since slowed down slightly, they are still holding their ground in the East and will make the playoffs with ease. Some people expect them to go onto the Eastern Conference finals, and some even expect them to make the finals. While I wouldn’t be surprised if they made the Conference finals, I think the Raptors are showing lots of talent this season, more than the Celtics. While the Cavs haven’t played like a Conference final contender team in the regular season, they are known for being one step better come the playoffs. Therefore, I don’t think they will get to the Conference finals over the Cavs and Raptors.

Philadelphia 76ers

The Sixers are no longer considered an easy win for opponents. They have proven that they are a solid team, with all-star Joel Embiid dominating any opponent he’s put up against. They should make the playoffs, but how far they’ll get is the question. If the seeding stays the same for the remainder of the season, the Sixers will face the third-seed Pacers in the first round. I don’t think the Sixers can get past the Pacers, as the Pacers have beat them in the majority of regular season games. 

Toronto Raptors

Currently the first seed, the Raptors have been impressive this season. They were expected to do well, but not many predicted them to be this dominant. They have already clinched the playoff berth, so that’s not their worry. Their most impressive accomplishment, to me, was when they snapped the Rockets’ 17-game win streak. However, they do have a history of not performing well in the playoffs, so we’ll see how they play come playoff time.

Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavs haven’t seen the success expected of them in the regular season. While they have been able to beat easy opponents (at least most of the time), they seem to struggle against championship contender teams. If they don’t prove they’re worthy to beat every team from the first round to the finals, they technically aren’t a championship contender. However, they have a history of performing a lot better in the playoffs with “Lebron’s playoff mode.” Fortunately, they have a better chance of making the finals than teams in the Western Conference do. The Cavs are currently trailing the Raptors, Celtics, and now Pacers in the standings, and they have not seen as good success against these teams as a Cavs fan would hope for.

Detroit Pistons

Currently one spot away from making the playoffs at ninth seed, the Pistons are trying their hardest to knock out the Bucks or the Heat from the playoffs with their recently signed power forward, Blake Griffin. However, even with Griffin, I don’t think the Pistons have it in them to make the playoffs.

Indiana Pacers

It will take a lot for this team to miss the playoffs. While I do believe they are an underrated team, competitors like the Raptors, Cavs, and Celtics usually perform better. Pacers fans should be happy they made the playoffs with Paul George gone. If the season were to end today, the Pacers would play the 76ers in the first round of the playoffs. While this should be a good matchup that I expect to go past Game 4, the Pacers have beat the Sixers in the regular season, so I think they will do the same in the playoffs. Getting past the second round is questionable, though.

Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks have looked pretty nice this season, and they should be able to make the playoffs, but I don’t expect them to get past the first round. If the seedings stay the same, they will play the second-seed Celtics, who ultimately have more talent.

 Charlotte Hornets

The Hornets aren’t going to the playoffs. They did reach ninth seed at one point, but they don’t have the power to make the playoffs this season. They’re not bad enough to get a top-five lottery pick even if they tried, but they also aren’t a playoff worthy team.

 Washington Wizards

Currently at fifth seed, the Wizards should make the playoffs with ease. Unfortunately for them, they would have to go up against the Cavs in the first round. The Cavs have a history of being a whole different team come the playoffs, a team that should be able to beat the Wizards.

Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets are really hoping they can make the playoffs. Currently tenth seed in their talented conference, it is a debate on whether or not they can steal the eighth-seed spot. Personally, I don’t think they’ll bypass the Spurs, Jazz and Clippers, meaning I expect them to barely miss the playoff. 

Minnesota Timberwolves

I’d be surprised if the Timberwolves are knocked out of the playoff spots in the few weeks that remain. They are probably going to be put up against the Warriors, whom I expect to win the whole series with ease.

 Oklahoma City Thunder

OKC has had their ups and downs. Like the Timberwolves, I expect this team to make the playoffs with ease. They are the fourth seed, and they are probably going to be put up against the Pelicans. This will be a good matchup, with Russell Westbrook against Anthony Davis. I expect this series to go at least six games, and I think OKC will take the series in a tough battle.

Portland Trail Blazers

The Blazers should keep their playoff spot with ease. I also expect them to get past at least the first round with ease. How much farther they will get after the first round is the question. Depending on who they would be put up against in the second round, I don’t think they’ll get knocked out in the second series.

Utah Jazz

I don’t think this team can make the playoffs due to the tough opponents in their conference. But they do have an easy schedule for the remainder of the season, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they make it.

 Golden State Warriors

The Warriors have been slightly less promising than people predicted. Nevertheless, this may just be because it is the regular season. Preseason, everyone was predicting this defending-champ squad to win yet another title. Their biggest problem is the Rockets, who have been more dominant than the Warriors in the regular season. There’s not a doubt in many people’s minds that the Western Conference Finals will include the Warriors vs. the Rockets. If they weren’t in the same conference, I would have predicted this matchup in the finals, but since they are indeed in the same conference, only one team can make it to the finals. I think the Rockets have a better chance of making the finals — in the three regular-season games they’ve played so far, the Rockets have won two, while the Warriors have only won one.

Los Angeles Clippers

With lots of trades and injuries, including the recent trade of Blake Griffin to the Pistons, this team has had to adjust to a new roster multiple times. They also lost Chris Paul in the offseason, who was their star player alongside Blake Griffin. Their head coach, Doc Rivers, has done a good job adjusting to these changes.

Los Angeles Lakers

Sorry, LaVar Ball, but the Lakers are in too hard of a conference to make the playoffs. They have a decent squad, one that could possibly be enough to clinch the playoffs in the East. Unfortunately for them, the Western Conference, again, has too much talent for the Lakers to make the playoffs. 

Houston Rockets

This team is showing real potential to win the title. They are currently dominating the league in many aspects. Expect to see them make the semi-finals, if not the finals. Their biggest challenge right now is the Warriors, who were the favorites to win the title before the season began. While there are a number of talented teams in the West, I don’t think any team in the Western Conference can get past the Rockets or the Warriors in the playoffs. Their 17-game win streak recently snapped to the Raptors, who are also doing better than expected this season.

New Orleans Pelicans

The Pelicans’ star player, Anthony Davis, is receiving lots of love for his dominance on the court. He makes the highlights all the time, and he has pretty much carried the Pelicans to the playoffs. Saying that the Pelicans will get to the Western Conference finals is a stretch due to the tough competition in their conference, but they will most likely get past a couple playoff rounds. Nevertheless, they are on the right track. How successful they are really just depends on how bad Anthony Davis wants it. 

San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs are performing a little worse than expected this season. The Spurs are currently tenth seed, which is a surreal sight for NBA fans — the Spurs haven’t missed the playoffs since Tim Duncan was drafted by the Spurs in 1997. However, with Tim Duncan retired and Kawhi Leonard injured this whole season, they are on track to snap their 20-season playoff streak. Fortunately for the Spurs, Leonard is expected to come back very soon, and he may be able to carry the Spurs to the eighth seed in the few weeks that remain in the regular season. If they were to squeeze into a playoff spot, the Western Conference is too stacked for the Spurs to get very far. That said, Leonard is going to be the deciding factor in whether the Spurs will make the playoffs.

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