The time has finally come. We are less than 24 hours away from the 2015 NBA Playoffs. This is the time of the year where every NBA fan makes their predictions and either brags when it comes to fruition or deny they ever predicted the Celtics to beat the Cavaliers in the first place. That’s essentially what this space is for, but I’m taking a slightly more unorthodox approach. Instead of simply picking who will win each series and who will make the Finals, I’ll make bold statements that’ll make me look like a either a genius or fool. Let’s get started.
Derrick Rose will have a statement game and surpass 30 points in a game
The fact that this is a bold statement shows how much Rose has fallen from grace. It feels like ages ago since Rose averaged 27.1 points in 16 games in the 2011 postseason.
Rose missed 31 games this season, but actually played his most games since that 2011 season. Rose finished this season with a career-low (not including last season) 15.94 PER. Rose has failed to return to his MVP form (other than some flashes here and there) and has resorted to a shot-chucking, off-kilter style of play that has led to some ugly games and of course, more injuries. Rose has only played five games since Feb. 23, including playing just 10 minutes against Atlanta on Wednesday.
Still, this will be our first chance to see Playoff Rose since he tore his ACL against Philadelphia in 2012. I think Rose will come out with renewed intensity and aggression that’ll lead to some disarray, but also some spurts of excellence.
Rose will probably play four or five games against Milwaukee and five or six games against Cleveland.
Rose averaged 10.5 points while shooting 21.7 percent in two games against the Bucks and 22.7 points while shooting 46.3 percent in three games against the Cavaliers this season, plus he torched Kyrie Irving for 30 points in 24 minutes in the preseason.
The Bucks series will probably be pretty ugly offensively, but expect Rose to light up Irving one more time before the Cavaliers eliminate the Bulls.
The Cleveland Cavaliers will win the NBA title and Kyrie Irving will win Finals MVP
Picking the Cleveland Cavaliers to win the title isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but it doesn’t seem like the popular opinion.
If you’ve even remotely followed the NBA pre-playoff coverage, you’ve probably heard expert after expert talk about how terrible the East is and how stacked the West is. The West has the historically dominant Golden State Warriors with the deadliest one-two punch in the league of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, and despite being the six seed, the San Antonio Spurs aren’t about to relinquish their title defense without a fight.
With the West being the dog fight that it is, there’s no guarantee the Warriors or Spurs will even make it to a series against each other. I don’t see any scenario where the Cavaliers aren’t in the Eastern Conference Finals and I’d be stunned if the Atlanta Hawks could dethrone King James. As I see it, the Cavaliers have what could be a historically easy path to the finals.
I picked the Cavaliers to win the NBA title in the preseason and I’m sticking to my guns here. The Big 3 of LeBron James, Irving and Kevin Love will be too much for any team to handle. James is a mismatch for even the stingiest defenders (yes, even for Draymond Green and Kawhi Leonard), and even though it has felt like he has been coasting most of the season, he’ll still finish top five in MVP voting.
Irving is the only player this season with multiple games of at least 55 points this season, hitting at least seven threes in each of those games. Irving has low key had his best season as a pro with a 21.57 PER, and I think he’ll be surprisingly poised in his first postseason.
Anthony Davis will have a 40-point, 20-rebound game against the Golden State Warriors
Saying Anthony Davis had an incredible season is an understatement. In a season full of historic performances, Davis finished with an NBA-high 30.89 PER, which, according to Basketball-Reference, puts him in company with Wilt Chamberlain, James and Michael Jordan as the only players to finish with that high of a PER in at least 68 games played. The Brow willed the Pelicans to the playoffs as they won eight of their last 11 games to edge past Russell Westbrook and the Thunder for the eight seed.
I’m not about to predict New Orleans to pull off the upset against the Golden State, nor do I think they’ll even win a game, but I see a Davis explosion on the horizon. The Pelicans were seldom nationally televised this season, and it’s about time we’ll get to see the Brow in some meaningful games.
Oddly enough, Davis only has one 20+ rebound game in his career, coming against the Celtics on March 16, 2014 in a 40-point, 21-rebound effort.
Davis will play more minutes and at a faster pace and sense of urgency in the playoffs, which will lead to some stat-stuffing lines. Davis is a mismatch for any team, but it’ll be comical to see the 6’7” Green try to stop him, as great as Green is.
Per Basketball-Reference, Davis would be the fifth player since 1985 to have a 40-20 playoff game, joining Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley and David Robinson. The Brow will continue to find himself in good company.