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NBA Playoff Predictions

Granted this isn’t daily fantasy related, but I wanted to provide my NBA playoff predictions with some analysis on each series. Most of us are NBA fans outside of daily fantasy, and we will be watching each day. Hopefully some of you have found our research, plays and analysis to be useful. Perhaps these picks will also help you with NBA.com’s fantasy game Drive to the Finals. It’s a pretty cool concept that daily fantasy players should be interested in, although salary isn’t relevant.

Before we get started, here are Bovada’s odds on winning the NBA Finals

Miami Heat 2/1
San Antonio Spurs 3/1
Oklahoma City Thunder 4/1
Indiana Pacers 6/1
Los Angeles Clippers 9/1
Houston Rockets 20/1
Brooklyn Nets 25/1
Golden State Warriors 28/1
Chicago Bulls 40/1
Portland Trailblazers 40/1
Dallas Mavericks 66/1
Memphis Grizzlies 66/1
Toronto Raptors 66/1
Washington Wizards 150/1
Atlanta Hawks 250/1
Charlotte Bobcats 250/1

We will revisit these as we go along. Enjoy.

East:

No. 1 Indiana vs. No. 8 Atlanta (teams split 2-2)

Most people (especially daily fantasy players) remember the Atlanta Hawks embarrassing the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis back on April 6. The Pacers scored 23 first-half points, and the Hawks won comfortably 107-88.

I’m not going to take that game too seriously for obvious reasons. The Pacers were in a slump (are they still?), and it was regular season.

Having said that, there’s one key to the Hawks. That’s Pero Antic. I’m not joking. He’s a stretch 5, which results in pulling Roy Hibbert away from the basket. This is somewhat why I think Chris Bosh playing the 5 is more effective against Indiana than most people think since his general stats don’t look very good. This opens up driving lanes for the guards. However, in the Hawks case, this makes it easier for Paul Millsap down low. Sure, the Pacers could cross-guard, although that means the 6’9″ West is on the 7’0″ Antic, and that hasn’t worked well in the past. The two games Indiana defeated Atlanta, Antic was injured. Antic played in the first contest and dropped 16 points on 6-10 shooting (3-6 from three). He played in the most recent game, went for 18 points on 7-8 shooting (3-4 from three) and Millsap posted a double-double of his own.

This really isn’t a good matchup for Indiana’s frontcourt. However, Paul George should have his way with DeMarre Caroll. George has played fairly well in all four games (despite some weak three-point shooting), and DeMarre Carroll has struggled with his versatility. Furthermore, George has forced 13 steals against him and the Hawks backcourt has been uncomfortable vs. Indiana outside of Kyle Korver’s spot-up three-pointers. Jeff Teague also hasn’t done well outside of the one game Atlanta dominated recently. That’s mainly because it’s difficult to get to the rim against the Pacers and it’s tough to get to the rim.

This is the most underrated series of the entire first round, despite that it’s the witness protection series and it’s getting a lot of the NBA TV treatment. Sorry Indiana and Atlanta fans, but you know attendance and the TV market for your teams is still average at best. This series will go seven games, but the Pacers get it done.

Indiana wins 4-3

No. 2 Miami vs No. 7 Charlotte (Miami won 4-0)

It’s amazing to think the Heat swept the series with Al Jefferson dominating the paint against them. But let’s not forget that the Bobcats lost by one and went to overtime in another contest (Kemba Walker sprained his ankle in that game too). We also can’t forget LeBron James dropping 61 as well.

In a sense, Miami has been very fortunate when it’s played Charlotte. LeBron isn’t going to drop 61 again. They should have lost the game when Walker went down. They survived Big Al and that they (well no one in the NBA really) have no one who can stop him.

In another sense, Charlotte lacks that third scorer to finish the job against Miami. Both are true. It’s very rare you see great performances out of Walker and Gerald Henderson in the same game. That’s not good when MKG never scores and Josh McRoberts will rarely have a big game offensively. There are some bench pieces, but nothing to draw the Heat’s attention (Gary Neal just yelled at me to watch the 2013 NBA Finals again).

It’s not like the Heat are doing much wrong since they are 4-0 vs the Bobcats, but assuming Wade’s and LeBron’s energy is a priority and they want to match up properly, I’d do two things. One, switch Wade and LeBron between who defends Henderson. MKG isn’t a priority and both can handle him. It’s more Henderson running around and using off-the-ball screens. Second, I’d start Haslem at the 5 and make sure Oden gets at least 5-to-10 minutes each game. Bosh can play the 4 versus McRoberts, which will keep him out of foul trouble. Run your other big men (including Chris Andersen) at Jefferson and just have fresh bodies to try and slow him down the best you can.

The Heat will be fine. Charlotte will get one win at home and come close another time in Miami, but that’s it.

Miami wins 4-1

No. 3 Toronto vs No. 6 Brooklyn (teams split 2-2)

This was an outstanding series this season. Did you know two of the games were decided by a single point and another was by four?

Also, this is where I ask you to look back at the odds to win the NBA Finals. Notice that Brooklyn is 25-1 and Toronto is 66-1? Insane, right? Sort of. Brooklyn is not 25-1. They are more like 40-1. It’s only because they have the names Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett along with having a solid record since January. Vegas is also taking advantage of the fact that the Nets were 4-0 vs. the Heat this year, which means very little. This will surprisingly get a fair amount of action, but it’ll be bad public action.

As for the Raptors, are they going to win the finals? Probably not, but for 66-1, I think it’s worth putting a few bucks down. You win the first series, Wade faces an injury with that backcourt and you need to beat a Pacers, Bulls or Wizards team you’ve crushed a few times to get to the finals? Not too bad. Plus, I’ve never heard of a completely healthy No. 3 seed (as long as Amir Johnson is okay after his ankle issue Wednesday) being 66-1 odds. Heck, it’s even 100-1 at some other places.

Okay, the series specifically. This is under the assumption Johnson is okay.

Interestingly, out of the four matchups, only one time (the most recent one) has both teams been somewhat relatively healthy. The Nets took that one by four at home. For whatever reason, Paul Pierce has played well in this series regardless if it’s Johnson, Terrence Ross or Rudy Gay (still by far my favorite trade of the year). The Nets have started playing better by going small and spacing the floor with shooters and scorers.

As for the Raptors, it’s clear that Greivis Vasquez is a lethal contributor off the bench and that Toronto has depth in both the front and backcourt. The guards for Toronto are scary and the Nets really only have one solid perimeter defender in Shaun Livingston. Livingston, however, is battling the toe issue (missed last five games), and this is not the injury you need as a perimeter defender. You can bank on it that Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan will make him run around. Believe it or not, I think Livingston is a huge piece to the puzzle for the Nets in this series. I don’t think they match up well defensively to begin with, but Livingston being out would make it much worse.

Lowry and DeRozan on the other hand have been solid defenders, especially Lowry. He’s an All-Star caliber PG and I don’t say things like that easily. If Brooklyn is going to generate enough offense to win this series, it’ll have to primarily be Pierce and Joe Johnson. Toronto has the depth on both ends of the floor to match Brooklyn. Then it’s the youth vs. playoff experience battle. The difference is the playoff experience for Brooklyn isn’t as warranted when the chemistry and your surroundings aren’t the same (talking about Pierce and Kevin Garnett). This will go seven games, but Toronto’s guards are too much for Brooklyn.

Toronto wins 4-3

No. 4 Chicago vs No. 5 Washington (Washington won 2-1)

The Wizards won the two games in mid January. The Bulls dominated the other on April 5 on the road.

Even though the Wizards had the edge in the series and as much as they’ve improved, I like the Bulls fairly easily in this one.

View all posts by Max J Steinberg
Max J Steinberg

About the Author

Max J Steinberg Max Steinberg is a professional poker player and a top Daily Fantasy player who uses his creativity and mathematical abilities he cultivated as a poker player to win money on both DraftKings and FanDuel. He already has several big tournament scores to his name including the Victiv Bowl and countless MLB Monster wins. Follow him on twitter @maxjsteinberg.

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