This is my NBA 2017 playoff bracket. It may be a bit surprising to you, however I fervently believe that both 1 seeds (and the Cavs) will not make the Finals this year. Iʻll include some final remarks to this bold opinion at the end of the piece, but I want to explain my thought process for each of my playoff selections first, starting with the first round.
8 Bulls vs. 1 Celtics- The Celtics have confidence on their side, especially against a hurt Bulls team. Canʻt fathom the Bulls winning a game in this series. Celtics in 4.
5 Hawks vs. 4 Wizards- The Wizards have been under the radar all year. This team has the second best back court in the East (barring the Raptors) and I just canʻt see how the Hawks can get around that. With that being said, the Hawks are really solid this year. I just feel that they lost their Finals potential with their trading of Korver. Wizards in 6.
6 Bucks vs. 3 Raptors- The Raptors, similarly to the Wizards, have been underrated this year so far. They have the best point differential in the east and made the move for Ibaka, who was exactly what the Raptors needed to up their Finals potential. The Bucks have had an outstanding year and Antetokounmpo has been at the forefront. I just have a hard time seeing how one player on a team with otherwise average talent can beat this red-hot Raptors team. Toronto in 5.
7 Pacers vs. 2 Cavaliers- This season for the Cavs, and particularly for LeBron, has been nothing short of adversity. From all the injuries to their recent struggles to defend, it has been short of many expectations. The Pacers have been quite the opposite as of late. Currently on a 5 game win streak, they are not going to be walked over in the playoffs this year. To me, this is the closest series of the first round. Cavs squeak by in 7.
8 Blazers vs. 1 Warriors- This one really is a no brainer. Warriors are the best team in the league facing the worst team in the playoffs. No disrespect to the Blazers, and Lillard in particular, but they really do have no chance. With that being said, the Blazers are hot and will barely win one game. Warriors in 5.
5 Jazz vs. 4 Clippers- I have respected the Jazz this year. They have played outstanding defense, probably the best in the NBA this year, and I cannot see them losing to this Clippers team. In fact, I believe they will be confident out the gate and finish them off early. Jazz in 4.
6 Thunder vs. 3 Rockets- The Thunder have had a wild year. Starting with Durant leaving and ending in housing the probable MVP Westbrook. So when the Rockets clash with the Thunder, I have a hard time saying that the Rockets have the advantage. Yes, their team is significantly stronger than the Thunder. However, the Thunder do have some forgotten weapons such as Kanter, Adams, and Oladipo. I think that these guys will step it up after Westbrook is given MVP and on the flip-side, morale will be lost in the Rockets locker room after Harden does not receive it. Thunder win in 6.
2 Spurs vs. 7 Grizzlies- The Spurs have been excellent all year and it is this consistency that gives me little worry about their chances of advancing this round. Spurs in 5.
4 Wizards vs. 1 Celtics- The Celtics have the confidence, coaching, and players to win this series against the Wizards. I do love the Wizards this year, but the Celtics are the best all-around team in the East and because of this, they will win this series. Celtics in 6.
3 Raptors vs. 2 Cavaliers- If the Pacers series goes the way I think it will, then the Raptors will stomp the Cavs in this series. The Cavs are going to have a hard time defending, plus the fact that James is going to be overplayed, only spell disaster for the Cavs. Raptors in 6.
5 Jazz vs. 1 Warriors- This series will be the closest in the second round. The Warriors are the best team in the West, but the Jazz are a team that has been overlooked this year and will put up one great fight against this team. Their scheming can be challenging to score against and Gobert should have an easy time scoring on Golden States bigs. This was probably the toughest decision for me out of all of these results, but I have to go with the Warriors in a nail-biting game 7 based solely off of experience.
6 Thunder vs. 2 Spurs- On the contrary, this is quite the easiest decision for me. The Spurs are the best coached team in the league and will easily defeat a team whose offense revolves around one player. Spurs in 4.
3 Raptors vs. 1 Celtics– This really has no logic to it. I just really have a strong feeling about this yearʻs Raptors. Maybe the Celtics get cocky over the fact that they donʻt have to play Cleveland. Maybe the Raptors feel healthy pressure that Lowry might consider leaving if they cannot make a Finals run. Maybe its confidence off the coattails of a victory against James. Maybe its all of these things. I just feel like the Raptors have a good chance to show up for this series against the Celtics. Raptors in 7.
2 Spurs vs. 1 Warriors- For me, fatigue will be a major factor in this series. Spurs are coming off of a 4 game series and the Warriors are doing quite the opposite after beating the Jazz in 7. I imagine that the Jazz series will be physically taxing, and because of this, it will be hard for the Warriors to play the same amount of minutes they usually do. Add the fact that the Warriors have, subjectively, the worst bench in the league and its hard to see the Spurs struggle in this series. Spurs in 5.
3 Raptors vs. 2 Spurs- Fatigue will also be a factor in this series, however to a much less drastic degree. The Spurs have the experience which the Raptors lack. The Spurs have Leonard, a guy who has already won a Finals MVP award and a coach who has been to countless Finals before this. It is hard for me to see them lose to a team that lacks these credentials. I will be secretly rooting for the Raptors, but I have the Spurs winning the NBA Finals in 6.
So, to review, I have the Spurs winning the Finals against the Raptors this year. I believe the Celtics will be eliminated by the Raptors in the conference finals. I believe the Cavs will fall because of the Pacers hot streak causing fatigue sizable enough to fall to a respectable Raptors team and I think the Jazz will put up a great fight against the Warriors, causing them to lose mainly because of fatigue.
Thanks for reading. Song(explicit)