You guys smell that? The playoffs are being baked around the corner and the smell is oh so sweet. Unless you are reading this while on the stinker to which the smell may not be so sweet. It’s the time of year where all of our analyzing, guessing, praying,crossing fingers, and sacrifices (either figuratively or literally) come a culminating stop : The Playoffs.
I get excited about the playoffs because it weeds outs the fakes from the real teams. Throughout the regular season, you tend to look at a team differently based on their record and their key wins in a season. The cool thing about the playoffs is that the biggest factor is experience and it makes the playoffs feel like a different breed of NBA basketball. The stakes are now higher, unlike the regular season where there are 82 games, you have to win 4 out of 7 games to progress to the next series. The playoff environment is different because unlike the regular season where you would play a team 4 times in span of 6 months, you now have to play them in back to back to back games. This is a challenge because you have to be ready to change your game plan when it fails, otherwise run the risk of the opposing team of figuring out all your schemes. Home court advantages now become paramount because the crowd has a chance of pushing the team to play better. Overall, the experience is great simply because both teams actually try to win games. (shout out to the Bucks and the 76ers though)
Lets start from the middle and work our ways out.
Houston Rockets Vs Portland Trailblazers
This is a match up I am personally going to pay attention to; There is a whole lot to love about both teams and they match up very well. What is interesting to me is that both these teams had key players that they thought they were going to build their teams around. The Rockets had stock in McGrady and Yao while the Blazers had Roy and prospect Oden before losing these players to injuries. These organizations have quickly revitalized their individual organizations and are both a few players away from being true championship contenders. Regardless these teams are rising teams and I highly recommend to watch this series.
Lets look at stats first, because what I am going to talk about may not make sense if I don’t. Lets talk about how similar these teams are. The Rockets are currently 54-27. The Blazers are 54-28. The Blazers average 106.7 PPG which is 3rd in the NBA while the Rockets average 107.8 which is 2nd. Blazers are 22nd in points allowed per game, the Rockets are 23rd. Both teams have 2 players that went to the All-Star game. To say the least, these teams are very similar, with very good players across the board. So then who has the advantage?
Boils Down To:
Which ever team plays better defense and Dwight Howard.
Yeah, nothing revolutionary, but that is what it is going to come down to. Both of these teams can score yet the Rockets give teams headaches with Dwight Howard in the paint, averaging slightly higher than the Blazers in 2 point percentage ( 53%) and Dwight is averaging roughly 60% in that field. That is a serious problem for the Blazers because Robin Lopez may not have what it takes to slow down Howard. Howard also makes it hard to drive to the paint, so the Blazers are going to have to rely on smart jumpers and wise passes. If the Blazers are going to win, they are going to have to beat the Rockets with offense and that usually does not work out too well. Lillard, Matthews, Aldridge and Batum are all going to have to play better offensively in order to counter the Rockets’s ability to get to the paint. The Rockets injuries to Beverly and Howard may come back to haunt them in this series as well. The Blazers can shoot, and they do it well. Without Howard at 100%, the Rockets will have a hard time containing the Blazers particularly Aldridge with his ability to stretch the floor with long 2 point shots.
Rockets in 6, 4-2
When it comes down to it, you have to look at the match ups and which players can you look to for a basketball when it’s needed most. These two guys above do it better than the combo of Lillard /Aldridge ( Lillard still has a lot to learn, not as experienced as Aldridge) and it will show in late games when the game is close. Also Rockets are 33-8 at home which is one of the best in the NBA. The first two games are games I do not see the Blazers taking those games from Houston. Rockets in 6.
L.A Clippers Vs Golden State Warriors
This match up is going to be all offense baby! This is a real battle of the west coast style teams, as there is going to be a whole lot of 3 point shots, a ton of Alley Oops and high scoring games. The Clippers are number 1 in points per game( 107.9) while the Warriors are 9th in points allowed (99.3). These teams play fast, The Clippers excelling at the fast break and the Warriors being good at rebounding and blocking shots. Both teams have players that can light up the score board but in different ways. Steph Curry runs the risk of shooting out of this world, while at this point in his career we should just call Chris Paul “La Maestro” because he conducts that team in a masterful way. Andre Igoudala is showing why the Warriors gave him the money they did, giving them perimeter defense where they needed it most last year. The Clippers are living up to their moniker “Lob City” always running the fast break like it is the only offense they have. Griffin has been playing extremely well along with DeAndre Jordan, Jamal Crawford, and J.J. Reddick. So who is going to pull away to get the advantage?
Boils Down To:
Andrew Bogut. I love Andrew Bogut, he is a skilled big man who can play defense. If he could stay healthy for an entire season he has potential to be a top 5 center. But he has just been declared out indefinitely and that a huge blow. As much as people like to give all defensive credit to Iggy, Bogut is just as responsible for the Warriors defensive strength not to mention that averaging 10 RPG and 1.8 blocks is going to be hard to replace with a team like the Clippers who have skilled big men and attack the rim. With out the shot block threat of Bogut, the Clippers can now attack the paint at will, and shooting at 52% from inside the arch is going to give the now smaller Golden State a lot of problems. Not to mention that it would also require Steph Curry to have to shoot his way out games, something that Doc Rivers and Chris Paul will not let him do.
Clippers in 5, 4-1
I believe that the duo of Chris Paul and Griffin will be too much with Bogut not in the paint. Coupled with the fact that Chris Paul is more experienced than Curry and the Clippers having a deeper bench, and you have a recipe for a 5 game series with the Clippers winning it. With that said, the biggest problem the Clippers have is their engagement level. When they are not engaged, they take ill-advised shots and shoot early in the shot clock. This has been much better since Doc Rivers has been at the helm and given his experience do not for see that being an issue but none the less we have seen it at times this season and that could be a problem for them going deep in the playoffs. The Clippers are the team to watch in the West and have serious dark horse potential for reaching the championship game over the Spurs and the Thunder and this series will allow us to see how real this team is about doing just that.
Thanks for reading the Post Up as we will continue with the playoff push looking at teams in the Eastern Conference tomorrow. Don’t forget to like and share, retweet, reblog,print and hand out in public, or what ever form of communication you prefer to use to let people know about the post up. Thanks for reading!
All stat were obtained from NBA Reference .com