The best playoffs in a long time
Well, hopefully my prediction comes true, and we may be looking at one of the best playoff performances we've ever seen from the NBA. It may or may not be good for Portland fans, but with that behind us, whoever does win it this season will earn it. No more "repeats" the easy way for the Lakers to take advantage from, hopefully.
Looking at the playoff bracket, the teams I think that will be missing it in the West are Utah, Phoenix, Houston, and everyone lower. So that means the bottom 4 seeds will go to Memphis, Portland, Denver, and New Orleans. Let's take a look at the west.
First, I believed, and continue to believe, that the top 4 teams will stay where they are. Spurs, Mavs, Lakers, and Thunder in that order from 1 to 4.
I originally predicted that Portland would place 5th, and I still think they have a great chance at that, but with the way Denver has been playing, that may be a bit hard. I personally would rather be 5th than 6th, even if we get passed the first round.
If the Blazers placed 5th, they could pull the upset against the Thunder. In fact, I would place money if I had to on the Blazers winning over the Thunder, despite homecourt advantage, and despite them getting interior defense, in which they sacrificed a lot of offense (at least more than what Jeff Green averaged, since now the load goes on Durant and Westbrook even more so).
If Denver placed 6th, which is highly likely, they could be a force to reckon with against the Lakers, and could catch them by surprise. I think they improved by getting rid of Melo, and are with one of the best coaches in the league at team play. They COULD pull an upset over the Lakers. If now, they could wear them down.
If Portland went on to beat the Thunder in 5th place, they could beat the Spurs. They have a 5 game winning streak in the Rose Garden against the San Antonio Spurs. They have won 4 of their last 5 meetings against the San Antonio Spurs. The only problem is this Spurs team is not last seasons Spurs team, in which the Blazers swept the Spurs. That, and that the Spurs would obviously have homecourt advantage.
If the Nuggets beat the Lakers, and the Mavs beat the 7th seeded Hornets or Grizzlies, the Nuggets could go on to beat the Mavericks. The Nuggets beat the Mavs in 2009, convincingly (4-1) without their new additions. I would also probably place money on the Nuggets beating the Mavs if I had to (but I wouldn't against the Lakers, so there is a chance of this not ever happening obviously).
So, imagine that upset. 5th seeded Portland vs 6th seeded Denver in the WCF. Weird upset.
Now let's look at the East.
The Celtics have yet to place a contender after their trade in which they gave up Kendrick Perkins. However, I don't think that will change much. But when we look at the Bulls, who may place 2nd seed (they currently are 2nd seed, by percentage points), they could face the new look Knicks, who could place 5th, 6th, or 7th. If they place 7th, they go against the Bulls. We have yet to see how this Bulls team will do in the playoffs. Are they better than their record? A 7th seed could once again go to the 2nd round.
Now let's look at the Heat, who are obviously in a slump at this moment. If they place 2nd, and Knicks place 7th, the Knicks COULD beat the Heat as well. This also happens if the Heat/Bulls place 3rd, and the Knicks place 6th.
Now let's look at the Magic. Did they make the correct trade to beat the Celtics? They'll likely finish 4th, which means they get the Celtics in the 2nd round.
So imagine that. A 4th seed Magic team vs a 6th/7th seed Knicks team.
If the Knicks did place 6th or 7th, which is highly likely, and did beat the Bulls/Heat in the 1st round, they would get either the Bulls or the Heat in the second round, depending on who they beat in the first.
So, this could be a VERY interesting season in the playoffs. However, my ultimate prediction has changed to Spurs vs Bulls in the NBA Finals.