One thing I’ve noticed about the sports prediction game: Pundits almost never go back and look at their preview columns to review what they got right and what they got wrong. Well, we here in the Brooklyn Basement are big proponents of accountability, so now that the NBA Playoffs are over, I thought I’d take a quick look back at my prediction column, as well as toss in a few thoughts on what transpired over the last two months.
Prediction: Miami over Milwaukee 4-0.
Result: Miami over Milwaukee 4-0. This was obvious.
Prediction: New York over Boston 4-2.
Result: New York over Boston 4-2. The result was what I predicted, but it didn’t happen in the way I expected, with the Celtics going down 3-0 before rallying to push the Knicks to 6, smothering New York’s offense in a foreshadowing of what was to come for the Knicks against Indiana.
Prediction: Indiana over Atlanta 4-2.
Result: Prediction: Indiana over Atlanta 4-2. And, as predicted, I didn’t watch a minute of it.
Brooklyn over Chicago 4-3.
Result: Chicago over Brooklyn 4-3. Look, how was I supposed to know that the Nets would pull a gutless no-show and get blown out in a home Game 7?
Prediction: Miami over Brooklyn 4-0.
Result: Miami over Chicago 4-1. Well, the Nets won exactly as many second round games as I predicted … Chicago showed a lot of heart in these playoffs, especially Joakim Noah, who played like a man possessed despite a foot injury. I’m very curious to see how this team does when they get Derrick Rose back next year.
Prediction: New York over Indiana 4-3.
Result: Indiana over New York 4-2. Indiana was better than I thought. And the Knicks … I mean, their offense just self-destructed. It’ll be interesting to see if they bring J.R. Smith back. I have to admit, I think the team as currently constructed, with Melo as the centerpiece, has probably hit its ceiling; at best, they’re the fourth-best team in the Eastern Conference, behind Miami, Indiana, and Chicago, and that’s not changing unless they make some big moves–which they can’t do because they’re capped-out and no one will take Amare’s contract. (Fun fact: Melo finished fifth in the playoffs in FG attempts. The four guys ahead of him–LeBron, Parker, Duncan, and Wade–all played at least 9 more games than he did.)
Prediction: Miami over New York 4-2.
Result: Miami over Indiana 4-3. A gutty effort by the Pacers, who pushed Miami to the brink and had a legitimate shot to win this series. If the Pacers can add some depth (or even if Danny Granger is willing to accept a role-change to bench scorer) next year, they’re a legit finals contender next year. Paul George and Roy Hibbert are both great, and only going to get better.
Prediction: OKC over Houston 4-0
Result: OKC over Houston 4-2. This is where things get screwed up, because stupid fucking Patrick Beverley had to go and tear Russell Westbrook’s meniscus, crippling the Thunder’s title hopes. That James Harden trade keeps looking better and better, doesn’t it? Sorry, OKC fans.
Prediction: San Antonio over LA Lakers 4-1
Result: San Antonio over LA Lakers 4-0. And it wasn’t even that close.
Prediction: Denver over Golden State 4-1
Result: Golden State over Denver 4-2. I’ve already covered this in-depth here, but in brief, I’ll just say that I’ve never been happier to be wrong. Thanks to Bogut, Barnes, and the Splash Brothers for giving the Bay Area a couple weeks of hoops bliss.
Prediction: LA Clipper over Memphis 4-3.
Result: Memphis over LA Clipper 4-2. I thought this series could go either way. Blake Griffin getting hurt had a big impact, but Memphis turned out to be the stronger team anyway. It’ll be interesting to see where these teams go next year; both will be getting new coaches, and have potential for major roster changes (Memphis could lose Tony Allen, and the Clippers could go anywhere from losing Chris Paul–and thus losing their contender status–to keeping CP3 and adding Dwight Howard, or getting some combination of KG, Paul Pierce, and Doc Rivers from the Celtics).
Prediction: OKC over LA Clippers 4-1
Result: Memphis over OKC 4-1. Durant couldn’t do it by himself. I think OKC could have beaten Memphis with Westbrook–and man, that would have been a great series–but without him they had no shot against the tough-as-nails Grizzlies.
Prediction: San Antonio over Denver 4-2.
Result: San Antonio over Golden State 4-2. I covered this one here. Not a surprising result, but I’m still pouting about the Dubs blowing a big lead in Game 1. If they hold on in that one … le sigh.
Prediction: OKC over San Antonio 4-2.
Result: San Antonio over Memphis 4-0. Before this series started, I picked Memphis in 6, so I was wrong twice! It turned out the veteran Spurs had one more run in them–though again, the Westbrook injury profoundly altered the landscape of the Western Conference.
Prediction: Miami over OKC 4-2.
Result: Miami over San Antonio 4-3. Wow. More on this below.
On the whole, my predictions weren’t too far off, given that there was no way I could have accounted for one of the ten best players in the league getting hurt in his second playoff game (the second straight year a round one injury devastated a contender, with D-Rose’s injury killing the Bulls in 2012). I underestimated the Spurs, who would have won the title if they’d hit a couple more free throws in the waning moments of Game 6 of the Finals, and I underrated both the Pacers and the Dubs, largely because I didn’t realize Paul George and Steph Curry (whose shooting was so hot I started calling him “Ghost Pepper”) had both made the superstar leap.
Before Game 6 of the Finals, the Dubs’ run was really the only thing I found particularly interesting about these playoffs. Of course, Game 6 was one of the more memorable Finals games of this century, featuring a turn-back-the-clock Tim Duncan 25-point first half, a fourth quarter comeback led by the headband-less LeBron James, a seemingly impossible clutch three by Tony Parker, a couple of questionable decisions by the usually unassailable Gregg Popovich, a Jesus Shuttlesworth season-saving three with five seconds left, and a couple of Chris Bosh blocks to seal the game in overtime. What a game. I’m winded just from typing all that.
The two teams went on to play a Game 7, and while my buddy Juan was right about the Spurs needing to close it out in 6, the final game of the season turned out to be a classic as well: It stayed close until the final minute, with Miami needing A-games from James (37 point, 12 boards, and terrifyingly furious effort every moment he was on the court–in other words, everything we ever wanted from him) and Wade (23 and 10) and a surprise barrage of Shane Battier threes to overcome a gutty Spurs team that refused to give in. In the final minute it came down to Duncan missing a shot in the lane over Battier, LeBron knocking down an open jumper, and Manu Ginobili, in a strangely fitting coup de grace for his career, committing a stupid turnover. Great game. Great series. Great season. Thank you, basketball.