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2014 NBA Playoff Preview

Pete Carges

No Lakers, Celtics or Knicks? No problem! These are not your dad's NBA playoffs. Now, I can't sit here and pretend a Raptors/Nets first round game is more fun to watch than a Blackhawks/Blues 3OT classic, but I can promise you that the crop of teams in this years playoffs will make for some interesting series' and definitely some memorable moments. So push the thoughts of draft picks missed, lottery losses and forgettable seasons to the back of your mind for a few minutes and lock in for my 2014 NBA playoff picks:

Eastern Conference

1-Pacers vs 8-Hawks: Yes the Pacers, NOT the two-time defending champion Heat are the number one seed in the East, and frankly, it's by default. Indiana struggled down the stretch but lucky for them, they get to play the Hawks, who come in to their 7th straight postseason with an unimpressive record of 38-44. Seven straight playoff appearances IS impressive, but the Hawks are always the guy that shows up to the party and leaves by 9:30. This one will be a clean sweep. Indiana wins series 4-0

2-Heat vs 7-Bobcats: It is true, the same Charlotte Bobcats that won 7 games two years ago will be in the playoffs for the second time in franchise history. If that doesn't give hope to Sabres fans, then I'm not sure what does. Charlotte has had a nice season, and will present matchup problems down low with Al Jefferson, but it's playoff time and the Heat seem to always do this weird thing come playoff time. They play well. Miami wins series 4-1

3-Raptors vs 6-Nets:
This seems to be a trendy upset pick and instead of acting like I'm going out on a limb I'm just going to say it. The seeds mean nothing in this series. Toronto has gotten great guard play and surprised a lot of people this year but the Nets have 4 of the top 30 players of the last 5 their starting lineup! These guys have been there before and they'll get the job done again. Toronto still has the one of the coolest mascots in sports but their championship hopes will go the way of the Velociraptor. Extinct. Brooklyn wins series 4-2

4-Bulls vs 5-Wizards: Another newbie to the Playoff party, the Wizards have bounced back this season thanks to the magical (get it, like Wizards?) play of point guard John Wall. However,  Washington is not ready for the defensive storm that Tom Thibodeau and the Bulls are going to bring. If you haven't been paying attention,  Chicago is no longer the pity party for Derrick Rose, but rather have forged their own tenacious identity led by All-Star center Joakim Noah. Washington will be good for years to come, but it's an early exit this year for the team they used to call the Bullets. Chicago wins series 4-2

Western Conference

1-Spurs vs 8-Mavericks:
Ah yes, old reliable, the same core that has won three NBA titles in the past 11 years and was a miracle three pointer away from a 4th last year is back at the top. The Spurs are a machine, they not only have the core, but they have complimentary players and depth that contributes to their success. Dallas is back in the playoffs after a one year hiatus and good for Dirk for carrying this team, but it's 2014, and the Spurs are STILL at the top. San Antonio wins series 4-1

2-Thunder vs 7-Grizzlies: This is going to be a fun one. Memphis charged through the last month of the season to work their way up to the seventh spot. They've been here before and eliminated OKC en route to a Western Conference final run last year. Meanwhile there are still some health questions with the Thunder, specifically regarding point guard Russell Westbrook. I think Oklahoma City will put it together, but Memphis is too tough at home and they'll push them to the brink. Oklahoma City wins series 4-3

3-Clippers vs 6-Warriors: If you haven't watched this Warriors team play, you need to get to a tv immediately. The "Splash Brothers" backcourt of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson can shoot their way out of a locked prison cell at Alcatraz and now that they have bought in to Mark Jackson's defensive scheme, they are a dangerous squad. Unfortunately for Golden State, they are thin up front and injuries to Andrew Bogut and David Lee will make it tough to bang down low with the big boys of Lob City. This one should go back and forth but ultimately Doc Rivers' squad gets over the hump. LA Clippers win series 4-3

4-Rockets vs 5-Trail Blazers: This series had me quite perplexed, a lot of it based on the fact that I don't know a whole lot about this Blazers squad. Terry Stotts has done a great job maximizing talent out of a team that has been down the past few years but their lack of a true superstar will harm them in this series. The Rockets had very high expectations coming into this season and still have aspirations of a championship, but with Patrick Beverly's lack of offense, and Jeremy Lin's lack of defense, the point guard spot is a major concern. I think Houston will survive this round, but a deep run seems highly unlikely. Houston wins series 4-2

Championship Pick:

San Antonio rolls through the west and are pushed to the brink by OKC, but survive. In the East, the Bulls upset Indiana in the second round but run out of gas by the time they get to Miami in the conference finals. And in a rematch of last years NBA finals, the old timers finish the job they started last year, and Tim Duncan rides off into the sunset. San Antonio defeats Miami 4-3