Apr 3, 2014; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) drives to the basket against Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) during the third quarterat Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Playoffs: Predicting Conference Finals

Another step closer to crowing our next NBA Champion, the Conference Semifinals wrapped up in last night’s action in the NBA Playoffs.

After blowing out the Indiana Pacers on the road in game five, the Washington Wizards looked like they didn’t even want to show up in game six and their season ended on their home floor. The Oklahoma City Thunder went into their game six match up after a controversial call at the end of game five, left the Los Angeles Clippers, and head coach Doc Rivers, pretty upset. The Clippers dug themselves a hole that they just couldn’t climb out of and seen their season come to an end as well last night.

Now we are in the Conference Finals. If you read the prediction article before the semifinals started, I ended up going 2-2 out of the four match ups. I had the Thunder and Heat winning, however, I thought the Blazers would put up more of a fight and pull off the upset. I also thought the Wizards would pull it off as the Pacers had been struggling. Now as we move to the Conference Finals, the two match ups are pretty hard to decide.

Miami Heat @ Indiana Pacers

This is what the Pacers wanted. They worked all season to ensure that they got home court advantage against the Heat in the playoffs. They got home court, and now got the match up that they wanted.Last year, the Pacers played really well for six games in the Conference Finals, but the Heat blew them out in game seven in Miami.

The Pacers started off the playoffs pretty rocky. Facing an Atlanta Hawks team that went under .500 during the regular season, and having to fight with them for seven games. Nobody looked like they were on the same page. It was a mess. They pulled off the series and moved on to face the Wizards and in the first game, looked like not much had changed. However, they won the next three games and won three of their four on the road to fend off the Wizards.

During the Wizards series, the Pacers looked like they kind of got things together. However, with the way the Heat are playing, they’re going to have to play a lot better than they did in the first two rounds.

The Heat have had a fairly easy road to the Conference Finals. They swept the Charlotte Bobcats in four games in the opening round, then held off the Brooklyn Nets in five games. The Heat usually tend to play at a much higher level during the playoffs than they do in the regular season, and it showed.

Some may complain that during game five, the Nets got a little robbed at the end of the game when LeBron James looked to have fouled the Nets’ Joe Johnson, but the refs called the ball out of bounds instead. Regardless, the Heat still made it look pretty easy.

Now that we’ve reached the match up that everyone was hoping to see, what is going to happen?

As I said, the Heat turn it up in the playoffs. The Pacers fought all year for home court and for this situation. The Pacers haven’t played well at home this off season, but looked better against the Wizards. As poorly as the Pacers have played at home, they turn it up another notch when they face the Heat. This should be a pretty good fight, but the two-time defending champions look to be on a mission, and I don’t think the Pacers will figure it out enough to push them over the hump yet.

Prediction: Heat win series 4-2

Oklahoma City Thunder @ San Antonio Spurs

If you read my prediction article before the Conference Semifinals, I said that whoever came out of the Thunder-Clippers match up would go on and win the NBA Finals. However, did anyone see how the Spurs played against Portland?

The Blazers pulled off a fantastic series win against James Harden and the Houston Rockets in the opening round. However, when matched up against the Spurs, they at times looked like a team that had no business being there. Tony Parker made easy work of Damian Lillard, which is weird to say. Kawhi Leanard played a fantastic series and really, to me, was the difference maker. The Spurs move the ball so beautifully, and it never stops. The way they played in that series, they’re going to be tough to beat. However, Parker left game five in the second quarter due to injury and did not return. After an MRI, he is said to be fine.

The Thunder had an exciting series with the Clippers. There were multiple games where we seen a team down by double digits, and fight back during the fourth quarter to pull off a great comeback. During game six, the Clippers looked like they were trying to do it again, but their comeback came up short as the Thunder were ready to move on.

The dynamic duo of Russell Westbrook and the league MVP, Kevin Durant, was an absolutely fantastic thing to watch. During their series with the Clippers, the two combined to average 61.0 points, 15.5 rebounds, and 14.1 assists per game. The two of them when they are on, are almost impossible to stop.

Parker played fantastic against Lillard, but with the injury that could tamper his play will more than definitely struggle against the more explosive Westbrook. Durant will probably go up against Leanard, which won’t be an easy match up, but Durant tends to always get his points no matter who is guarding him. Another thing to watch is the bigs match up of Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins against Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter. The Thunder’s bigs are great defensively and the Spurs haven’t really ran into this yet.

As tough of a match up as this will be, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is a master at getting his team into the best position to win the game. It is going to be tough, but I think I am going to stick with my earlier prediction here.

Prediction: Thunder win series 4-2

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