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The 2021 NBA Playoff Predictions – Conference Semis

It was hard to find an image about the NBA Playoffs to use here which didn’t feature a picture of LeBron James, so may as well show all the Lakers Gone Fishin’. Is Kareem better at catching fish or catching a basketball? And who is more Worthy, actual Worthy or that inflatable crocodile looking thing on the top deck?

Only the one upset again, with the 5th seed Hawks making it through. Ash and I are leading the way thanks to our lone picks of Phoenix and Denver.

David Ashman, Jesse Cotton: 18
Dan Kelly: 16

Troy Goostrey: 15
Jarrod Cotton: 11

Dan is that you with the Lakers towel around your neck next to your good mates Rambis and Smrek? I know you’ve been away, you didn’t mention anything about a fishing charter.

Western Conference

1 Utah Jazz v 4 Los Angeles Clippers

Troy Goostrey: Most would have had the Jazz as a 4 seed and Clips as the 1 if this were a preseason prediction.  But the Jazz have been great all season, even surviving some injury stretches to claim top spot.  They looked solid against the young Grizz but these Clips will be a much different test.

Kawhi took over late against Dallas to ensure the Clippers made it out of the first round.  And as great as Luka was in nearly sending them home, the Jazz are a more rounded machine.  I do have some concerns about the Jazz wings on Leonard and PG over the 7 games.  But it’s evened out by wondering how the Clippers can close out to all the Jazz shooters.

I’m going to stay with the season form guide here, Jazz have too much shooting and less clashes of personalities.  Jazz in 6

David Ashman: The Jazz have been great this year and they deserve a spot in the conference finals. The Clippers are all about Kawhi. If Kawhi goes well then Clippers go well. So all the Jazz need to do is shut The Claw down (with two or three guys on him) and George, Morris and crew will be left flexing instead of scoring. Jazz in another 7 game series.

Dan Kelly: I do not like Clippers. Jazz in 6

Jarrod Cotton: 90’s Bulls (light) vs Naughties Magic 
I love Utah’s team game but Golden State are the only team to have ultimate success with the 3 ball that why I’ll have to pick the Clippers in 6

Jesse Cotton: The Clippers barely got past the team they wanted to play, which was really a one man show. The Jazz, after sitting Mitchell for game 1 have reeled off 4 straight, and just look like they want it more. Cigars at the ready, giddy up cowboy. Jazz in 6

“Yo Clippers man, that’s cool” – Randy Foye
“Watch out for the hitman” – Mo Williams

2 Phoenix Suns v 3 Denver Nuggets

Troy Goostrey: Still hard to believe the Suns are a 2 seed!  Led by CP3 and Booker, then up and coming Ayton improving with each series, here he will have his biggest test yet – up to 7 games with MVP Jokic.  This will give us a really good view to where he’s at in his career.  Jokic will have some big games, that is given.  Let’s see how Ayton handles them – drop his head and go into his shell, the Sun’s will be toast.  Hang tough and make Jokic work in D, they push on.

For the Nuggets, again missing Murray will hurt.  They covered the loss against Portland and again face an imposing backcourt.  CP3 is crafty and might just make them play more as a team than Lillard did individually.

Tough series to split here.  I think CP3 and the Suns can sneak through though, but it’s a coin toss.  Suns in 7

David Ashman: The Nuggets have done well to get to this point and are facing an offensive juggernaut in the Suns led by Mr Booker. I’ll have to put my money on the Suns as the Nuggets should run out of steam. Unless the Joker pulls out another MVP type performance and sends his Nugs through to the conference finals. Suns in 7

Dan Kelly: This is a toss of the coin. If CP3 can remain fit for the series I could easily see this going in Suns favour. Nuggets in 7

Jarrod Cotton: Guards vs Bigs
MVP Jokic will be all and then some for Phoenix to handle inside but Ayton might counter act that slightly. Advantage goes to the Suns when it comes to the guards especially without Murray. Suns in 7

Jesse Cotton: Denver, the only conference finalist from last year to make it out of the first round. Does that mean anything? Probably not. The backcourt for the Nuggets still looks sub-sub-par, but that didn’t seem to matter against Dame and CJ. I get the feeling that CP3 and Booker might be a different story. The Suns seem locked in and will be full of confidence. The Nuggets still have the soon-to-be-named MVP and the best logo, but game 7 in Phoenix will be a fridge too far. Even for Oliver Miller. Suns in 7

“Here comes the Suns. Doo do do do” – Antonio McDyess

Eastern Conference

1 Philadelphia 76ers v 5 Atlanta Hawks

Troy Goostrey: Ben Simmons at C.  Interesting.  Worked ok against Gafford, Len, and Lopez.  Although Capela isn’t a household name C, he’s waaay better than those 3.  Philly also went 10-11 during the season when Embiid missed games.  Less than 50%, so maths says they are a chance to drop this series given the Embiid meniscus tear.However it is said to be minor.  How minor?  Regular season type minor or AD minor – and we saw how that just ended.  Philly also has Danny Green and Matisse Thybulle to throw at Young – albeit he still averaged 39 and 8 against them in the regular season.  And if the series starts to look a bit shaky, Philly puts Embiid out there and perhaps just his presence alters the minds and play of the Hawks.

So here how I think it plays out.  Embiid misses the first 3.  Hawks get the split in Philly and take game 3 at home in Atlanta.  Philly are forced to fire up Joel for G4 and tie the series again.  He’s also around in a fifth game home win to the Sixers who move within a win of the Conference finals.  Young puts the Hawks on his young shoulders in a game 6 leveller, but Philly closes it out at home in Game 7.  Sixers in 7 (Confidence: about as high as the likelihood of being served craft beer at the Skeffington Bar)

David Ashman: The Hawks have been a revelation and led by Trae Young, they can go all the way to the conference finals. If Embiid plays, the 76ers will be too strong in the paint for Joan Collins and the Hawks inside players. But it will be a tough fought series showing the East is alive and well. Sixers in 7

Dan Kelly: I am sticking with Hawks for Jesse. Hawks in 6

Jarrod Cotton: Modern vs Throwback 
Ice Trae will cool off care of Simmons and Thybulle. Embiid will heat up care of Collins and Capela. Sixers in 5

Jesse Cotton: Philly, Brooklyn, Milwaukee, and…Atlanta? One of these things are definitely not like the others! Embiid or no Embiid, that is the question. And with his history you’d have to lean towards Philly needing to play without him for most if not all of the series, giving Atlanta an actual chance here. But only either a slim chance (Nate McMillan the player) or a fat chance (Nate McMillan the coach), which for some reason mean the same thing. Sixers in 6

“I’m named after a character in the US version of The Office” – Dwight Howard
“YOU are?” – Mike Scott
“Mumble mumble” – Moses Malone

2 Brooklyn Nets v 3 Milwaukee Bucks

Troy Goostrey: Ok so I picked the first round Bucks series to be Epic.  That was off the mark.  So I’ll try again here.  This one really should be an awesome series to watch.  Brooklyn with all the firepower and gun support cast, versus the never-quite-built-for-playoffs Bucks.

Brooklyn are what they are.  Built to win now.  Putting up other worldly shooting percentages while choosing to play D maybe every 6 or 7 possessions in 10.  It’s been enough to dispatch the Injured Celtics.  The Bucks with Giannis, Middleton and Holiday will be a different opponent.  Fired up for revenge on a couple of failed playoff appearances, with their new point man to control the strings.

Still for mine the depth on that Nets squad is just too great to pass up.  Given the core missed so many games during the regular season, and it took a 50 piece from Tatum to just sneak one game from them, they really are scary-good.  I think there will be enough lapses on D plus enough talent on the Bucks roster to grab 2 wins here.  But ultimately the Nets advance –  Brooklyn is the new king of New York City, Knickerbockers are who??  Never heard of them!  Nets in 6  (Confidence: about as strong as a 90s Pacers team being down 6 vs those Knicks at MSG with 18.7 secs remaining…)  

David Ashman: This will hopefully be a tight and tough fought series. The Bucks have all the tools and the Nets have lots of individual talent. Hopefully this is where teamwork will prevail and the Bucks will move to the conference finals with some hard played defence. Bucks in 7

Dan Kelly: Durant is going to be Durant and he has some decent role players to help. Hope I am wrong. Nets in 5

Jarrod Cotton: Good vs Evil
Milwaukee has the superior defence but Brooklyn can score at will. KD probably has been taking names ever since his Warriors exit. Unfortunately Nets in 6

Jesse Cotton: I don’t mind this matchup for the Bucks. Giannis to defend KD, Jrue to defend Kyrie, and let Harden and his long resume of playoff no-shows try to beat you.

I’ve said since the start of the season that the Nets remind me of last season’s Clippers. A super team put together who thought they could just coast through the season and turn it on when they need to, like they were already the defending champs. The “we haven’t played together enough” excuses are all ready to go once they lose game 7 at home. Bucks in 7

“I’m Jenny from the block” – Brook Lopez
“You used to be. Now you’re only Jenny from the 3 point line” – Richard Jefferson

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