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NBA AM: 20 Playoff Predictions

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Making predictions always has been an enjoyable go-to practice for media of all sorts, but thanks to social media, which never forgets, accountability is as ubiquitous as it ever has been. Now, if writers make a prediction about something, they had better be right or, at least, publicly apologetic in their wrongness.

Over the course of my career as a writer, I always have fallen squarely into that latter category. Whether journalists admit or not, we’re only right about our opinions around half of the time. Like with everything else in the world, most of what we do is just an educated guess. I consider myself educated when it comes to NBA basketball, but chance and luck and situational happenstance all play in a role in making sure I’m not too right, lest I get a big head and fancying myself some sort of self-proclaimed “Hoopstradamus.”

However, the ill-fated nature of predictions doesn’t make them any less enjoyable for those of us making them or those who point out how wrong those prognosticators are. These are the last few days of the 2016-2017 NBA regular season, and the playoffs are soon to follow. The following are some predictions regarding what’s to come over the course of the next several weeks. Chances are, I’ll be wrong about a good number of these, but social media exists solely to point out when I am. Consider this a preemptive public atonement, and I welcome healthy debate for those that already disagree with me.

So here they are…

20 Predictions For The 2017 NBA postseason:

1. Of the three teams vying for the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, Indiana and Chicago will be the teams to make it in, and Miami will miss out.

2. If Chicago does make it into the playoffs, they will be swept out of the first round.

3. None of the 2-7, 3-6 or 4-5 series in either conference will be sweeps, however (as long as they don’t involve Chicago).

4. The L.A. Clippers will end up with homecourt advantage in their series against the Utah Jazz.

5. Only one “lower” seed will their first-round series, and it will happen in the Eastern Conference.

6. Lance Stephenson is going to be “a thing” at least once in Indiana’s first-round matchup. Whether that’s positive or negative “thing” is yet to be seen, but he’ll steal headlines for at least one news cycle in April.

7. In the first-round matchup between the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder, there will be at least five triple-doubles in the series.

8. Houston is going to win that series in six of fewer games.

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9. Despite that, Russell Westbrook is going to lead the league in points per game and will be second in assists per game in the first round.

10. James Harden, meanwhile, is going to be second in the league in points per game and first in assists per game in the first round.

11. The San Antonio vs. Memphis series is going to be a slog, dragging out to at least six games, at least half of which will result in scores where the winner scores fewer than 100 points.

12. Golden State’s average margin of victory in the first-round will be smaller than their +11.8 season average, but still over +8.

13. Washington will finish with more postseason wins this year than Toronto.

14. One way or another, the Boston Celtics are going to appear in the Eastern Conference Finals this year.

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15. Houston will be in this year’s Western Conference Finals

16. The Cleveland Cavaliers will represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals.

17. The Golden State Warriors will represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals.

18. The Warriors will win their second NBA championship in the last three years.

19. Kevin Durant will be named NBA Finals MVP.

20. But LeBron James will be the one who really deserves it, despite defeat.

If you disagree with any of these predictions or simply want to make some predictions of your own, hit up the comments section below or continue this conversation on Twitter. This has been as especially memorable regular season, and it would be folly to expect anything less entertaining for the playoffs that follow.

Here’s one prediction I’m sure will prove right: We’re all in for quite a show between now and Father’s Day.

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About Joel Brigham

Joel Brigham

Joel Brigham is a senior writer for Basketball Insiders, covering the Central Division and fantasy basketball.