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Sunday, 5 May 2013

NBA Play Offs Conference Semi Finals 2013

It has been a tough First Round for a lot of the teams and there have a couple of surprise teams that have made it through to the Conference Semi Finals, mainly the Golden State Warriors who shocked the Denver Nuggets.

However, the main contenders are all in the Semi Finals from the Miami Heat through to the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs, although injuries have certainly changed the landscape in the Western Conference.

While the Heat are still the overwhelming favourites to win the Eastern Conference, the loss of Russell Westbrook looks too tough for the Thunder to overcome, especially in the face of a very tough Semi Final against the Memphis Grizzlies. The new favourites in the Western Conference are the San Antonio Spurs who seem to have a roster full of experience and also one with a lot of depth and shooters that can take games away from opponents.

You can see my picks from the NBA Semi Finals series here

Miami Heat (1) v Chicago Bulls (5)

There is nothing bad you can say about the Chicago Bulls who showed all the guts and heart you would want to see in the Play Offs to knock off the Brooklyn Nets in the First Round, but now the level of competition certainly increases.

Chicago are not scared of playing the Miami Heat and I think the latter will also be relishing going up against a rival that snapped the 27 game winning run in the regular season.

I would be surprised if the Bulls are swept in this series, despite the obvious difference in talent and the fact that Chicago are fighting through injuries and illness at the moment. The Bulls have shown they can compete with the Heat, even without Derrick Rose, but this is the time of the season that Miami tend to go into overdrive.

Miami will not take their eye off the ball with this Chicago team and that focus should see them come through fairly comfortably.

Prediction: Miami Heat in 5 games

New York Knicks (2) v Indiana Pacers (3)

This was the tough series that everyone expected to see in the Semi Finals and both the New York Knicks and the Indiana Pacers have come through tough First Round series to reach here.

The rivalry brings back memories of Reggie Miller and Spike Lee getting into it at Madison Square Garden and this looks like another smash-mouth series that we will be seeing.

New York definitely have the better talent and can get things going a little more consistently offensively, but the Pacers have a solid defense and are going to be tough to score upon. I would be very surprised if this series has a lot of high-scoring games if I am honest.

They were closely matched in the regular season with home court advantage proven to be critical in the regular season as both won their games at home. I think that will be the case in this series too and I think the Miami Heat could be rubbing their hands together as this has all the hallmarks of a physical series that could take a lot out of the team that progresses to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Prediction: New York Knicks in 6 or 7 physical games.

Oklahoma City Thunder (1) v Memphis Grizzlies (5)

The loss of Russell Westbrook has shown that the Oklahoma City Thunder are very much reliant on his athletic ability to make plays and this series could be edged by the lower seeded Memphis Grizzlies.

Memphis will make this physical, but unlike the Clippers in the First Round, Oklahoma City have the size to take care of themselves. I think the match up with Memphis suits the Thunder, although they do need to get some offensive production from someone other than Kevin Durant, particularly in the Fourth Quarter.

The Grizzlies will feel they can get something going as they have won games in this Arena in recent games here, but the match up isn't the greatest for them.

It will be a lot of tough, physical play involved and there is no love lost between the teams, but it is hard to separate them. I just have a sneaky feeling that the Grizzlies are ready to put down a surprise on the Thunder here and physically out match them to take the series.

Prediction: Memphis Grizzlies in 6 tough games.

San Antonio Spurs (2) v Golden State Warriors (6)

The San Antonio Spurs swept the LA Lakers in the First Round and that has enabled them to give sufficient rest to the likes of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, while I think they will be satisfied that they are playing the Golden State Warriors in the Semi Finals.

It was a very good series for the Warrior against the Denver Nuggets to surprise the Number 3 seed in the Western Conference, but the Spurs is a tougher team with a lot of experience.

The regular season saw the teams split four games with all of the wins coming by the home team, but the Spurs are just about as healthy as they have been all season. The experience that the Spurs have should see them back into the Western Conference Finals to get some redemption for last season, but I don't think the Warriors will go away.

However, I do think the added experience and veteran presence in the San Antonio ranks will see them win a game 6 on the road and move through to the Finals in the West.

Prediction: San Antonio Spurs in 6 games.

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