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NBA PLAY OFFS 20152015 NBA PLAY OFF’S PREVIEW 

It’s that time of year again where after a grueling 82 game regular season. The NBA’s top 16 teams have fought and jostled their way into their final positions and will now embark on another, post season run, until one team is left standing as the NBA champions.

The regular season has already thrown up a few shocks with the likes of last season’s runner up Miami Heat along with Oklahoma City Thunder and Indiana Pacers who both reached the semi finals last year, all missing out on the play offs this year.

Below is my preview of the 16 teams who made it.

Golden State Warriors – 67-15 – 1st in Western Conference

Golden State Warriors1st Points
1st Field Goals Made
1st Field Goal %
1st Opponents FG %
1st Three Point %
1st Assists
2nd Three Points Made
3rd Blocks

The Warriors finished the regular season with the all time, joint second highest win record in Western Conference. What was scary was the defence was even better than the offence. The question is, now they are officially the No 1 team, can they perform under the pressure of expectations from fans and the media?

Led by Steph Curry (6th for points, 6th for assists, 4th for steals, 3rd for 3 point %, 1st for free throw %) in an impressive MVP calibre year. Along with the likes of Klay Thompson (10th for points, 4th for 3 point %) and superb contributions from Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut, they look a formidable team throughout.

Offensive Rank: 2nd
Defensive Rank: 1st

Atlanta Hawks – 60-22 – 1st in Eastern Conference

Atlanta Hawks.2nd Assists
2nd Three Point %
4th Field Goal %
5th Three Points Made
5th Opponents Points
5th Steals
5th Free Throw %

The Hawks impressed everyone by not only being the top team in the East but being the second ranked team in the league. Their emphasis on team ethics has really paid off and it was no more of a confirmation than seeing four of the starting team represent the Hawks in the all-star game.

You could say Al Horford (6th for field goal %) is the main man who most things revolve around but Korver’s (1st for 3 point %) shooting is a main weapon. They also benefit from the penetration of Jeff Teague (8th for assists) and Denis Schroeder, with Millsap (9th for steals) working off all four men.

Offensive Rank: 6th
Defensive Rank: 8th

Houston Rockets – 56-26 – 2nd in Western Conference

Houston Rockets1st Three Points Made
1st Opponents 3 Point %
3rd Turnovers
3rd Steals
6th Points
6th Offensive Rebounds

With Howard injured for half of the season, I am still scratching my head, wondering just how the injury riddled Rockets managed to finish the season as the second best team in the West. Well I say wondering but it was all down to Harden’s (2nd for points, 9th for assists, 6th for steals) heroics where in many other seasons who would be clear favourite for MVP.

In support, Donatas Motiejunas and Trevor Ariza (7th for steals) have really stepped up to the plate, especially in defence. The Rockets have used the most starting line up combinations due to injuries with the likes of Jason Terry, Josh Smith, Patrick Beverley, Corey Brewer and Terrance Jones all playing important roles.

Offensive Rank: 12th
Defensive Rank: 6th

Los Angeles Clippers – 56-26 – 3rd in Western Conference

LA Clippers2nd Points
2nd Turnovers
2nd Field Goal %
3rd Field Goals Made
3rd Three Points Made
3rd Three Point %
3rd Assists

The Clippers come into the play offs as one of the form teams and have familiarity on their side. Blake Griffin (8th for points), Chris Paul (1st for assists, 5th for steals, 5th for free throw %) and DeAndre Jordan (1st for rebounds, 1st for field goal %, 4th for blocks, 8th rebound %) are a genuine big three. Rumour has it after a few years of perfecting their relationship they feel this could be their year and they are the best equipped they have ever been.

Along with their big three they have the likes of Matt Barnes, JJ Redick (5th for 3 point %, 3rd for free throw %) and Jamal Crawford (4th for free throw %) putting up good numbers for the season.

Offensive Rank: 1st
Defensive Rank: 16th

Memphis Grizzlies – 55-27 – 4th in Western Conference

Grizzlies.2nd Opponents Points
6th Steals
7th Free Throw %
7th Turnovers
10th Free Throws Made

Every time I think about the Grizzlies the words rough, rugged, grit and stifling defense comes to mind. Memphis were one of my dark horses at the beginning of the season and were looking good until niggling injuries and loss of form had them limping to the play offs.

With that being said, they still improved on last seasons record and the defensive combination of Zach Randolph (7th for rebounds) Marc Gasol, Jeff Green, Tony Allen (3rd for steals) Courtney Lee and Mike Conley looked formidable at one stage and the start of the play offs could be just the boost to snap them back into form.

Offensive Rank: 13th
Defensive Rank: 4th

San Antonio Spurs – 55-27 – 5th in Western Conference

San Antonio Spurs ring3rd Field Goal %
4th Field Goals made
4th Free Throw %
4th Opponents Points
5th Assists
6th Three Point %
7th Points

The defending champions inevitably couldn’t quite match the regular season form of last year. They still finished with another impressive winning record and quite typically, they picked the run in to the play offs to hit form, winning 11 of their last 12 games. They also have play off experience throughout the squad.

Kawhi Leonard (1st for steals) proved last season’s heroics was no fluke and has emerged as a game changer. Led by the dazzling skills and big game plays of Tony Parker the evergreen Tim Duncan, Danny Green (7th for 3 point %), Manu Ginobili, Boris Diaw and when fit Tiago Splitter how can you count out the Spurs?

Offensive Rank: 7th
Defensive Rank: 3rd

Cleveland Cavaliers – 53-29 – 2nd in Eastern Conference

Cleveland Cavs4th Three Points Made
5th Three Point %
8th Points
9th Free Throws Made

After an extremely rocky first half of the season, that looked like it was spiraling into glorious disaster. All of a sudden, the big three started to bond and gel and everything seemed right in Cleveland again. Lebron (3rd for points, 7th for assists) is well, Lebron again and Irvin (9th for points, 8th for 3 point %) is looking like that little gem. To add to that, Love is emerging to finally make it a credible three.

The turning point could have been the mid-season acquisition of Mozgov (4th for field goal %) and JR Smith who seems to fit in well with the Cavs. Shawn Marion has also contributed along with Mike Miller, Triston Thompson and Anderson Varejao.

Offensive Rank: 3rd
Defensive Rank: 17th

Portland Trail Blazers – 51-31 – 6th in Western Conference

Portland Trail Blazers1st Free Throw %
1st Defensive Rebounds
2nd Rebounds
6th Three Points Made
6th Opponents 3P %
6th Opponents FG %
9th Points

Portland were another of my dark horses, as I just couldn’t help but to admire their team dynamics. Although they won their division, injuries at the wrong time has really hurt them. Namely Wesley Matthews and Robin Lopez. This severely opened up their defence and put extra pressure on the offence.

With that being said, I am at a loss to find superlatives for the double act of LaMarcus Aldridge (7th for points, 9th for rebounds) and Damian Lillard. They have really carried the team and are unstoppable when on song. Question is can they compensate enough and get Nicolas Batum to fill in enough to make up for injury losses in defence?

Offensive Rank: 8th
Defensive Rank: 10th

Chicago Bulls – 50-32 – 3rd in Eastern Conference

Chicago Bulls3rd Free Throw %
3rd Opponents 3P %
3rd Rebounds
4th Opponents FG %
5th Offensive Rebounds
5th Blocks

With the Bulls I am asking the same question now, that I have asked for the last three season’s. Is, when or will Rose ever be back? I think this must be the last season to genuinely ask that question. What looked good was aside from Rose, the Bulls seem ok on paper but unfortunately never quite clicked. They still managed to win 2 more games then last season and have the third best record in the East.

Rose has still improved but more importantly Mirotic has really impressed as has Gasol (4th for rebounds, 8th for blocks). Though all players have not come together at the same time, they’ve had important contributions from Mike Dunleavy (10th for 3 point %) Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson in what has been a decent regular season.

Offensive Rank: 11th
Defensive Rank: 11th

Dallas Mavericks – 50-32 – 7th in Western Conference

Dallas Mavericks2nd Field Goals made
3rd Points
4th Turnovers
5th Field Goal %

I wasn’t really expecting the Mavs to reach the play offs at the start of the season. But then they acquired Rondo (5th for assists) and their set up with the likes of Monta Eliis (8th for steals), an aging but still effective Nowitzki (8th for free throw %) as well as Chandler Parsons and Tyson Chandler (5th for rebounds, 11th rebound %) looked pretty good.

Though Rondo has not had the impact expected, Dallas were decent in offence and slipped into the play offs in 7th place. With qualifying so low, I am not expecting them to get past the first round but this is the play offs and with such an experienced starting five, anything is possible.

Offensive Rank: 5th
Defensive Rank: 20th

Toronto Raptors – 49-33 – 4th in Eastern Conference

Toronto Raptors2nd Free Throw %
3rd Turnovers
4th Points
4th Free Throws Made

I am still trying to figure out whether the Raptors flattered to deceive or deceived in flattering. First half of the season they looked excellent but it has been a steady, rapid decline since then. In the last stretch of games leading to the play offs, they struggled against all the teams in the play offs.

They could argue that without injuries to the likes of Demar DeRozan and niggles to Kyle Lowry (10th for assists) and Amir Johnson, which put pressure on an already struggling defence, things could have been different. Although the likes Jonas Valentines (2nd for field goal %) Lucas Nogueir (8th rebound %) and Ross Terrance provided good support.

Offensive Rank: 4th
Defensive Rank: 23rd

Washington Wizards – 46-36 – 5th in Eastern Conference

Washington Wizards2nd Opponents FG %
5th Defensive Rebounds
6th Field Goal %
6th Assists

The Wizards are another team that looked promising in the early part of the season, but just couldn’t stand the test of time and basically ran out of steam down the stretch. It still was a successful season in terms of the franchise though. Injuries to the likes of Bradley Beal (9th for 3 point %) and Kris Humphries, did them no favours as well as Nene missing a few. This left John Wall (2nd for assists) to carry the team for much of the season.

The Wizards relied on decent defense and some fast break offence with the experience of Paul Pearce and contributions from Marcin Gortat (3rd for field goal %) Rasual Butler and Otto Porter, who will all be needed if they are to get past the first round.

Offensive Rank: 21st
Defensive Rank: 5th

New Orleans Pelicans – 45-37 – 8th in Western Conference

New Orleans Pelcans1st Blocks
2nd Opponents 3P %
4th Three Point %
6th Turnovers

At the start of the season, I questioned whether Anthony Davis (4th for points, 7th for field goal %, 8th for rebounds, 1st for blocks) alone would be enough to get the Pelicans to the play offs and I was right. Though Davis is becoming one of my favourite players and made massive contributions at both ends of the court, he did get adequate help from the likes of Eric Gordon (2nd for 3 point %).

In addition, Omer Asik (9th rebound %) Tyreke Evans, Quincy Pondexter and Jrue Holiday helped them through on the last day of the season. I don’t expect the Pelicans to get past the first round but for them, just getting to the play offs is an achievement in itself.

Offensive Rank: 9th
Defensive Rank: 22nd

Milwaukee Bucks – 41-41 – 6th in Eastern Conference

Milwaukee Bucks2nd Turnovers
2nd Steals
5th Opponents FG %
8th Opponents Points

Getting to the play offs is a massive achievement for the Bucks, who finished as the leagues worst team last year. This year their defense’s been amazing. They actually had a winning record for part of the season but trading Brandon Knight has proved to be a grave error of judgement. Though getting 2014 rookie of the year Carter Williams (11th for assists) looked a good move at the time.

If you add untimely injuries to Jabari Parker, Jared Dudley and O.J. Mayo, momentum had taken a severe knock. Though John Henson (5th for blocks), Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Zaza Pachulia had done their best to compensate.

Offensive Rank: 26th
Defensive Rank: 2nd

Boston Celtics – 40-42 – 7th in Eastern Conference

Boston Celtics4th Assists
5th Field Goals Made
8th Steals
11th Offensive Rebounds
11th Defensive Rebounds

For me this was another huge surprise and a massive achievement. The Celtics managed to squeeze their way into the play offs. Nothing is expected of them and with that they can play with freedom. Trading Rondo and Green brought in a cacophony of players that somehow, surprisingly have worked.

Numbers and contributions have been shared through the team with the likes of Tyler Zeller (5th for field goal %) Brandon Bass, Avery Bradley, Evan Turner, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Marcus Smart and Isiah Thomas all helping Boston to snatch a play off spot.

Offensive Rank: 18th
Defensive Rank: 12th

Brooklyn Nets – 38-42 – 8th in Eastern Conference

Brooklyn Nets16th Field Goal %
17th Defensive Rebounds

Almost by default, the Nets made it to the post season. This is due to some real poor showings from the likes of the Pacers and the Heat who were the East’s top two last year. Nets made a late charge to make it, thanks in no small part to Brook Lopez (10th for blocks) and Deron Williams.

You can add the likes of Joe Johnson, Bojan Bogdanovic, Thaddeus Young, Jack Jarrett (9th for Free throw %) and Mason Plumlee who got them over the finish line but that’s as far as I will go. The Nets will just bask in a little glory of getting to the play offs as it will be a very short stay.

Offensive Rank: 19th
Defensive Rank: 24th