NBA Playoffs: Clippers take the championship

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Wyatt Huskins, Staff Writer

The time has come. 16 teams face off for the ultimate goal: The NBA Championship. All the blood, sweat and tears of the regular season have paid off for these premier squads, but they’re not done yet. To reach the pinnacle of the NBA, you need the heart, the soul, the fire, the audacity, the talent, and the patience to take it one game at a time.

In the West,  we have a star-studded field of amazing teams that all have a chance for the trophy. At the top are The Golden State Warriors, holding one of the best regular seasons records in NBA history at 67-15, facing the New Orleans Pelicans, a young squad getting their first taste of the playoffs, in a tale of two MVP candidates.The number 2 seed Houston Rockets, led by the dreaded beard, James Harden, another MVP candidate, face off against your hometown Dallas Mavericks and the future hall of famer Dirk Nowitzki.At the third seed, the high flying Los Angeles Clippers take on the ageless San Antonio who are looking to defend their championship.To round out the west, the 3-point shooting Portland Trailblazers go up against arguably one of the best front-courts in the NBA, The Memphis Grizzlies.

Heading east, we start off with the All-star cast of the Atlanta Hawks and the Brooklyn Nets’ poppin’ offense. Next up is the super-team Cleveland Cavaliers with the best player in the world, Lebron James, battling with one of the hottest teams after the All-star break Boston Celtics. The number 3 seed historic franchise Bulls take on the surprise team of the playoffs, the Milwaukee Bucks. The final matchup of the first round is the up-tempoed Washington Wizards taking on the half-court set of the Toronto Raptors. Who will make it to the top? Who will be the next NBA champion? Let me tell you.

The Warriors have a huge advantage against the Pelicans, their team is just too good and overpowering. They’ll take the series in 5, with the Pelicans winning one game. Houston and Dallas face off well against one another, with their own set of skills and super-stars that they use. But I have to go with the top MVP candidate, the beard, James Harden. He is too much of an offensive monster and will take out the Mavericks in 7. One of the most interesting match ups of the first round, “Lob City” will duel the tactics of the Spurs. While the Spurs are the defending champs and have proven to everyone to never count them out, I say the dynasty is over. Tim Duncan has gotten too old to carry his team against the Clippers, who, with a win, could push them all the way to the finals. It will be a hard fought series, but the Clips will grind it out in 7. In what was once a promising matchup the Grizzlies will fight the Trailblazers, but not for long. Portland has been riddled with injuries since the All-star break, especially shooting guard Wesley Matthews with a torn achilles. The Grizzlies, nursing injuries of their own, are too dominant and will get the sweep.

To the east and a rematch of last year, Atlanta and Brooklyn. After a late season surge, the Nets made the playoffs after having a wreck of a season. Their “big stars” haven’t worked out and the team oriented Hawks will handle them in 6. Lebron revisits what he left in 2010, with his return to the Cavaliers and the team that beat him back then, the Celtics. But this is a very young, Celtics team, not the one who defeated James 5 years ago. And with that, he will get his revenge in a sweep of Brad Stevens’ squad. To the surprise of the playoffs we go, as the Bucks take on the Bulls. But there’s not much to talk about Derrick Rose is back in the post-season and he is hungry for a championship. And with Jimmy Butler’s emergence as an all-star as well as the off-season acquisition of Pau Gasol, the Bulls will hand the Bucks a sweep. Finally we have the Wizards and Raptors, the only eastern matchup of interest. This series is so evenly matched, it’s not even funny. With John Wall leading Washington, and Kyle Lowry leading the Raptors it’ll be a fight to the finish. But I have to go with the veteran factor: Paul Pierce. With the championship winning forward leading the way, I say the Wiz will narrowly pass Toronto in 7. And be sure to expect a overtime game or two in that series.

To the second-round we go, with the Warriors facing the Griz. Unfortunately Memphis has been infected with the injury bug as well, with both Mike Conley and Tony Allen struggling to play. If that wasn’t the case, I would say this would be an even series, but now, the Warriors should be able to take them in 6. The Clippers and the Rockets, a familiar matchup. In the regular season, they faced four times, splitting the series, and this time it will be just as evenly matched. But the x-factor is this: The Los Angeles gives “The Beard” fits. Meaning after 7 games, they will oust the Rockets from the playoffs. Now to Atlanta and the Wizards, a matchup for the ages. The emergence of the Hawks as the best team in the East was quite a surprise, and their team style of play will be just enough to edge the Wizards in 7. The Cavaliers and the Bulls, a heated rivalry, not by the teams, but the players, and two in particular: Joakim Noah and Lebron James. They’re not the best of friends and they’re quick to tell you that. Most people would tell you that it’s the Cav’s year, but the Bulls have something they don’t: fire. I say that they take the series in 7 with Lebron having his head in his hands.

The Conference Finals, where only the strongest survive. And in the West we have a division rivalry that reaches the point of hatred, The Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers. I haven’t seen a more gritty matchup than this in a long time, and while the Warriors were the best regular season team this season, I have to go with my gut and take the Clippers. Chris Paul knows that the clock is ticking on his window, and he will be the one to seize the opportunity in front of him after 7 intense games.

The Hawks are a great team, but the Bulls are just a tiny bit better. With a healthy Derrick Rose at point, the Bulls will be too tough to handle for the inexperienced Atlanta team. To the finals, a matchup for the ages and one that will be told for decades to come, the Clippers and the Bulls. Both having amazing, defensive minded coaches, with strong talent to back their styles up. But there is one problem with the Bulls, that holds them down in this series, injuries. Nikola Mirotic was a staple on the Bulls’ bench this season and if he can’t return to provide quality minutes for the team, I say the series barley goes to the Clippers. After being the best point guard in the game for the past six seasons, its Chris Paul’s time to establish his name among the NBA greats that have come before him. After 7 games the Clippers will take home their first championship, with Paul winning finals MVP. And that’s it. After that it goes to the offseason, where we could see the greatest power forward of all time hang up his hat and call it quits. If you disagree with any of what I have predicted here, feel free to leave me something in the comments section, I just ask you to keep it clean. But now it’s time for me to watch a game.