NBA Playoff Predictions 2014

2014 NBA PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS AND PREVIEW

WhatIfSports.com presents the 2014 NBA Playoff Predictions and Preview. After accurately picking a Heat over Spurs championship a season ago, we are attempting to repeat out prediction success. We simulated the entire schedule of the 2014 NBA Playoffs 1,001 times, taking into account home court advantage and the statistical makeup of each team. The simulation generated each team's round-by-round probability of advancing, available in the table to the right of the bracket.

Simulate any playoff game yourself using our free NBA SimMatchup feature.

Round 1
Conf. Semis
Conf. Finals
NBA Finals
1
8
Pacers
Hawks
4
2
4
5
Bulls
Wizards
4
3
3
6
Raptors
Nets
2
4
2
7
Heat
Bobcats
4
1
1
8
Spurs
Mavericks
4
2
4
5
Rockets
Trail Blazers
4
2
3
6
Clippers
Warriors
4
2
2
7
Thunder
Grizzlies
4
2
1
4
Pacers
Bulls
3
4
6
2
Nets
Heat
2
4
1
4
Spurs
Rockets
3
4
3
2
Clippers
Thunder
3
4
4
2
Bulls
Heat
2
4
4
2
Rockets
Thunder
4
3
2
4
Heat
Rockets
4
3

WINNING PERCENTAGES

Eastern Conference
Seed/Team Round 1 Conf. Semis Conf. Finals NBA Finals
2 Miami
96.4% 82.8% 75.3% 45.2%
6 Brooklyn
69.4% 13.1% 7.8% 1.5%
4 Chicago
51.1% 34.1% 7.3% 1.3%
1 Indiana
69.5% 25.3% 2.8% 0.6%
5 Washington
48.9% 32.0% 4.2% 0.3%
3 Toronto
30.6% 3.6% 2.1% 0.3%
8 Atlanta
30.5% 8.7% 0.4% 0.0%
7 Charlotte
3.6% 0.5% 0.1% 0.0%
Western Conference
Seed/Team Round 1 Conf. Semis Conf. Finals NBA Finals
4 Houston
88.8% 54.2% 37.7% 21.6%
1 San Antonio
72.2% 36.2% 22.4% 13.3%
2 Oklahoma City
82.3% 49.2% 19.7% 8.2%
3 L.A. Clippers
79.7% 40.1% 14.9% 6.4%
8 Dallas
27.8% 7.4% 3.0% 1.2%
5 Portland
11.2% 2.2% 0.6% 0.2%
6 Golden State
20.3% 6.5% 1.2% 0.0%
7 Memphis
17.7% 4.3% 0.6% 0.0%
Indiana Pacers logo
Chicago Bulls logo
1
4
Pacers
Bulls
3
4
Pacers
Record: 56-26
Analysis: Despite capturing the East's No. 1 seed, the Pacers enter the playoffs as a team in need of a reset. After carrying a conference-best 40-12 record into the All-Star break, Indiana has struggled to a 16-14 mark. The rut reached its lowest point on April 9 when, following a 2-7 stretch, coach Frank Vogel opted to rest all of his starters against the lowly Bucks (a game the Pacers naturally won).

While the Pacers have maintained a stellar defense that surrenders 92.3 points per game and holds opponents to 42 percent shooting, the offense has frequently fizzled in the season's second half. Indiana is plagued by an unproductive second unit (28th in bench scoring) even though midseason acquisitions Evan Turner and Andrew Bynum were meant to alleviate those concerns. Turner has averaged 6.8 points in 20 minutes off the bench after scoring 17.4 points in 54 starts for the 76ers. Bynum has made just two appearances but could still be a factor in the playoffs if his knees allow it.

Though the Pacers lack the positive momentum they'd hoped for heading into the playoffs, the goal remains the same: finally break through the Miami Heat and into the NBA Finals.

Bulls
Record: 48-34
Analysis: Just three months ago, the Chicago front office appeared to throw in the towel on the season, trading the versatile Luol Deng to Cleveland for a slew of low-end draft picks, Andrew Bynum (who was promptly waived) and cap space. In theory, this wasn't the worst of decisions. At the time of Deng's departure, the Bulls were just 14-18. Worse, franchise star Derrick Rose succumbed to another catastrophic knee injury, one that would sideline him for the rest of the 2013-14 campaign. With a loaded upcoming draft, building for the future and, for parsimonious owner Jerry Reinsdorf, avoiding the luxury tax - seemed like the right play.

Unfortunately for Reinsdorf, Tom Thibodeau's crew had a different itinerary. Since the Deng trade, the Bulls own a 34-16 record, finishing 4th in the Eastern Conference. Joakim Noah has elevated his game to an All-NBA level, averaging 12.6 points, 11.3 boards and 5.4 assists per contest. D.J. Augustin, picked off the NBA scrapheap following the loss of Rose, has become one of the league's best reclamation stories, leading the Bulls in scoring since the Deng trade. Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler are two of the better defenders in the Association and, despite their rising ages, Mike Dunleavy and Carlos Boozer continue to be offensive threats.

Though they lack the star power of other conference contenders, the Bulls are the opponent no one wants to meet this spring.

Chances of Winning Conference Semi-Finals: Pacers 25.3%- Bulls 34.1%

Average Score: Pacers 92.6- Bulls 93.9

Series MVP: Joakim Noah - 12.2 PPG, 12.2 RPG, 5.4 APG

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Brooklyn Nets logo
Miami Heat logo
6
2
Nets
Heat
2
4
Nets
Record: 44-38
Analysis: It was an inauspicious start for the Jason Kidd Coaching Era in Brooklyn, with the Nets losing 21 of their first 31 contests amid reports of locker room disarray. Coupled with the season-ending loss of Brook Lopez to a foot injury, Brooklyn's playoff chances, even in the downtrodden Eastern Conference, looked bleak.

Since this stumble, Brooklyn has projected the swagger expected from its revamped roster, finishing the season with 34 wins in its final 51 outings. With Deron Williams, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett all missing various amounts of time to ailment or rest, Joe Johnson provided a stable scoring presence for the Nets, averaging 15.8 points per game. Shaun Livingston remained out of the infirmary and proved to be a sound guard in Williams' absence, and midseason acquirement Marcus Thornton has energized a dormant second unit.

The Pacers and Heat have illustrated their vulnerability heading into the playoffs. Don't be surprised if the Nets are able to take down one of these Eastern Conference giants.

Heat
Record: 54-28
Analysis: Miami's attitude toward this past regular season could best be described as "an inconvenience." This was especially true of the team's play since the end of February, as the club is just 13-14 in its last 27 games. The end result is a .659 winning percentage, the Heat's lowest mark in the past four years.

Part of this has to do with the absence of Dwyane Wade, whose quickly-deteriorating body limited him to just 54 games this winter. Chris Bosh didn't pick up the slack in Wade's absence, averaging just 16.2 points (his lowest output since his rookie season) and 6.6 rebounds (lowest in his career), and Miami's bench failed to provide much firepower throughout the year.

Luckily for Miami, the team still employs the services of one LeBron James, who finished behind Kevin Durant as the most efficient player in the league this year. Admittedly not fully engaged throughout the season, look for James to punch it into overdrive in the upcoming weeks. Helping James will be one of the best clutch shooters in league history in Ray Allen, and even a Wade operating at 80 percent will put adversaries on notice. With a sound defense (97.4 points allowed per game, fourth-best) and one of the game's greatest in their corner, the only thing getting in way of another Finals appearance will be the Heat themselves.

Chances of Winning Conference Semi-Finals: Nets 13.1% - Heat 82.8%

Average Score: Nets 97.1 - Heat 104.1

Series MVP: LeBron James - 24.9 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 7.1 APG

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San Antonio Spurs logo
Houston Rockets logo
1
4
Spurs
Rockets
3
4
Spurs
Record: 62-20
Analysis: When the Spurs won the draft lottery and the right to select Tim Duncan in 1997, the franchise began a remarkable streak of good fortune that continues into 2014. In each of Duncan's 17 seasons, the Spurs have qualified for the postseason, never winning fewer than 60 percent of their games. Greg Popovich's job is far from easy though. Aside from Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, Duncan's supporting cast has been a revolving door over the years, requiring Popovich to continually reinvent his team. The latest rendition is built around remarkable distribution of minutes and shots. No Spurs player averages more than 30 minutes per game, a feat that hasn't been accomplished since the NBA-ABA merger. In conjunction with the shared minutes, offensive looks are evenly distributed as well. Nine members of the team average between 16.7 and 8.1 points per game.

At 37 years of age, Duncan continues to fend off decline, making 74 starts and averaging 15.1 points and 9.7 boards per game. Also showing rejuvenation is Ginobili, who struggled mightily during the 2013 NBA Finals. He's bounced back to chip in 12.3 points and a team-second 4.3 assists per game off the bench.

San Antonio is rightly a title favorite, but the West is loaded with teams hoping to knock the Spurs off their perch. Though the going won't be easy, Duncan, Popovich and company are up to the challenge.

Rockets
Record: 54-28
Analysis: It was quite the endeavor for GM Daryl Morey to maneuver the Rockets out of the Yao Ming-Tracy McGrady Era, but all of the GM's draft swaps and cap-friendly signings have finally put the organization in contention for the Larry O'Brien trophy. And I suppose the Thunder's gift of a franchise star for three backups didn't hurt, either.

Unfortunately, the Rockets enter the playoffs under an ominous cloud. Dwight Howard has been dealing with ankle injuries for the past month, and though he will be suiting up for the playoffs, his stamina and durability are in question. Even with Howard, the Rockets have been a mess defensively, allowing 103.1 points per game, 21st in the league.

On the bright side, the team unexpectedly welcomed back scrappy guard Patrick Beverly, who was believed to be lost for the season but returns after an absence of only eight games. James Harden has improved his distribution aptitude while Chandler Parsons and Terrence Jones have proved to be solid contributors. Add it up and the Rockets finish with the second-best offense in the NBA. They aren't firing on all cylinders, but the Rockets still having the ceiling of a championship contender.

Chances of Winning Conference Semi-Finals: Spurs 36.2% - Rockets 54.2%

Average Score: Spurs 100.5 - Rockets 101.4

Series MVP: Dwight Howard - 17.6 PPG, 12.2 RPG, 1.6 BPG

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Los Angeles Clippers logo
Oklahoma City Thunder logo
3
2
Clippers
Thunder
3
4
Clippers
Record: 57-25
Analysis: Most pundits are penciling in a Spurs-Thunder matchup in the Western Conference Finals, but the Clippers are quietly asserting themselves into position to make a deep playoff run. In Doc Rivers' inaugural season in La-La land, the Clippers won a franchise-best 57 wins. Blake Griffin made monumental leaps in development, upping his scoring average by a whopping six points from last season. (Just as entertaining Griffin getting into a shoving match with an opponent seemingly every night.) Though he missed 20 games due to various ailments, Chris Paul turned in another stellar campaign, averaging double-digit assists for the first time since the 2009-10 season. DeAndre Jordan led the league in rebounding with 13.6 boards a game while improving his scoring and rim protection. Combined with the sharpshooting of J.J. Reddick (15.2 points per game), it's easy to see why the Clips enter the spring with a league-best 107.9 points per game.

The Clippers are prone to the occasional defensive lapse, and it will be interesting to see how Rivers distributes playoff minutes among one of the deepest benches in basketball. But if you're looking for a potential NBA champ outside of the Heat-Spurs-Thunder-Pacers quartet, the Clips warrant a look.

Thunder
Record: 59-23
Analysis: After reaching the title game two seasons ago, the Oklahoma City Thunder followed up the performance by capturing the West's No. 1 seed last year. However, any plans of returning to the NBA Finals were derailed by a knee injury to star guard Russell Westbrook, sending the Thunder packing after a second-round loss to the Grizzlies.

Now with the No. 2 seed in hand, the Thunder again have championship aspirations. However, the season hasn't been without its challenges. Westbrook was hampered by injury, missing 27 games from Christmas through the All-Star break. His absence wasn't all bad though, as the Thunder posted a 20-7 record during the stretch and continued the development of backup point guard Reggie Jackson (13.1 points, 4.1 assists per game). It also enabled Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka to further improve. Durant posted career-highs with 32.0 points, 20.8 shot attempts and 5.5 assists per game. He's the runaway favorite to capture his first MVP, an award hoarded by LeBron James in four of the past five seasons. Ibaka, meanwhile, has a burgeoning offensive game. His career-high 15.1 points per outing includes 23 three-pointers on 38.3 percent shooting from behind the arc. With all of the pieces in place, Oklahoma City is a serious threat to emerge out of the West.

Chances of Winning Conference Semi-Finals: Clippers 40.1% - Thunder 49.2%

Average Score: Clippers 100.6 - Thunder 101.3

Series MVP: Kevin Durant - 26.7 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 5.3 APG

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