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%
Chicago Bulls logo
Miami Heat logo
4
2
Bulls
Heat
2
4
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.

Miami is heavily favored to return to the Finals, but New York and Indiana are both capable of hanging with James and co. in a seven-game series.

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 Finals: Bulls 7.3% - Heat 75.3%

Average Score: Bulls 94.0 - Heat 101.6

Series MVP: LeBron James - 23.6 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 7.0 APG

WIS Interactive: Simulate Matchup

Houston Rockets logo
Oklahoma City Thunder logo
4
2
Rockets
Thunder
4
3
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.

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 Finals: Rockets 37.7% - Thunder 19.7%

Average Score: Rockets 103.1 - Thunder 99.7

Series MVP: James Harden - 21.2 PPG, 6.3 APG, 4.8 RPG

WIS Interactive: Simulate Matchup

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