NBA Playoffs: 2012 Preview and Predictions

2012 NBA PLAYOFFS PREVIEW AND PREDICTIONS

WhatIfSports.com presents its preview of the 2012 NBA Playoffs. Below is the main bracket and round-by-round series breakdown. To the right of the bracket is a table explaining every NBA playoff team's chances of winning each round, including the NBA Finals.

We simulated the entire 2012 NBA playoffs schedule 1,001 times. Home court is taken into account. Average wins and losses per series are indicated in the bracket. To toggle between rounds, click the appropriate link. You can simulate any game in the playoffs yourself using our NBA SimMatchup feature.

1
8
Bulls
76ers
4
3
4
5
Celtics
Hawks
3
4
3
6
Pacers
Magic
4
2
2
7
Heat
Knicks
4
2
1
8
Spurs
Jazz
4
1
4
5
Grizzlies
Clippers
3
4
3
6
Lakers
Nuggets
3
4
2
7
Thunder
Mavericks
4
3
1
5
Bulls
Hawks
4
2
3
2
Pacers
Heat
2
4
1
5
Spurs
Clippers
4
2
6
2
Nuggets
Thunder
3
4
1
2
Bulls
Heat
3
4
1
2
Spurs
Thunder
4
3
2
1
Heat
Spurs
2
4

WINNING PERCENTAGES

Eastern Conference
Seed/Team Round 1 Conf. Semis Conf. Finals NBA Finals
2 Miami
77.5% 60.4% 43.2% 18.4%
1 Chicago
56.3% 39.1% 20.2% 7.1%
8 Philadelphia
43.7% 28.6% 11.7% 3.3%
3 Indiana
84.4% 26.8% 11.4% 2.2%
5 Atlanta
65.2% 23.0% 8.3% 1.8%
7 New York
22.5% 11.4% 4.1% 1.1%
4 Boston
34.8% 9.4% 1.2% 0.1%
6 Orlando
15.6% 1.4% 0.0% 0.0%
Western Conference
Seed/Team Round 1 Conf. Semis Conf. Finals NBA Finals
1 San Antonio
92.5% 74.4% 47.9% 36.2%
2 Oklahoma City
58.3% 39.0% 20.4% 13.4%
6 Denver
59.5% 25.0% 12.4% 6.3%
7 Dallas
41.7% 21.4% 7.6% 4.2%
5 L.A. Clippers
57.1% 15.8% 5.9% 3.0%
3 L.A. Lakers
40.5% 14.7% 4.8% 2.6%
4 Memphis
42.9% 7.3% 1.0% 0.4%
8 Utah
7.5% 2.5% 0.1% 0.0%
Bulls logo
Heat logo
1
2
Bulls
Heat
3
4
Bulls
Record: 50-16
Analysis: The Bulls have again ridden their defense to regular season success. After finishing the 2011 season with a league-best 62-20 record, the team's encore performance has netted a league-best 50-16 mark in 2012. The Bulls held opponents to the lowest scoring output in the NBA, limiting their adversaries to just 88.4 points per game. They also topped the league in total and offensive rebounds. Last year's MVP, Derrick Rose, was limited to 39 games, but appears to be healthy for the playoffs. Fifth-year player C.J. Watson has been a capable substitute in his absence, averaging 11.3 points and 4.6 assists in 25 starts. Newly acquired Richard Hamilton also suffered the injury bug, appearing in only 28 games, but the 34-year-old proved an effective option at shooting guard and is healthy heading into the postseason. All signs point to a playoff run for the Bulls. If the seeds hold true, they will meet the Heat in the Eastern Conference championship for the second year in a row. The two teams split four meetings during the season.

Heat
Record: 46-20
Analysis: After playing second-fiddle to the Mavericks in last year's championship series, Miami is prepared for another run. The cast of characters remains mostly intact, with new additions Shane Battier and Norris Cole joining the rotation. LeBron James appears likely to earn his third MVP trophy when the awards are handed out. Credit his overwhelming efficiency in submitting a stellar season that even the most jaded voters won't be able to ignore. James attempted the fewest three-pointers of his career (2.4 per game), making 36.2 percent, a career-high. As a result, his field goal percentage also climbed to a career-best 53.1 percent. James leads the Heat in points, rebounds, assists and steals. His running mate, Dwyane Wade, has been limited to the fewest minutes of his career (33.2 per game), but has still chipped in 22.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.7 steals per game. If Miami again meets Chicago in the conference finals, they'll concede home court advantage. However, that didn't prove to be a detriment last year when the Heat ousted the Bulls in five games.

Chances of Winning Conference Finals: Bulls 20.2% - Heat 43.2%
Spurs logo
Thunder logo
1
2
Spurs
Thunder
4
3
Spurs
Record: 50-16
Analysis: For seemingly the third straight season, the Spurs geared up for "one last run" at a championship. But these aren't the same Spurs that dominated the last decade, even if the old guard of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker remains intact. Gone is the defense-first philosophy in favor of a style more reminiscent of Mike D'Antoni's Suns squads. The Spurs are second in the NBA in scoring, while ranking only 16th in points allowed. It's hard to argue the success of the new style, as it's enabled the Spurs to capture the No. 1 seed while limiting the minutes of Duncan (career-low 28.2 minutes per game) and Ginobili (23.3 minutes per game). However, a faster pace hasn't traditionally translated to playoff success, as D'Antoni's Suns proved with four playoff appearances in five years without reaching the NBA Finals. Perhaps the Spurs will shorten their bench (12 players average 6.4 or more points per game) and slow their pace during the postseason. After last year's first round loss to the No. 8-seed Grizzlies, they certainly won't be looking past any opponents.

Thunder
Record: 47-19
Analysis: Oklahoma City's methodical ascent to the league's elevated stratum has come to fruition, as the Thunder enter the playoffs as one of the top seeds in the Western Conference. Franchise foundation Kevin Durant submitted his finest overall campaign, sporting career highs in field-goal percentage, rebounds, assists and blocks. Oh, and he also led the league in scoring at 28.0 points per game, good enough for his third straight scoring title. At age 23, the Durantula has already fulfilled his prophecy as savior to the once-beleaguered ball club.

Not that he's alone in this quest. Russell Westbrook continues to develop into one of the Association's elite guards, averaging 23.6 points on the season, although his drop in assists (8.2 mark last season to a 5.5 clip this year) is somewhat disconcerting. Helping Durant and Westbrook light up the scoreboard has been James Harden. The Arizona State product, a shoo-in for Sixth Man of the Year and fresh off a 40-point performance against the Suns, is chipping in 16.8 points a game off the bench. On the defensive end, Serge Ibaka led the NBA in blocks, swatting shots to the tune of 3.7 rejections a contest, while Kendrick Perkins provides an overpowering presence in the post. Perhaps a little green in last year's conference finals, Oklahoma City is more than ready to cast their claim as top dogs in the West.

Chances of Winning Conference Finals: Spurs 47.9 % - Thunder 20.4%

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