NBA Playoff Predictor: Minnesota Timberwolves

Can Kevin Love turn this team into a winner?

 

Full disclose on this one: I’m a Timberwolves fan. That said, this team is an enigma. You don’t know what you’re going to get from one night to the other. Minnesota is the 2nd-highest scoring team in the NBA, but the defense is lacking. They lead the NBA in 20+ point wins, but only recently won their first close (+/- 4 pts) game of the 2013-14 season. If they’re in the Eastern Conference, the Timberwolves are in 3rd place. In the West? Struggling for a playoff spot. Them’s the breaks. The Western Conference is an animal, and being the 8th seed is nothing to be ashamed of. But can Minnesota even get there? Let’s take a look at the stats.

  • 106.5 ppg, 2nd in the NBA
  • 147 blocks, dead last in the NBA by a large margin
  • 3 players averaging over 18 ppg
  • Margin of victory: 4.6, 7th in the NBA
  • Hollinger Playoff Odds: 58.4%

This is one of the most underachieving teams in the NBA, and it’ll be interesting to see if they can find a rhythm in the second half of the season. With wins over teams like the Thunder and Trail Blazers, they’ve proven they can be that team… but then again, they’ve also lost to the Kings and Lakers. There’s no interior defense, but the fast-paced offense led by Spaniard Ricky Rubio might be enough to overcome that. I’ll put Rick Adleman’s team at 50% to make the playoffs, which is actually not bad considering they haven’t made the playoffs in a decade.

NBA Playoff Predictor: New York Knicks

Grover is also disappointed in the Knicks

It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock ‘n roll, New York. The Knicks have tumbled down the Eastern Conference ladder, a year after being the #2 seed going into the playoffs and winning 54 games. The Knicks are now 15-26, sitting in 11th place. A 3-13 start to the season gave the team a bleak vision of the season, and another recent 4-game losing streak isn’t helping. The problem is simple — Carmelo Anthony doesn’t have a good team around him. His contributions are triple that of the 2nd best player on the team according to Win Shares, and he’s having another great season. He averages more rebounds than both the center (Andrea Bargnani) and power forward (Tyson Chandler), is second on the team in assists and has scored over 450 more points than any other Knicks player.  In short, the Knicks can’t wait to get Amare Stoudemire and his $22 million salary of their books and use that money to sign useful players.

  • 8th worst point differential in NBA
  • 6th easiest schedule for rest of the season
  • Lost last 4
  • 1-5 in games decided by 3 points or less (tends to average out through the season)
  • 3rd worst rebounding team in NBA
  • H0llinger playoff odds: 40%

Verdict: The Celtics and Knicks look like they’re racing to see who can miss the playoffs in worse fashion in seems. Even so, the Eastern Conference is woeful as a whole, with only two teams above .500. This gives them a chance to make the NBA playoffs, and a decent one at that. I don’t buy into the 40% given to them by Hollinger’s system, so i’ll go with 30%. 

Don’t Miss a Thing

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Tuesday, 7 PM @ Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK 

KD is a favorite for NBA MVP this season.

Current 2nd and 3rd in the Western Conference, this is an intriguing match up. A win could move someone into 1st place, and the way Kevin Durant has been playing, most bets might be on the Thunder. KD threw up 54 points last week, but LaMarcus Aldridge and Damain Lillard might be even better than the Durant-Westbrook combo.

Montreal Canadiens vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Wednesday, 7 PM @ Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA

Crosby leads the league in points, and it’s not even close

The Penguins sit in 1st place in the Eastern Conference, while the Habs are in fourth. A big win in Pittsburgh could give the Canadiens the confidence they need to start climbing that ladder to secure home ice advantage in the playoffs. Montreal is strong defensively and kill 85.6% of power plays, so Crosby and Malkin will have their hands full.

Australian Open Men’s Single Semifinals
Friday, 2:30 AM @ Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia

Oh, the possibilities.

The Australian Open. While we aren’t quite sure who will be playing in the semifinals quite yet, you can bet it will be at least one of these two legends. All but one of the top eight seeds have made the quarterfinals, and with a Rafa-Roger semifinal possibly looming, it’s worth making up early for (or going to, if you’re lucky enough to live in Australia).

Michigan vs. Michigan State
Saturday, 7 PM @ Breslin Center, East Lansing, MI

No love lost in this matchup

In the only game of the weekend featuring two ranked teams, the #21 Wolverines are looking to knock off #3 Michigan State on their home court. Last year the Spartans demolished their rivals 75-52 at the Breslin Center, but then lost a nail-biter in Ann Arbor 58-57.

San Antonio Spurs vs. Miami Heat
Sunday, 1 PM @ American Airlines Arena, Miami FL

The shot that cost the Spurs their 5th title

The Spurs lost a heartbreaking 2013 NBA Finals to the Heat, and this will be the first time the two meet since Game 7.  San Antonio is in first place once again, while the Heat trail only the Pacers in the East. You can bet the American Airlines Arena will be packed to capacity, and the Spurs would love nothing more than to silence the Miami fans.

NBA Playoff Predictor: Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn made the biggest moves of the offseason prior to the 2013-14 Season, and while they stumbled out of the blocks, it’s looking like the team might finally be gelling under head coach Jason Kidd. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry were acquired in a trade with the Celtics, while Andrei Kirilenko was picked up as a free agent after opting out of the rest of his contract in Minnesota. The most productive player this season was one that was already on the Brooklyn roster in Brook Lopez, but the big man is out for the rest of the season after foot surgery.

Right now the Nets sit in the 8th and final spot in the Eastern Conference. The 16-22 record is bad no doubt, but here are a few reasons I believe they’ll be trending upwards in the second half of the season:

  • Played the 8th toughest schedule in NBA so far
  • 2nd easiest schedule for rest of the season
  • Won 6 of their last 7
  • 21st in point per game, will definitely improve
  • 16th in points allowed
  • H0llinger playoff odds: 74.3%

In this instance, I have to completely agree with the Hollinger odds. The Nets have nowhere to go but up at the Barclays Center, even with the loss of Lopez. Garnett has been a complete disappointment and many have questioned Jason Kidd’s methods, but this team does have the talent to make the playoffs and maybe even upset anyone but the Heat and Pacers in the first round. I’ll give the Nets a 75% chance to make the playoffs.

NBA Playoff Predictor: Boston Celtics

We’re about halfway through the NBA season, and there have been surprises for the good (Trail Blazers) and the bad (Nets). I’m going to take a look at the playoff chances for each team in the NBA that has a decent opportunity, starting with the Eastern Conference. I’ll be giving each team a percentage on what we think their chances are at this point of the season, and undoubtedly, at least one team will make me look stupid.

Boston Celtics

The Celtics are 14-26 at this point, and it’s pretty much gone as expected thus far. They traded Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn and lost Doc Rivers to the Clippers. Brad Stevens has the reins now, but he’s had to do so without Rajon Rondo. The team leader will be coming back into the starting lineup on Friday, and could make all the difference in this team that sorely needs a semblance of leadership on the court.

*Statistical Showdown*

  • 4-10 vs. teams .500 and above
  • 26th in PPG
  • 10th in points allowed
  • 2-8 in last 10 games
  • Kris Humphries is best player by Win Shares, at .171 per 48 min.
  • Hollinger playoff odds: 23.9%

Verdict: I think the Celtics are better than their record, and should be getting out of this rut they’ve been in when Rondo returns on Friday. They’ll want to find a way to get both Rondo and Avery Bradley plenty of minutes. They’re better than a few of the teams ahead of them in the East and have the fifth easiest remaining schedule in the NBA. I’ll put them at a 40% chance to make the playoffs in an extremely weak Eastern Conference.