Czar’s Playoff Preview


Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images)


I’m not sure there’s been a conference number one seed that’s slipped so far in hoopheads’ expectations as this Pacers team. After stumbling to the finish line, many fear their slump will continue into the postseason. But do the 38-44 Hawks have enough talent to best this Indiana roster even if the Pacers play subpar basketball?



The Bobcats finished with the second-best record in franchise history. But they haven’t beat the three-peat seeking Heat since LeBron moved to Miami. Will Charlotte’s post-monster Al Jefferson overmatch Miami’s bigs down low and force them to alter their lock-down defense? Will D. Wade’s knees hold up in his fourth run at the Finals with the new Big 3?


Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images#6 BROOKLYN NETS VS. #3 TORONTO RAPTORS

Do the young and playoff-inexperienced Toronto squad have the savvy to upend the veteran Brooklyn side? Has first-year coach Jason Kidd’s team gelled enough to make a deep run in the Eastern Conference? This first-round series could boil down to the backcourt battle between Williams/Livingston vs. DeRozan/Lowry.



The upstart Wizards team is looking to win their first playoff series in 9 years. After losing Derrick Rose (again) for the year and trading away the versatile Luol Deng, can coach Thibodeau’s defensive schemes slow down the explosive backcourt of Wall and Beal?


 Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images-19APR2014WESTERN CONFERENCE ROUND 1



Is there any fathomable scenario in which Dirk & friends take down this machine-like, multi-style Spurs team? Outside of Duncan, Parker and Ginobili, who in the Black & Silver will step up big for coach Pop this postseason?



Soon-to-be named 2014 NBA MVP Kevin Durant will try to avenge last year’s 4-1 playoff loss to the Griz. Can Memphis’ experienced and rugged core group slow down PG Westbrook and thus the Thunder offense?


Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images#6 GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS VS. #3 LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS

The league’s most lethal shooter aka Steph Curry will try to bomb the Warriors past their in-state rivals. Will MVP-candidate Black Griffin silence all the haters on the Dubs?



This will be a matchup of dynamic duos: Harden and Howard vs. Lillard and Aldridge. Which team will perform better at both ends of the court? Will Linsanity get a chance to shine or will Patrick Beverly play the majority of minutes at the 1-guard?

Czar’s Playoff Preview


New York Knicks v Boston Celtics#5 Chicago Bulls vs. #4 Brooklyn Nets

The Nets have qualified for the playoffs during their first year in Brooklyn. How you doin’? Will D-Rose make his return this week? Bulls’ medical staff may be the key to this series for Chicago.

#6 Atlanta Hawks vs. # 3 Indiana Pacers

These evenly matched adversaries split the season series. The Pacers can bring the pain on D and spread you out on O, so the Hawks will need to play a very physical game to improve on last season’s first-round elimination.

#7 Boston Celtics vs. #2 New York Knicks

The first step in New York’s quest to end their 40-year championship drought begins on Saturday in Manhattan against a historic foe, Boston. This postseason will be the last gasp for the aging Green group assembled to win the 2008 title five years ago.

#8 Milwaukee Bucks vs. #1 Miami Heat

The Bucks were six games under .500 and made the playoffs in the lesser East. The Heat were six games from tying the 1996 Bulls for all-time wins, and they’re rolling into the playoffs on an 8-game W streak. Do the math.


Los Angeles Clippers v Memphis Grizzlies#5 Memphis Grizzlies vs. #4 Los Angeles Clippers

The 56-26 Griz take on the 56-26 Cips in a rematch of last year’s first round 7-gamer. Both teams are better this season, so expect an intense series.

#6 Golden State Warriors vs. #3 Denver Nuggets

This best Nuggets team in eons is fast-paced and unbeatable in Denver (38-3). However losing Gallinari to a torn ACL was a huge blow. The Warriors backcourt can keep them in games with their historic 3-point production.

#7 Los Angeles Lakers vs. #2 San Antonio Spurs

The Lakers scrapped (both among themselves and their opponents) this spring to make the playoffs after a declaration of dominance in the preseason. The Spurs channel will likely cancel this Kobe-less soap opera, but the series should be entertaining.

#8 Houston Rockets vs. #1 Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder want to make it back to the finals after a trial run against LeBron and friends last year. However, the key to the championship trophy for OKC may be wearing a Houston uniform in this series. Jettisoned Rocket James Harden will be out to upset his former team.