NBA Playoff Preview 2011

2011 NBA PLAYOFFS PREVIEW AND PREDICTIONS

Whatifsports.com presents its 2011 NBA Playoff Preview. Below is the main bracket and round-by-round series breakdown. To the right of the bracket is a table explaining each NBA playoff team's chances of winning each round including the NBA Finals.

We simulated the entire 2011 NBA playoffs 1,001 times. Home court is taken into account. Average wins and losses per series are indicated in the bracket. Because the bracket is simulated as a whole, matchups vary in the conference semifinals, finals and NBA Finals. Average series results are only provided in the first round.

You can simulate any game in the playoffs yourself using our NBA Sim Matchup feature. You can also learn more about our 2011 NBA Playoff Preview.

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

WINNING PERCENTAGES

Eastern Conference
Seed/Team Round 1 Conf. Semis Conf. Finals NBA Finals
1 Chicago
95.2% 61.7% 38.7% 28.3%
2 Miami
90.0% 62.8% 28.1% 16.4%
4 Orlando
98.5% 37.8% 20.9% 11.9%
3 Boston
91.0% 33.4% 12.2% 5.9%
7 Philadelphia
10.0% 2.3% 0.1% 0.0%
8 Indiana
4.8% 0.5% 0.1% 0.0%
6 New York
9.0% 1.5% 0.0% 0.0%
5 Atlanta
1.5% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Western Conference
Seed/Team Round 1 Conf. Semis Conf. Finals NBA Finals
2 Los Angeles
95.6% 66.8% 51.5% 24.6%
3 Dallas
79.4% 28.4% 19.0% 6.3%
1 San Antonio
71.6% 43.1% 14.1% 4.0%
4 Oklahoma City
55.0% 27.2% 7.8% 1.6%
5 Denver
45.0% 20.9% 4.7% 0.9%
6 Portland
20.6% 4.1% 1.6% 0.1%
8 Memphis
28.4% 8.9% 1.1% 0.1%
7 New Orleans
4.4% 0.7% 0.2% 0.0%
Bulls logo
Magic logo
1
4
Bulls
Magic
Bulls
Record: 62-20
Analysis: Although Miami and Boston garnered much of the preseason hype, Chicago entered the season as dark horse Eastern Conference contenders thanks to offseason acquirements of Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer. Yet few would have projected prosperity for Tom Thibodeau's team after significant injuries to Boozer and rebounding wizard Joakim Noah. While Thibodeau's defensive dexterity and Luol Deng's dependability facilitated consistency, Derrick Rose was Chicago's stalwart in the absence of the Bulls' big men. Averaging 25.0 points and 7.7 assists, Rose's offensive imagination is often overlooked due to the team's imposing defense (91.3 points allowed). However, his creativity helped guide the team through a delicate assimilation period, integrating Boozer (17.5 points, 9.6 rebounds), who had missed training camp, and Noah (11.7 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.5 blocks), who had yet to team with a formidable forward in his young career. Besides the fearsome foursome of Rose, Boozer, Noah and Deng, Chicago boasts a potent bench of Taj Gibson (7.1 points, 5.7 rebounds), sharpshooter Korver (8.3 points, 41.5 three-point percentage) and Ronnie Brewer (6.2 points, 1.3 steals). Thibodeau's reps as an assistant in Boston will alleviate any qualms concerning a lack of playoff experience amongst the roster, rendering the Bulls as challengers for the Eastern Conference crown.

Magic
Record: 52-30
Analysis: A new arena wasn't the only change in the Orlando landscape for the '10-11 season. The Vince Carter Experience was mercifully ended, as the decrepit shooting guard was disposed to the desert with Marcin Gortat and Mickael Pietrus, allowing for the return of prodigal son Hedo Turkoglu and shooter Jason Richardson. Curiously, Magic GM Otis Smith wasn't done dealing, sending Rashard Lewis to Washington for Gilbert Arenas. The Turkoglu and Richardson returns have been positive; the advent of Arenas, not so much. Dwight Howard submitted another dominant season with averages of 22.9 points, 14.1 rebounds 2.4 blocks per game, although his childlike behavior clearly wore out its welcome with officials, opponents and the media. Ryan Anderson has been a pleasant surprise for the second unit, pouring in 10.6 points per game, and J.J. Redick is averaging a career-high 10.1 points off the bench. However, Orlando's destiny will be dependent on Jameer Nelson, whose play has been erratic at times. With backups Arenas and Chris Duhon underwhelming at the point, Nelson will have to provide a consistent presence for Orlando to return to the Finals.

Chances of Winning Conference Semi-Finals: Bulls 61.7%- Magic 37.7%
Celtics logo
Heat logo
3
2
Celtics
Heat
Celtics
Record: 56-26
Analysis: The Jamaican bobsled team's limp toward the finish line wasn't as exaggerated as Boston's stagger into spring. Since shipping center Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City, the Celtics stand at a pedestrian 15-12. Imported forward Jeff Green offers versatility and depth at forward, but Perkins' departure left a cavernous void in the post. Worse, general manager Danny Ainge failed to grasp the emotional impact of Perk's exodus. All-Star guard Rajon Rondo, the center's closest friend, spent March mired in a month-long struggle, failing to reach double-digit assists in 10 of 15 games. Despite this late-season collapse, Boston remains a viable candidate to reach their third Finals in four years. Kevin Garnett (14.9 points, 8.9 boards) looks revitalized after dealing with knee issues the past two seasons, and Ray Allen is shooting a career-best 44.4 percent from behind the arc. However, Boston's fate will ultimately lie with the health of Shaquille O'Neal, who's played in just 37 games. If the Big Shamrock is unable to provide enforcement down low, the Celtics will have a short stay in the postseason.

Heat
Record: 58-24
Analysis: Miami's season didn't quite go to script, with the bench decimated by injuries to Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller, leaving the Heat to acquire washed-up vets like Mike Bibby and Erick Dampier to augment their depth. The acclimation process was postponed due to a preseason hamstring issue to Dwyane Wade, equating to a 9-8 start. Rumors of disconnect between LeBron James and coach Erik Spoelstra leaked to the media, reports that James didn't necessarily refute. Losing five of six in January and six of seven in late February/early March heightened the hysteria of dysfunction of the supposed super team. Yet through all the trials and tribulations, the Heat finished the season second in the conference with a 58-24 mark. James turned in another MVP-worthy season with 26.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists, with Wade right behind with a line of 25.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.6 dimes. But as effective as James and Wade have been, Miami's title aspirations will come down to the play of the much-maligned third component of their infamous triad, Chris Bosh. The former Raptor contributed 18.7 points and 8.3 rebounds this season, but will have to intensify his resistance against the rim if the Heat hope to be relevant in June.

Chances of Winning Conference Semi-Finals: Heat 62.7% - Celtics 32.4%
Spurs logo
Thunder logo
1
4
Spurs
Thunder
Spurs
Record: 61-21
Analysis: In what's becoming a preseason ritual, basketball aficionados wrote off the Spurs as contenders for the '10-11 season, citing San Antonio as geriatric and injury-plagued. Yet as April arrived, the Spurs sat atop the Western Conference standings with a 61-21 record. A healthy Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker propelled the Spurs throughout the regular season, as well as the rise of rookie Gary Neal; yet San Antonio's catalyst remains the venerable Tim Duncan. The former Demon Deacon's physical skills are rapidly deteriorating, but the Big Fundamental endures as an elite defensive power thanks to his unparalleled hardwood IQ. Assisting Duncan, Ginobili and Parker has been the downtown deftness of Matt Bonner (45.7 percent from long-range) and Richard Jefferson (44.0 percent from three). George Hill (11.6 points) and DeJuan Blair (8.3 points, 7.0 rebounds) have also excelled in auxiliary roles for San Antonio. However, the Spurs aren't riding a wave of momentum in the playoffs, as Gregg Popovich's squad has lost eight of its last 12 ballgames. Of more concern is the health of Ginobili, who hyperextended his elbow in the season-finale against Phoenix. As disconcerting as both issues appear, the San Antonio Spurs will undoubtedly be a Finals factor once again this spring.

Thunder
Record: 55-27
Analysis: The Thunder transformed from an "embryonic company" to "imminent threat" with the midseason acquisition of Kendrick Perkins in exchange for Jeff Green. The impact of the imposing Perkins may not be transparent in box scores, as the former Celtic is averaging 5.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 0.9 blocks since the trade. However, the presence of Perkins has given Oklahoma City a much-needed toughness and temerity that was clearly absent in last season's playoff defeat at the hands of the Lakers. Additionally, the trade expedited the emergence of Serge Ibaka. The transition from undersized center to power forward has metamorphosed "Air Congo" into a shot-blocking beast, as Ibaka has averaged 12.5 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.6 blocks starting alongside Perkins. Green's departure has likewise allotted time to James Harden, who responded to the increase in minutes by dropping 16.8 points per game in March. Oh, and OKC still employs the services of the league's leading scorer in Kevin Durant (27.7 points, 6.8 rebounds), as well as All-Star Russell Westbrook (21.9 points, 8.2 assists) and defensive stopper Thabo Sefolosha. With the status of Andrew Bynum's knee up in the air, as well as the durability of Manu Ginobili in question, the Thunder may ascend to the Western Conference throne sooner than imagined.

Chances of Winning Conference Semi-Finals: Spurs 43.1 % - Thunder 27.2%
Mavericks logo
Lakers logo
3
2
Mavericks
Lakers
Mavericks
Record: 57-25
Analysis: The cast may be different, but it seems like a case of "Groundhog Day" for a Mavericks franchise that has been ousted in the first-round three of the past four years. Dirk Nowitzki battled through injury to steer Dallas to a 57-25 record, leading the way with 23.0 points and 7.0 rebounds. However, Dirk's significance to Dallas was best illustrated in the Mavericks' 2-7 record when the German was sidelined with a knee issue. Jason Terry continued to be one of the most reliable sixth men in basketball, with the assassin adding 15.8 points off the bench. If Mav fans want to believe this postseason will deviate from the past, they will have to pin their hopes on Tyson Chandler. For the first time in the Nowitzki Era, Dallas has a tenacious rebounder and defender in the frontcourt in Chandler, opening up the floor for Dirk and forward Shawn Marion. But will Chandler's resolve around the rim be enough to overcome the aging bodies of Marion, Jason Kidd and Peja Stojakovic and avoid another premature exit?

Lakers
Record: 57-25
Analysis: The biggest issue for the Lakers this season? Complacency. A quick glance at other back-to-back champions throughout NBA history will illustrate the same sentiment, as the long haul of 82 games can hamper one's desire to compete night-in and night-out. While a question of mental fortitude amongst his team appeared to be Phil Jackson's biggest concern, a recent injury to big man Andrew Bynum has translated to trepidation in Laker Land. Despite their center's susceptibility, Los Angeles remains the favorite in the West. Kobe Bryant doesn't possess his notorious first-step, but the two-time Finals MVP still poured in 25.3 points per game in '10-11, using a well-rounded repertoire of offensive moves to outsmart his opponents. Pau Gasol (18.8 points, 10.2 rebounds) maintains his designation as one of the league's most underrated players, as the adroit seven-footer tends to fall in the shadow of Bryant's personage. And although he's arguably more famous for his exploits off the floor, Lamar Odom (14.4 points, 8.7 rebounds) was a force off the bench and provides Jackson versatility in the post and open court. Aside from Bynum, Derek Fisher could be the team's Achilles' heel, as the elder statesman has been blown away by opposing guards like a paper bag in a hurricane. If the Lakers can provide reinforcement to Fish on defense, expect Los Angeles to be playing in June for the fourth straight season.



Chances of Winning Conference Semi-Finals: Lakers 66.8% - Mavericks 28.4%

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