NBA Playoff Predictions 2013

2013 NBA PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS AND PREVIEW

WhatIfSports.com presents the 2013 NBA Playoff Preview and Predictions. The main bracket and round-by-round series breakdowns are below. The table to the right of the bracket displays the likelihood of each team advancing, based on its performance in the simulation.

We simulated the entire schedule of the 2013 NBA Playoffs 1,001 times, taking into account home court advantage and the statistical makeup of each team. To toggle between rounds, click the appropriate link below the bracket. You can simulate any game in the playoffs yourself using our free NBA SimMatchup feature.

Round 1
Conf. Semis
Conf. Finals
NBA Finals
1
8
Heat
Bucks
4
1
4
5
Nets
Bulls
4
2
3
6
Pacers
Hawks
3
4
2
7
Knicks
Celtics
4
2
1
8
Thunder
Rockets
4
2
4
5
Clippers
Grizzlies
4
2
3
6
Nuggets
Warriors
4
2
2
7
Spurs
Lakers
4
2
1
4
Heat
Nets
4
1
6
2
Hawks
Knicks
3
4
1
4
Thunder
Clippers
4
3
3
2
Nuggets
Spurs
2
4
1
2
Heat
Knicks
4
2
1
2
Thunder
Spurs
3
4
1
2
Heat
Spurs
4
3

WINNING PERCENTAGES

Eastern Conference
Seed/Team Round 1 Conf. Semis Conf. Finals NBA Finals
1 Miami
95.2% 90.0% 81.6% 53.4%
2 New York
74.7% 50.2% 9.2% 2.7%
3 Indiana
48.2% 19.0% 2.2% 0.5%
6 Atlanta
51.8% 21.1% 2.0% 0.4%
4 Brooklyn
68.0% 6.4% 2.3% 0.1%
7 Boston
25.3% 9.7% 1.3% 0.1%
8 Milwaukee
4.8% 2.4% 1.1% 0.0%
5 Chicago
32.0% 1.2% 0.3% 0.0%
Western Conference
Seed/Team Round 1 Conf. Semis Conf. Finals NBA Finals
2 San Antonio
91.4% 73.2% 40.8% 19.1%
1 Oklahoma City
75.4% 50.7% 31.7% 17.0%
4 L.A. Clippers
80.7% 35.8% 14.7% 3.6%
3 Denver
80.7% 22.6% 8.6% 2.7%
8 Houston
24.6% 9.8% 3.2% 0.4%
5 Memphis
19.3% 3.7% 0.8% 0.0%
7 L.A. Lakers
8.6% 3.0% 0.2% 0.0%
6 Golden State
19.3% 1.2% 0.1% 0.0%
Miami Heat Logo
Milwaukee Bucks Logo
1
8
Heat
Bucks
4
1
Heat
Record: 66-16
Analysis: The best player in the world continues to improve. LeBron James averaged career-highs in field goal percentage (56.5), three-point percentage (40.6) and rebounds (8.0) in leading the Heat to the NBA's best record and a 12-game lead over the No. 2 seed Knicks in the Eastern Conference. A stretch from February 3 to March 25 defined the Heat's season, as the team rattled off 27 consecutive victories, the second-longest winning streak in league history. Since losing to the Bulls on March 27, Miami has gone 10-1 despite resting their stars for a playoff push.

The team will attempt its title defense with a bench that's a bit more robust than the squad that beat the Thunder in five games in last year's Finals. Among the new faces are Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis and Chris Anderson. Allen, who turns 38 in July, has embraced his new role as sixth man, providing the second unit with perimeter shooting.

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.

Bucks
Record: 38-44
Analysis: Granted, the Bucks are a "playoff team" in the sense that...well, that they're in the playoffs. Yet little else about Milwaukee seems to indicate as much. The Bucks are the only postseason entrant with a negative point differential, and as a corollary, are the only playoff team with a losing record. Head coach Scott Skiles parted ways with the organization in early January, and Brandon Jennings' erraticism has made the upcoming offseason decision to bring back the point guard a tenuous and overhanging proposition.

There are bright spots for fans of the "Fear the Deer" battle cry. Monta Ellis has paired relatively well with Jennings in the Bucks backcourt, averaging 19.2 points per game. Third-year man Larry Sanders is the leading candidate for the Most Improved Player award thanks to 2.8 blocks in just 27 minutes of action per game. Rookie John Henson has shown flashes of brilliance, and J.J. Redick has been effective off the bench since coming from Orlando.

Overthrowing the reigning champs will be an arduous venture, but don't be surprised if the Bucks make this exercise tougher than believed for the Heat.

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Heat 95.2% - Bucks 4.8%

Series MVP: LeBron James - 24.1 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 7.5 APG

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Brooklyn Nets logo
Chicago Bulls logo
4
5
Nets
Bulls
4
2
Nets
Record: 49-33
Analysis: After five consecutive losing seasons, the Nets were a franchise in need of a reset. Several offseason moves, most notably a relocation to Brooklyn, have resulted in a playoff berth. The team started 11-4, but dropped 10 of their next 13 games and fired head coach Avery Johnson. P.J. Carlesimo took the helm and guided the Nets to a 35-19 mark the rest of the way. The team has benefited from a healthy campaign from Brook Lopez, who averaged 19.4 points and 6.9 rebounds per game after playing just five games in 2011-12. While Lopez has underwhelmed as a rebounder, his frontcourt teammate Reggie Evans pulled down 11.1 boards in just 24.6 minutes per contest.

On the perimeter, Joe Johnson's first season in Brooklyn left something to be desired. The shooting guard's 16.3 points per game and 42.3 field goal percentage were his lowest outputs since 2002-03. While an acclimation period is certainly understandable, Johnson's numbers have declined during the season, as he's averaged 14.2 points per game since the All-Star break.

Deron Williams is firmly entrenched as the face of the franchise and his play at point guard will determine how far the Nets can go. On paper, the team appears to be a notch below the conference's elite.

Bulls
Record: 45-37
Analysis: The Little Engine That Could seems like an apropos description of the 2012-13 Chicago Bulls. Despite the absence of former MVP Derrick Rose and various injuries to Joakim Noah, Kirk Hinrich, Taj Gibson and Rip Hamilton, the season has been a triumph in the Windy City. The Bulls are holding adversaries to 92.9 points per game (third-lowest in the league), racked up 45 wins and halted the Heat's 27-game winning streak in one of the more dramatic and memorable regular-season spectacles in NBA history. Given the ominous forecast before the season, one could argue such feats are more than warranting of Coach of the Year honors for Tom Thibodeau.

Even with these accomplishments, Chicago's final prognosis appears unpromising. Noah, the team's defensive stalwart in the paint, continues to be plagued by plantar fasciitis. His fellow bruiser on the boards, Gibson, is playing through knee pain that has sidelined him for a majority of the second half of the year. And though the return of Hamilton's jumper is much needed for a team ailing on offense, integrating the 35-year-old into the team's strategy this late in the calendar is no easy task.

However, with a plethora of unheralded contributors like Hinrich, Marco Belinelli and Jimmy Butler supporting the efforts of Noah, Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer, the Bulls personify the "sum is greater than the parts" dynamic that excels in the NBA Playoffs. Look for Chicago to hold its own against the conference's heavyweights.

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Nets 68.0% - Bulls 32.0%

Series MVP: Brook Lopez - 19.0 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 2.3 BPG

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Indiana Pacers logo
Atlanta Hawks logo
3
6
Pacers
Hawks
3
4
Pacers
Record: 49-32
Analysis: After giving the Heat a run for their money in the 2012 playoffs, the Pacers proved their presence among the Eastern Conference elite was no passing fad. Despite playing all but five games without 2011-12 leading scorer Danny Granger, the Pacers secured the No. 3 seed and avoided a potential playoff rematch with the Heat until the Conference Championship. The meteoric rise of third-year wing Paul George undoubtedly aided the team in Granger's absence. George averaged 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists in an All-Star campaign. However, he stumbled into the postseason, averaging 12.8 points on 32.0 percent shooting in six April games.

David West, fully recuperated from a 2011 knee surgery, returned to form, scoring 17.1 points per game while pulling down 7.7 boards. Roy Hibbert took a step back in the season's early going, as the Pacers' 7'2" center averaged 10.0 points per game on 41.4 percent shooting before the All-Star break. Since the break, he's upped the output to 15.7 points per contest on 50.8 percent shooting.

The Pacers lean on a defense that surrendered the second-fewest points in the league (90.7 points allowed), but the play of George, West and Hibbert will be determine how far the team can advance.

Hawks
Record: 44-38
Analysis: The Hawks are one of five teams that have an active streak of six or more consecutive playoff appearances, joining the Celtics (six appearances), Lakers (eight appearances), Nuggets (10 appearances) and Spurs (16 appearances). Whereas the other four members have totaled 14 trips to the conference finals during their current runs, the Hawks have failed to advance that far. Given the likelihood of a second-round matchup with the Heat, it seems doubtful those fortunes will change in 2013.

In the offseason, the team bid farewell to offensive leader Joe Johnson, who was shipped to the Nets in a cost-saving move. The Hawks were able to achieve similar results without Johnson, as a few players stepped up in his absence. Jeff Teague chipped in 14.6 points and 7.2 assists per game in his second season as the team's starting point guard, while sixth-year center Al Horford's career year included averages of 17.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per game.

The playoff run may be the last time Josh Smith plays in a Hawks uniform. The versatile forward looks to command a large salary in free agency this summer, a price the Hawks may be hesitant to pay to the talented but troubled star.

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Pacers 48.2% - Hawks 51.8%

Series MVP: Al Horford - 16.4 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 3.2 APG

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New York Knicks logo
Boston Celtics logo
2
7
Knicks
Celtics
4
2
Knicks
Record: 54-28
Analysis: The Knicks aren't just an old team; they're the oldest in NBA history. Among the gray hairs are Jason Kidd (age 40), Marcus Camby (age 39), Kenyon Martin (age 35) and rookie Pablo Prigioni (age 35). Two more players, Kurt Thomas (age 40) and Rasheed Wallace (age 38), logged logged time as well but will not be on the playoff roster. Despite all of the geriatrics, the Knicks totaled 54 victories, the franchise's most since a 57-win season in 1996-97.

Carmelo Anthony led the way offensively, averaging an NBA-best 28.7 points per game. He was especially potent at the conclusion of the regular season, averaging 36.9 points per game in the month of April. The other catalyst for the team's success was the emergence of J.R. Smith. The ninth-year player, who averaged a career-high 18.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, is among the favorites to win the Sixth Man of the Year award.

Amar'e Stoudemire's playoff status is uncertain due to a knee injury. For the purpose of the simulation, we included Stoudemire on the Knicks' roster and depth chart. However, the team's success may not depend on his participation, as the Knicks were 15-12 in games in which Stoudemire logged minutes.

Celtics
Record: 41-40
Analysis: This Celtics' season was supposed to center on the stylings of Rajon Rondo. The growing mileage in the odometers of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, coupled with the departure of Ray Allen, gave the mercurial-but-multi-talented guard a platform to assume the franchise's spotlight. Unfortunately, such an ascent never transpired. Though Rondo was leading the league with 11.1 dimes per contest, the Kentucky product looked tentative as the focal point of the offense, correlating to a 20-23 start for Boston. Worse, Rondo suffered a torn ACL in late January, putting the kibosh on the Celtics' hopes for a Finals appearance.

Or so it seemed. Pierce and Garnett have proved there's still some gas left in their collective tanks, while Jeff Green has stepped up the scoring ante with 16.6 points per game since Rondo's injury. Avery Bradley continues to be a pesky disturbance on the defensive end, and Jason Terry, after a tepid start to his Boston digs, appears to be assimilating into the offensive scheme at the right time. Though depth issues may impede their chances at a deep spring run, the Celtics' experience and defensive dexterity (their 44.1 opponent field goal percentage is fourth-best in the conference) makes Boston a formidable foe.

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Knicks 74.7% - Celtics 25.3%

Series MVP: Carmelo Anthony - 25.8 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 2.7 APG

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Oklahoma City Thunder logo
Houston Rockets logo
1
8
Thunder
Rockets
4
2
Thunder
Record: 60-22
Analysis: Add yet another reason to heap praise upon Kevin Durant. By shooting 51.0 percent from the field, 41.6 percent from three-point range and 90.5 percent from the free throw line, all career-highs, Durant became the sixth member of the 50-40-90 club. He joins Larry Bird, Mark Price, Reggie Miller, Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki as the only players to accomplish the feat.

While Durant's incredible efficiency certainly doesn't hurt, it's been a collective effort that has the Thunder poised for a return to the NBA Finals. Serge Ibaka submitted career highs in points (13.2 per game), rebounds (7.7 per game) and field goal percentage (57.3 percent). Russell Westbrook continued his role as distributor and second scoring option, while rebounding at a career rate.

Although Kevin Martin has provided a scoring punch off the bench, he represents a step down from the departed James Harden, who's enjoying a career year with the Rockets. If the Thunder should falter, many will wonder what could have been had the Durant-Westbrook-Harden nucleus stayed intact.

Rockets
Record: 45-37
Analysis: Daryl Morey has long been lauded as one of the NBA's shrewdest GMs, but he pulled off perhaps his biggest heist in acquiring James Harden from the Thunder. Harden made a seamless transition from super-sub to superstar in guiding the Rockets to 45 wins and their first playoff appearance since the 2008-09 season. By averaging 25.9 points and finishing second only to former teammate Kevin Durant in free throws made, Harden served as the focal point of the league's second highest-scoring offense (106.0 points per game).

Harden was joined in the backcourt by another offseason addition, Jeremy Lin, who averaged 13.4 points and 6.0 assists per game as a fulltime starter. Omer Asik proved to be yet another prudent pickup, as the third-year player and first-time starter pulled down the most rebounds in the league (956) and had the third-best average (11.7 rebounds per game).

The obstacle for the new-look Rockets will be a porous defense that surrendered 102.5 points per game, the third-most in the league. Considered a season or two away from contending, the Rockets can speed up the timeline if Harden provides a few virtuoso performances and helps his team outpace the opposition.

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Thunder 75.4% - Rockets 24.6%

Series MVP: Kevin Durant - 23.6 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 4.7 APG

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Los Angeles Clippers logo
Memphis Grizzlies logo
4
5
Clippers
Grizzlies
4
2
Clippers
Record: 56-26
Analysis: The Clippers captured their first Pacific Division title in franchise history this season, riding a 17-game winning streak in December to the top of the standings and never looking back. In Chris Paul, the Clips have one of the paramount guards in the game whose vision and leadership is unparalleled. Few down-low forces have the flying capabilities of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, while Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe highlight a second unit that averages over 40 points per game (fourth-highest in the NBA). And as icing on the cake, the Clips have been able to enjoy the calamitous season of their Los Angeles basketball brethren.

Yet something seems amiss in Clipperland. Though he earned his third consecutive trip to the All-Star Game this winter, Griffin's game seemingly has stagnated, failing to showcase prominent leaps in improvement in his fourth season in the league. There's also been whispers of disconnect between the team and head coach Vinny Del Negro, a sentiment that's evidenced in the team's 24-17 mark down the home stretch after a 32-9 start.

Still, the positives outweigh the negatives for the Clippers. The Los Angeles defense, surrendering just 94.6 points per game (second-lowest in the conference), is an endowment that always translates to success in the spring, making the Clips a menacing opponent in the playoffs.

Grizzlies
Record: 56-26
Analysis: It's not too often that a playoff-caliber team jettisons its leading scorer, but that's what the Grizzlies elected to do when sending wing Rudy Gay to the Raptors in a midseason trade that netted Ed Davis, Austin Daye and Tayshaun Prince in return. Though many around the league believed the Grizzlies were throwing in the towel, their record would indicate otherwise. Prior to the trade, the Grizzlies owned a 29-15 record (65.9 winning percentage). Since the transaction, the team has a 27-11 record (71.1 winning percentage).

The move has allowed the Grizzlies to feature talented post players Marc Gasol, who anchors the league's best defense (89.3 points allowed), and Zach Randolph, the league leader in offensive rebounds (4.1 per game). At the point, Mike Conley is averaging a career-high 14.6 points per game, including 16.7 per game since the All-Star break.

The Grizz will be a feared playoff matchup given their recent success. In 2011, the team knocked off the top-seeded Spurs as the No. 8 seed before falling to the Thunder in seven games. Last year, the Grizzlies took the Clippers to seven games. They'll likely be a handful for the Clippers this year as well, as the two teams prepare for a rematch.

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Clippers 80.7% - Grizzlies 19.3%

Series MVP: Chris Paul - 14.3 PPG, 8.7 APG, 1.8 SPG

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Denver Nuggets logo
Golden State Warriors logo
3
6
Nuggets
Warriors
4
2
Nuggets
Record: 57-25
Analysis: Lost in the Miami Heat's historic 27-game tear through the Association this season was the streak emanating from the Rocky Mountains, as the Nuggets broke out a 15-game march of their own and enter the playoffs winning 23 of their last 26. Denver's up-tempo, run-n-gun style also has bestowed the unofficial title of most exciting team to watch on the Nuggets' mantle. With a franchise-best 55 wins, 105.9 points per game and possibly the deepest roster in hoops, Denver should be garnering hype as a dark horse contender for the Western Conference crown.

The key word is should. Sadly, despite what their record may convey, the Nuggets will be limping into the playoffs. Star Danilo Gallinari (16.2 points, 5.2 rebounds) will be out for the postseason after the Italian sharpshooter suffered an ACL tear on April 4. Rebounding machine Kenneth Faried's status is up in the air, as the forward tends to an ankle sprain. And though he's returned, Ty Lawson is not fully recovered from a heel injury that sidelined the speedy point guard for eight games in late March.

Nevertheless, the aforementioned depth should keep the Nuggets buoyed during this adversity. Wilson Chandler has averaged over 16 points per game since the All-Star break and, along with Andre Miller, leads one of the best benches in basketball. Throw in the explosiveness of Andre Iguodala and a deep frontcourt, don't look for Denver to go out without a fight.

Warriors
Record: 47-35
Analysis: Historically known as a franchise that lights up the scoreboard, the 2012-13 edition of the Warriors have made their bones on the other end of the floor, suffocating opponents to a 43.9 shooting percentage (fourth-best in the NBA). The change of attitude is accredited to the philosophy of second-year coach Mark Jackson, instilling a defensive-minded game plan in his attack. Offseason acquirement Jarrett Jack has helped bring this conviction into practice, as well as, when healthy, Andrew Bogut.

But make no mistake, the Warriors are still a band capable of racking up buckets. In his fourth year in the league, Stephen Curry was able to shake off injury concerns to submit his best season to date, averaging 22.9 points a game off a 45.3 percentage from beyond the arc. Assisting Curry in this endeavor have been Klay Thompson (chipping in 16.6 points per contest), Jack (12.9 points) and Carl Landry (10.8 points), while David Lee logged his second trip to the All-Star Game thanks to averages of 18.5 points and 11.2 boards. Making the franchise's first playoff appearance since 2007, Golden State's arsenal of shooters, combined with one of the more raucous arenas in the NBA, will make it a challenging out.

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Nuggets 80.7% - Warriors 19.3%

Series MVP: Ty Lawson - 15.4 PPG, 6.7 APG, 1.2 SPG

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San Antonio Spurs logo
Los Angeles Lakers logo
2
7
Spurs
Lakers
4
2
Spurs
Record: 58-24
Analysis: Age has been a lingering discussion with the San Antonio Spurs for quite some time, but an obstacle they've successfully been able to hurdle in the past. Alas, one of the pitfalls of senescence is vulnerability to injury, a problem that's muddled their outlook for the 2013 playoffs. Manu Ginobili is nursing a hamstring that puts his availability in doubt. Though he's been on the court, Tony Parker is dealing with a plethora of ailments to his ankle, neck and leg. Even Boris Diaw, who's provided a solid presence off the bench for the team, is out for the next month after undergoing back surgery. Has Father Time finally taken its toll on the Silver and Black?

Not if Tim Duncan has anything to say about it. The venerable Duncan is showing no signs of decrepitude, averaging 17.8 points and 9.9 boards this season in just 30 minutes of game time. More impressive is the 14-time All-Star's 2.7 blocks per game, his highest mark since the 2003-04 season, and his career-best 81.7 percentage from the charity stripe. Kawhi Leonard is emerging as a potential star for the Spurs, and Tiago Splitter and Danny Green are serving as sound complements, but if San Antonio holds any aspirations of a championship run, it will be on the back of its 36-year-old franchise player.

Lakers
Record: 45-37
Analysis: The team's major offseason acquisitions have underwhelmed. Their All-Star power forward missed six weeks with a foot injury. Their head coach made it five games into the regular season before getting the boot. Oh, and their franchise star just tore his Achilles tendon and will miss the playoffs. To say the 2012-13 Lakers campaign did not go as planned is like observing that Craig Sager owns some colorful ensembles.

Yet pronouncing the Lakers are a downtrodden bunch would be a misnomer, as Los Angeles might be one of the more feared No. 8 seeds in recent memory. After stumbling out of the gate, Dwight Howard seems to be settling into the City of Angels scene, averaging 18.4 points and 13.6 rebounds since the All-Star break. Although battles with a back injury have robbed Howard of his notorious upward mobility, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year remains a force in the paint. Pau Gasol has been strong since returning to the club in late March, illustrating the deftness and touch that's been fundamental to his offensive prowess through the years. And while a hamstring issue puts Steve Nash's ability in doubt, when he's on the floor, few in the NBA possess the revered guard's vision and downtown aptitude.

It will be an uncanny circumstance watching the Lakers sans Kobe Bryant in April. However, those planning a short postseason excursion for Los Angeles may be premature in their obituaries.

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Spurs 91.4% - Lakers 8.6%

Series MVP: Tim Duncan - 17.7 PPG, 11.4 RPG, 2.6 BPG

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