NBA Playoff Predictions 2014

2014 NBA PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS AND PREVIEW

WhatIfSports.com presents the 2014 NBA Playoff Predictions and Preview. After accurately picking a Heat over Spurs championship a season ago, we are attempting to repeat out prediction success. We simulated the entire schedule of the 2014 NBA Playoffs 1,001 times, taking into account home court advantage and the statistical makeup of each team. The simulation generated each team's round-by-round probability of advancing, available in the table to the right of the bracket.

Simulate any playoff game yourself using our free NBA SimMatchup feature.

Round 1
Conf. Semis
Conf. Finals
NBA Finals
1
8
Pacers
Hawks
4
2
4
5
Bulls
Wizards
4
3
3
6
Raptors
Nets
2
4
2
7
Heat
Bobcats
4
1
1
8
Spurs
Mavericks
4
2
4
5
Rockets
Trail Blazers
4
2
3
6
Clippers
Warriors
4
2
2
7
Thunder
Grizzlies
4
2
1
4
Pacers
Bulls
3
4
6
2
Nets
Heat
2
4
1
4
Spurs
Rockets
3
4
3
2
Clippers
Thunder
3
4
4
2
Bulls
Heat
2
4
4
2
Rockets
Thunder
4
3
2
4
Heat
Rockets
4
3

WINNING PERCENTAGES

Eastern Conference
Seed/Team Round 1 Conf. Semis Conf. Finals NBA Finals
2 Miami
96.4% 82.8% 75.3% 45.2%
6 Brooklyn
69.4% 13.1% 7.8% 1.5%
4 Chicago
51.1% 34.1% 7.3% 1.3%
1 Indiana
69.5% 25.3% 2.8% 0.6%
5 Washington
48.9% 32.0% 4.2% 0.3%
3 Toronto
30.6% 3.6% 2.1% 0.3%
8 Atlanta
30.5% 8.7% 0.4% 0.0%
7 Charlotte
3.6% 0.5% 0.1% 0.0%
Western Conference
Seed/Team Round 1 Conf. Semis Conf. Finals NBA Finals
4 Houston
88.8% 54.2% 37.7% 21.6%
1 San Antonio
72.2% 36.2% 22.4% 13.3%
2 Oklahoma City
82.3% 49.2% 19.7% 8.2%
3 L.A. Clippers
79.7% 40.1% 14.9% 6.4%
8 Dallas
27.8% 7.4% 3.0% 1.2%
5 Portland
11.2% 2.2% 0.6% 0.2%
6 Golden State
20.3% 6.5% 1.2% 0.0%
7 Memphis
17.7% 4.3% 0.6% 0.0%
Indiana Pacers Logo
Atlanta Hawks Logo
1
8
Pacers
Hawks
4
2
Pacers
Record: 56-26
Analysis: Despite capturing the East's No. 1 seed, the Pacers enter the playoffs as a team in need of a reset. After carrying a conference-best 40-12 record into the All-Star break, Indiana has struggled to a 16-14 mark. The rut reached its lowest point on April 9 when, following a 2-7 stretch, coach Frank Vogel opted to rest all of his starters against the lowly Bucks (a game the Pacers naturally won).

While the Pacers have maintained a stellar defense that surrenders 92.3 points per game and holds opponents to 42 percent shooting, the offense has frequently fizzled in the season's second half. Indiana is plagued by an unproductive second unit (28th in bench scoring) even though midseason acquisitions Evan Turner and Andrew Bynum were meant to alleviate those concerns. Turner has averaged 6.8 points in 20 minutes off the bench after scoring 17.4 points in 54 starts for the 76ers. Bynum has made just two appearances but could still be a factor in the playoffs if his knees allow it.

Though the Pacers lack the positive momentum they'd hoped for heading into the playoffs, the goal remains the same: finally break through the Miami Heat and into the NBA Finals.

Hawks
Record: 38-44
Analysis: The Hawks lost their best player, Al Horford, 29 games into the season to a pectoral tear. With a 16-13 record at the time of Horford's injury, Atlanta has since gone 22-31, just good enough to sneak into the playoffs as the No. 8 seed.

Filling in for Horford has been Paul Millsap, a free-agent signing averaging team-highs with 17.9 points and 8.5 boards per game. Mike Scott, Pero Antic and Elton Brand have also been called upon down low.

On the perimeter, Jeff Teague is second in scoring with 16.5 points per game and also dishes a team-high 6.7 assists. Marksman Kyle Korver averages 2.6 threes, a per-game output that ranks fifth in the league. The season did bring an end to Korver's run of consecutive games with at least one three-pointer though. He connected on a three in 127 consecutive games before going 0-for-5 on March 5. Still, the streak shattered Dana Barros' previous record of 89.

Speaking of streaks, the Hawks' streak of playoff appearances now stands at seven consecutive years, but it seems unlikely the team can avoid its third consecutive first-round exit.

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Pacers 69.5% - Hawks 30.5%

Average Score: Pacers 98.2 - Hawks 95.2

Series MVP: Paul George - 20.4 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 3.9 APG

WIS Interactive: Simulate Matchup

Chicago Bulls logo
Washington Wizards logo
4
5
Bulls
Wizards
4
3
Bulls
Record: 48-34
Analysis: Just three months ago, the Chicago front office appeared to throw in the towel on the season, trading the versatile Luol Deng to Cleveland for a slew of low-end draft picks, Andrew Bynum (who was promptly waived) and cap space. In theory, this wasn't the worst of decisions. At the time of Deng's departure, the Bulls were just 14-18. Worse, franchise star Derrick Rose succumbed to another catastrophic knee injury, one that would sideline him for the rest of the 2013-14 campaign. With a loaded upcoming draft, building for the future and, for parsimonious owner Jerry Reinsdorf, avoiding the luxury tax - seemed like the right play.

Unfortunately for Reinsdorf, Tom Thibodeau's crew had a different itinerary. Since the Deng trade, the Bulls own a 34-16 record, finishing 4th in the Eastern Conference. Joakim Noah has elevated his game to an All-NBA level, averaging 12.6 points, 11.3 boards and 5.4 assists per contest. D.J. Augustin, picked off the NBA scrapheap following the loss of Rose, has become one of the league's best reclamation stories, leading the Bulls in scoring since the Deng trade. Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler are two of the better defenders in the Association and, despite their rising ages, Mike Dunleavy and Carlos Boozer continue to be offensive threats.

Though they lack the star power of other conference contenders, the Bulls are the opponent no one wants to meet this spring.

Wizards
Record: 44-38
Analysis: By almost every NBA measurement, the Washington Wizards are a pedestrian club. Though they claimed the Eastern Conference's No. 5 seed, the Wizards' 44 wins would have missed the playoffs by a considerable margin in the West. Washington finished 16th in team scoring and 15th in scoring differential, and their head coach, Randy Wittman, has the weakest resume of any playoff contender, owning a .367 career winning percentage.

Yet, with the franchise making its first playoff appearance since the 2007-08 campaign, there's nothing but excitement in our nation's capital. The "House of Guards" combo of John Wall and Bradley Beal is one of the most exciting backcourts in basketball. Wall has evolved his game in his fourth year in the league, adding a long-range shot to his offensive repertoire and improving his passing cognizance, while Beal has inserted his presence as a scoring dynamo at his position. Trevor Ariza is having one of his finest seasons in his 10th year in the league, and Nene and Marcin Gortat have been a formidable duo in the paint.

The Wiz aren't expected to go far this spring, but they have enough dangerous parts to make some noise in the Eastern Conference bracket.

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Bulls 51.1% - Wizards 48.9%

Average Score: Bulls 97.1 - Wizards 97.0

Series MVP: Joakim Noah - 12.9 PPG, 12.4 RPG, 5.7 APG

WIS Interactive: Simulate Matchup

Toronto Raptors logo
Brooklyn Nets logo
3
6
Raptors
Nets
2
4
Raptors
Record: 48-34
Analysis: Chicago's rise from the ashes following the Luol Deng trade has received most of the attention in the Eastern Conference, but Toronto's rejuvenation after dealing its own star is no less impressive. Many assumed new general manager Masai Ujiri was shooting for a high lottery pick when he sent Rudy Gay packing to Sacramento, a sentiment reinforced by the Raptors' 6-12 record and rumors that Ujiri was shopping other assets like Kyle Lowry.

However, the Raptors responded in startling fashion, going 42-22 in wake of Gay's exodus. Some of this success can be attributed to the maturation of Lowry, a talented player whose game had been curbed due to clashes with teammates and coaches. The development of young guns like DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas also has contributed to this revival, as did the depth acquired from the Gay trade in the services of Patrick Patterson, Greivis Vasquez, John Salmons and Chuck Hayes. In truth, the biggest factor in this turnaround could simply be the absence of Gay, as advanced numbers show the small forward was something of a black hole. Without Gay, Toronto now has a rhythm and flow on offense, and has materialized as a viable threat in the conference.

Nets
Record: 44-38
Analysis: It was an inauspicious start for the Jason Kidd Coaching Era in Brooklyn, with the Nets losing 21 of their first 31 contests amid reports of locker room disarray. Coupled with the season-ending loss of Brook Lopez to a foot injury, Brooklyn's playoff chances, even in the downtrodden Eastern Conference, looked bleak.

Since this stumble, Brooklyn has projected the swagger expected from its revamped roster, finishing the season with 34 wins in its final 51 outings. With Deron Williams, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett all missing various amounts of time to ailment or rest, Joe Johnson provided a stable scoring presence for the Nets, averaging 15.8 points per game. Shaun Livingston remained out of the infirmary and proved to be a sound guard in Williams' absence, and midseason acquirement Marcus Thornton has energized a dormant second unit.

The Pacers and Heat have illustrated their vulnerability heading into the playoffs. Don't be surprised if the Nets are able to take down one of these Eastern Conference giants.

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Raptors 30.6% - Nets 69.4%

Average Score: Raptors 97.4 - Nets 99.5

Series MVP: Joe Johnson - 15.4 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.1 APG

WIS Interactive: Simulate Matchup

Miami Heat logo
Charlotte Bobcats logo
2
7
Heat
Bobcats
4
1
Heat
Record: 54-28
Analysis: Miami's attitude toward this past regular season could best be described as "an inconvenience." This was especially true of the team's play since the end of February, as the club is just 13-14 in its last 27 games. The end result is a .659 winning percentage, the Heat's lowest mark in the past four years.

Part of this has to do with the absence of Dwyane Wade, whose quickly-deteriorating body limited him to just 54 games this winter. Chris Bosh didn't pick up the slack in Wade's absence, averaging just 16.2 points (his lowest output since his rookie season) and 6.6 rebounds (lowest in his career), and Miami's bench failed to provide much firepower throughout the year.

Luckily for Miami, the team still employs the services of one LeBron James, who finished behind Kevin Durant as the most efficient player in the league this year. Admittedly not fully engaged throughout the season, look for James to punch it into overdrive in the upcoming weeks. Helping James will be one of the best clutch shooters in league history in Ray Allen, and even a Wade operating at 80 percent will put adversaries on notice. With a sound defense (97.4 points allowed per game, fourth-best) and one of the game's greatest in their corner, the only thing getting in way of another Finals appearance will be the Heat themselves.

Bobcats
Record: 43-39
Analysis: Heading into the season, Charlotte was looking to distance itself from the previous two campaigns, which resulted in a total of 28 wins. Signing Al Jefferson, one of the offseason's top free agents, was a good start. Jefferson is playing his best basketball in five seasons, sporting averages of 21.8 points and 10.8 boards per game. He's provided an interior complement to Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson.

Another offseason move paying dividends was the hiring of Steve Clifford to roam the sideline. Under Clifford's tutelage, the Bobcats have vaulted to the upper echelon of defensive units, ranking fourth in points allowed and sixth in opponent field goal percentage. The defensive-minded Bobcats are a far cry from a season ago, when Charlotte yielded the second-most points in the league and ranked 27th in opponent field goal percentage.

While the Bobcats aren't in line for championship contention just yet, the franchise is displaying an encouraging trend with its first winning season since 2009-10, an impending name-change back to the beloved Hornets moniker and multiple first-round picks in the upcoming Draft.

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Heat 96.4% - Bobcats 3.6%

Average Score: Heat 103.0 - Bobcats 91.8

Series MVP: LeBron James - 24.4 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 7.1 APG

WIS Interactive: Simulate Matchup

San Antonio Spurs logo
Dallas Mavericks logo
1
8
Spurs
Mavericks
4
2
Spurs
Record: 62-20
Analysis: When the Spurs won the draft lottery and the right to select Tim Duncan in 1997, the franchise began a remarkable streak of good fortune that continues into 2014. In each of Duncan's 17 seasons, the Spurs have qualified for the postseason, never winning fewer than 60 percent of their games. Greg Popovich's job is far from easy though. Aside from Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, Duncan's supporting cast has been a revolving door over the years, requiring Popovich to continually reinvent his team. The latest rendition is built around remarkable distribution of minutes and shots. No Spurs player averages more than 30 minutes per game, a feat that hasn't been accomplished since the NBA-ABA merger. In conjunction with the shared minutes, offensive looks are evenly distributed as well. Nine members of the team average between 16.7 and 8.1 points per game.

At 37 years of age, Duncan continues to fend off decline, making 74 starts and averaging 15.1 points and 9.7 boards per game. Also showing rejuvenation is Ginobili, who struggled mightily during the 2013 NBA Finals. He's bounced back to chip in 12.3 points and a team-second 4.3 assists per game off the bench.

San Antonio is rightly a title favorite, but the West is loaded with teams hoping to knock the Spurs off their perch. Though the going won't be easy, Duncan, Popovich and company are up to the challenge.

Mavericks
Record: 49-33
Analysis: Thanks to the trio of 35-year-old Dirk Nowitzki, 37-year-old Vince Carter and 35-year-old Shawn Marion, the Dallas Mavericks boast one of the league's, shall we say, most experienced rosters. Despite the gray hairs of the Mavericks' veteran core, the team enjoyed a healthy season and accumulated 49 wins. Unfortunately, in the cutthroat Western Conference, that total garnered only a No. 8-seed and kept the Mavericks fighting until the end to simply earn a playoff berth.

Nowitzki's 80 starts were his most since the 2009-10 season, and he bounced back from averaging 17.3 points per game a season ago to his more customary 21.7 per outing. Carter, running with the second unit, enjoyed his second consecutive healthy season after three years in which he averaged 45 appearances. As for Marion, his 76 appearances were his most since the 2010-11 season and just the third time since the 2006-07 season he's matched or surpassed that total. The old-timers aren't exclusively responsible for the Mavericks' success though. Monta Ellis, in his prime as a 28-year-old, averaging 19 points and 5.7 assists for his new team.

The Mavericks' road is not an easy one by any stretch, but the know-how is in place to spring an upset or two.

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Spurs 72.2% - Mavericks 27.8%

Average Score: Spurs 102.8 - Mavericks 99.2

Series MVP: Tim Duncan - 15.6 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 3.2 APG

WIS Interactive: Simulate Matchup

Houston Rockets logo
Portland Trail Blazers logo
4
5
Rockets
Trail Blazers
4
2
Rockets
Record: 54-28
Analysis: It was quite the endeavor for GM Daryl Morey to maneuver the Rockets out of the Yao Ming-Tracy McGrady Era, but all of the GM's draft swaps and cap-friendly signings have finally put the organization in contention for the Larry O'Brien trophy. And I suppose the Thunder's gift of a franchise star for three backups didn't hurt, either.

Unfortunately, the Rockets enter the playoffs under an ominous cloud. Dwight Howard has been dealing with ankle injuries for the past month, and though he will be suiting up for the playoffs, his stamina and durability are in question. Even with Howard, the Rockets have been a mess defensively, allowing 103.1 points per game, 21st in the league.

On the bright side, the team unexpectedly welcomed back scrappy guard Patrick Beverly, who was believed to be lost for the season but returns after an absence of only eight games. James Harden has improved his distribution aptitude while Chandler Parsons and Terrence Jones have proved to be solid contributors. Add it up and the Rockets finish with the second-best offense in the NBA. They aren't firing on all cylinders, but the Rockets still having the ceiling of a championship contender.

Trail Blazers
Record: 54-28
Analysis: Since a 36-17 start to the season, the Blazers have somewhat stalled out, compiling an 18-11 record following the All-Star break. Nevertheless, Portland's hot start was enough to propel them to a preeminent spot in the ultra-competitive Western Conference, entering the playoffs as the No. 5 seed.

Part of these troubles stemmed from LaMarcus Aldridge's extended absence dealing with a back injury, as the Trail Blazers managed just a 7-5 mark with LA on the bench. Yet with Aldridge, who is enjoying a career year with 23.2 points and 11.1 boards a game, returning to the court, Portland has one of the most lethal offenses in the NBA. Reigning Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard (20.7 points, 5.6 assists) and shooting guard Wes Matthews (16.4 points) lead an offense averaging 106.7 points per contest, third-best in the league, with Nic Batum and Robin Lopez chipping in as well. The Blazers are occasionally suspect on defense, yet with Lillard and Matthews taking care of the rock (1.7 turnover differential, third-best in the Association), the Blazers will be a tough out.

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Rockets 88.8% - Trail Blazers 11.2%

Average Score: Rockets 107.0 - Trail Blazers 99.8

Series MVP: James Harden - 22.1 PPG, 6.8 APG, 4.8 RPG

WIS Interactive: Simulate Matchup

Los Angeles Clippers logo
Golden State Warriors logo
3
6
Clippers
Warriors
4
2
Clippers
Record: 57-25
Analysis: Most pundits are penciling in a Spurs-Thunder matchup in the Western Conference Finals, but the Clippers are quietly asserting themselves into position to make a deep playoff run. In Doc Rivers' inaugural season in La-La land, the Clippers won a franchise-best 57 wins. Blake Griffin made monumental leaps in development, upping his scoring average by a whopping six points from last season. (Just as entertaining Griffin getting into a shoving match with an opponent seemingly every night.) Though he missed 20 games due to various ailments, Chris Paul turned in another stellar campaign, averaging double-digit assists for the first time since the 2009-10 season. DeAndre Jordan led the league in rebounding with 13.6 boards a game while improving his scoring and rim protection. Combined with the sharpshooting of J.J. Reddick (15.2 points per game), it's easy to see why the Clips enter the spring with a league-best 107.9 points per game.

The Clippers are prone to the occasional defensive lapse, and it will be interesting to see how Rivers distributes playoff minutes among one of the deepest benches in basketball. But if you're looking for a potential NBA champ outside of the Heat-Spurs-Thunder-Pacers quartet, the Clips warrant a look.

Warriors
Record: 51-31
Analysis: The Warriors have quietly transformed from a woeful defensive squad to a more-than adequate one under coach Mark Jackson. In 2011-12, Jackson's first season on the job, Golden State's 101.2 points allowed ranked 28th in the NBA. This season, the Warriors rank 10th at 99.5 points allowed. However, the two players most responsible for the Warriors' defensive transformation are dinged up. Andrew Bogut, who leads the team with 10 boards and 1.8 blocks per game, could be sidelined for the duration of the playoffs with a broken rib. Andre Iguodala, meanwhile, has been limited to 63 games with an ongoing knee injury, but should be cleared for the playoffs.

The injuries place a greater onus on the high-scoring trio of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and David Lee. Curry is in the midst of a sensational season, averaging career-highs with 24 points and 8.5 assists per game. Backcourt teammate Thompson is also scoring at a career clip, with 18.4 points per game, including 41.7 percent three-point shooting. Lee continues to be reliable on the block, with the ninth-year player chipping in 18.2 points and 9.3 rebounds.

Still, as the No. 6 seed, the Warriors may need some heroic play from Curry and others to extend their stay in the playoffs.

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Clippers 79.7% - Warriors 20.3%

Average Score: Clippers 104.3 - Warriors 99.8

Series MVP: Blake Griffin - 23.9 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 4.0 APG

WIS Interactive: Simulate Matchup

Oklahoma City Thunder logo
Memphis Grizzlies logo
2
7
Thunder
Grizzlies
4
2
Thunder
Record: 59-23
Analysis: After reaching the title game two seasons ago, the Oklahoma City Thunder followed up the performance by capturing the West's No. 1 seed last year. However, any plans of returning to the NBA Finals were derailed by a knee injury to star guard Russell Westbrook, sending the Thunder packing after a second-round loss to the Grizzlies.

Now with the No. 2 seed in hand, the Thunder again have championship aspirations. However, the season hasn't been without its challenges. Westbrook was hampered by injury, missing 27 games from Christmas through the All-Star break. His absence wasn't all bad though, as the Thunder posted a 20-7 record during the stretch and continued the development of backup point guard Reggie Jackson (13.1 points, 4.1 assists per game). It also enabled Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka to further improve. Durant posted career-highs with 32.0 points, 20.8 shot attempts and 5.5 assists per game. He's the runaway favorite to capture his first MVP, an award hoarded by LeBron James in four of the past five seasons. Ibaka, meanwhile, has a burgeoning offensive game. His career-high 15.1 points per outing includes 23 three-pointers on 38.3 percent shooting from behind the arc. With all of the pieces in place, Oklahoma City is a serious threat to emerge out of the West.

Grizzlies
Record: 50-32
Analysis: Remember the Grizzlies of old, the franchise that didn't advance past the first round in its first 15 years of existence? Those days set sail last spring when Memphis knocked off the Clippers and Thunder en route to the Western Conference Finals. Now making their fourth straight playoff appearance, the Grizzlies are an unenviable draw for any opponent.

Memphis boasts a bruising frontcourt pairing in Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. The two combined to average 32 points per game, pull down 17 rebounds, dish out six assists and anchor one of the NBA's best defenses. On the perimeter, point guard Mike Conley submitted his best season yet, averaging a career-high 17.2 points to go along with 6.0 assists per game.

It may seem the Grizz have too many holes offensively - their average of 96.1 points per game ranks 27th in the NBA - to truly challenge the Western Conference elite. However, the Memphis squad that made it to the conference championship last season ranked 26th in points, scoring 93.4 per game, meaning opponents should not take the Grizzlies lightly.

Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Thunder 82.3% - Grizzlies 17.7%

Average Score: Thunder 99.6 - Grizzlies 95.0

Series MVP: Kevin Durant - 25.9 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 5.3 APG

WIS Interactive: Simulate Matchup

Terms of Use Customer Support Privacy Statement Advertising Choices

Popular on WhatIfSports site: Baseball Simulation | College Basketball Game | College Football Game | Online Baseball Game | Hockey Simulation | NFL Picks | College Football Picks | Sports Games

© 1999-2014 WhatIfSports.com, Inc. All rights reserved. Use of this website (including any and all parts and components) constitutes your acceptance of these Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. WhatIfSports is a trademark of WhatIfSports.com, Inc. SimLeague, SimMatchup and iSimNow are trademarks or registered trademarks of Electronic Arts, Inc. Used under license. The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.