Kurt Helin

Dallas Mavericks v Houston Rockets

PBT Extra: Houston, Dallas simply do not like each other

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Houston and Dallas both went after Dwight Howard. Chandler Parsons bolted Houston for Dallas, then called downtown Houston dirty. Mark Cuban and Daryl Morey snipe at each other through the media.

This is a rivalry, and it makes for an entertaining 2/7 series between the Rockets and Mavericks. On the court, there are questions about how much Rajon Rondo and James Harden can give. But the secret may be if Dallas can control their defensive boards.

Jenna Corrado and I talk about a Western Conference series that will be more interesting than these seeds normally put together. I’ll take Houston, but it will not be easy.

PBT staff playoff predictions: Lots of Golden State love from us

Draymond Green, LeBron James
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Predicting this year’s NBA playoffs — particularly in the Western Conference — feels a little like predicting the NCAA Tournament:

You know some upsets are coming, the hard part is figuring out where.

The ProBasketballTalk staff — Kurt Helin, Brett Pollakoff, Dan Feldman, and Sean Highkin — lay out our picks for the upcoming playoffs. And we stay pretty close to the chalk picks a lot of the time, just a few upsets. Unless you consider the Spurs over the Clippers a big upset. And you shouldn’t.

Here are our first round predictions, in a handy table.

source:

The only series with a real split is Portland and Memphis, which is maybe the hardest to predict. Mostly because of the mass number of injuries to those teams.

We’re going to skip ahead a little, over the second round, straight to the conference finals. If you care deeply about what we think happens in the second round you can piece it together easily. And I’m a little worried about you.

Eastern Conference Finals:

Kurt: Cleveland over Atlanta (7 games)
Brett: Chicago over Atlanta (6 games)
Dan: Cleveland over Atlanta (6 games)
Sean: Cleveland over Atlanta (6 games)

Western Conference Finals:

Kurt: Golden State over San Antonio (7 games)
Brett: San Antonio over Golden State (7 games)
Dan: Golden State over LA Clippers (6 games)
Sean: Golden State over San Antonio (7 games)

As you might expect, when it gets to the NBA Finals, we all think the Western Conference takes it. The only difference is which Western team.

NBA Finals:

Kurt: Golden State over Cleveland (5 games)
Brett: San Antonio over Chicago (7 games)
Dan: Golden State over Cleveland (6 games)
Sean: Golden State over Cleveland (6 games)

PBT Extra: Injuries make Grizzlies, Trail Blazers series hard to predict

Marc Gasol
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Wesley Matthews. Arron Afflalo. Nicolas Batum. C.J. McCollum. Chris Kaman. Mike Conley. Tony Allen. And that’s not even mentioning Marc Gasol, and LaMarcus Aldridge having recently missed games for injuries (but they will play).

Injuries will shape the West’s 4/5 matchup between the Memphis Grizzlies and Portland Trail Blazers in interesting ways. Without Conley or Allen at 100 percent, can the Grizzlies defense contain Damian Lillard? Will Portland have the bodies to limit Gasol and Zach Randolph up front from Memphis?

Jenna Corrado and I discuss this, and I still predict the Grizzlies advance in the lastest PBT Extra.

Report: NBA predicts $89 million salary cap in 2016, $22 million jump. And it keeps going up.

AP Money Found
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Are you ready for the wild, wild West of free agency in 2016 and 2017.

Super Bowl Media Day will seem less chaotic in comparison.

Once the NBA players’ union shot down the idea of smoothing in the massive influx of money from the new NBA television deal, we knew the cap would spike. Now we get an idea — $22 million in 2016, and it’s only going to keep climbing from there. The brilliant Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com — if you’re not following him in the run up to the draft you’re doing it wrong — has the details.

This has so many impacts. This summer, even though the cap is only going up a few million, you’ll see teams dish out some large contracts — think Khris Middleton — who might not normally get that much, but because a max contract under this cap will not look so bad in two years teams will do it. Call it a market max deal.

On the other side, players are not going to want to sign four-year deals when they see how much more cash will be on the table in two years.

Meanwhile, teams that didn’t manage their money all that well will have cap space to chase free agents. Teams hoarding cap space will be able to go after multiple max players at a time — and there are a lot of teams in that category.

Chaos. It’s going to be Chaos.

PBT Extra: Will Spurs depth, versatility prove too much for Clippers?

San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Clippers
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The Clippers and Spurs is a series worthy of the NBA Conference finals. These are the second and third best teams in the West, two of the top five teams in all the NBA.

And they square off in the first round. But sure, the playoff format system is just fine.

Jenna Corrado and I discuss what will decide this bloodbath of a series, one that likely goes six games at least. I just think Doc Rivers the GM has tied the hands of Doc Rivers the coach too much — the Spurs versatility and depth gives Gregg Popovich more options. He’s got more pieces on the chess board to move around.

But execution will be key, and with Chris Paul at the helm of a desperate Clipper team, they could pull off the upset.