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El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

EE-SPN Ep. 6: NBA Playoff Predictions 2024

Predicting the 2024 NBA Conference Semifinals


JC: ​​Hey everyone, welcome to episode six of EE-SPN. It’s been a while but we are back. I’m Jason Chu.

SB: And I’m Samika Bhatkar. 

JC: And we’re here to talk about the 2023 to 2024 Conference semifinals and our predictions. 

SB: Yeah, let’s start with the Western Conference. I think we can go ahead with the Mavs and Thunder. What do you have? Who do you have winning it?

JC: So I think right now, it’s obviously really close. And both teams are performing relatively well, I would say. I think for the Thunder specifically, they definitely — will probably get it — in seven. Especially with the way Shai is showing really strong presence on offense, and he’s scoring — last game, he scored 34, and he’s been consistently scoring 30. Chet Holmgren has also been a really large pickup and helped out with their team dynamic. So I think those factors probably will give Thunder the edge, but it will definitely be very close because the Mavs are performing very well as well. 

SB: You still have Thunder in seven though? 

JC: Yes, I do. 

SB: You don’t think they’re too young?

JC: I think the Mavs have still some things to figure out, and it’s been kind of a trend in the past few years. So I would give Thunder the edge.

SB: I don’t know, I don’t think so. I think it’s going to be Mavs in seven: yeah, OK, the Thunder had a pretty strong offense this season. But I don’t know, I think besides that I don’t think they can match up to how the Mavericks play every night. I mean, you look at Luka Dončić, and I think he’s been mellowing out a little bit, but I think he’s a very consistent player, especially when it comes to assists — you really need those. And also, I think what we need to account for is that the Mavs have a really good three point game. And I think you could say the same for the Thunder, but let’s see, we look at Dončić who ranks second in the league with most threes made per game — he averages about 4.1 made-threes per game. I think that’s a pretty solid stat. And I think ultimately it’s just going to be the Maverick’s offense that’s going to carry them a little. I know we saw in I think it was game five, I think the Mavs just gave their edge at the end, they were leading for 10 to 11 points. And then at the very end, it was obvious that they were just getting tired, and then the Thunder just had this sporadic burst, and they just popped off, went crazy and they win the game by four, right? But I don’t think you can rely on that kind of inconsistency when it comes to a playoff series, because that’s, that’s really what’s gonna matter is consistency. And I guess you could see that with Shai and his 30 points, but besides them just being, having these kind of consistent numbers and maybe going off in the beginning of games. I don’t think they have anything despite that that will let them get a ring.

JC: Yeah, I will say I think the series could definitely swing either way, but just with how the players have been playing so far, I think, and the history especially of the Mavs, they haven’t exactly proven themselves, especially last season as well, to be fully ready to contend for a championship. So I will say I think especially, I do have the — I would say the Thunder are probably the underdogs, but I do have the underdogs on this series. But yeah, I definitely agree with what you said. I think let’s talk a little bit about the Nuggets and Timberwolves series now, let’s move to that. 

SB: Arguably the best series. 

JC: Yeah, this one is definitely my favorite series. Obviously, the Nuggets, defending champions, are probably favored. And I would say I do have the Nuggets in seven. But I want to see the T-Wolves take it to be honest, because they’ve really just had such a strong breakthrough season and with Ant and Kat and Gobert being really strong presence and stepping up. It’s kind of a little bit more tough now because they were up 2-0 and actually won some away games. But now it’s a little bit more difficult. But I do think overall, Jokić and Murray, the classic, is probably favored to win this in seven but it will definitely be a very close series. 

SB: Well OK, let’s look at the record. I think right now Denver is leading 3-2, and we know that Minnesota won the first two games. I don’t think Denver can win four in a row. I don’t think they can do that. There’s no way that the Timberwolves are going to pass off an opportunity that easily. I mean, they went off the first two games, and then all of a sudden they come crashing down? I mean, yeah, I do see that energy. It’s kind of typical of them, honestly. I think similar to the Thunder, they’re just a bit young right now. But I don’t think the Timberwolves are gonna give up that easily. And I don’t think it would just, there’s no way, there’s no way — we look at Anthony Edwards, such aggressive demeanor. I think we saw it in the last series with the Suns, he just wasn’t giving up, and I can’t, I just can’t see that energy going away for this series. So I’m gonna have to go with the Timberwolves in seven, because, just relying on the fact that I don’t think they’re going to give it up that easily. I mean, OK. Let’s look at the Timberwolves. I think they have a great rebounds per game statistic. They have around 41.4 rebounds per game. I think that’s very helpful because their defense has improved a lot. When you have Kat and Gobert, and also just Anthony Edwards, those, insane blocks, whenever anyone just goes up for a simple layup. He’s not letting those easy points happen, which I think is honestly just going to happen, just preventing these easy points. I think honestly, something that might be holding them back is their three point shooting. 

JC: Yeah, they’re definitely very strong in the paint. 

SB: I mean, they still ranked third best in the NBA, they have a three point shooting percentage of 38.7%. But, they rank 15th in the league with about 12.6 per game. So I think that’s what’s holding them back. 

JC: Yea, I do think definitely, they will take at least one more. But I would still give the edge to Jokić, he’s playing really well as well. And obviously, defending champions are more likely. But I would be very excited to see if they can sort of figure out what they didn’t get one and two again and make it work out. I think let’s move on to the Eastern Conference. So we can start with Celtics and Cavs. What are your thoughts on that series?

SB: I think that one’s pretty obvious. Definitely Celtics in five. Sure, maybe Cleveland won a game here. But I think you just need to give them a little bit of that edge. I mean, obviously it’s hard to just have a sweep in the conference semifinals. I don’t think anyone really anticipated any sweeps for any of the games. But yeah, it’s definitely Celtics in five. I mean, Donovan Mitchell’s injured, he’s the Cavs best player. I don’t think they stand a chance without him.

JC: Yeah, like you said, Mitchell’s injury, I think is he was really a strong presence and dropping around 30, and now he’s gone. So I think the Celtics would have been favored anyways, so now it should probably come to a close pretty quickly. I would agree with what you said. And then moving to Knicks and Pacers, the last series, what are your thoughts on that series?

SB: A bit inconsistent. It hasn’t been, I think if you’re a Knicks or a Pacers fan, this might be some of the most stressful games he’s ever seen just because of how close they can get at the end. For the first couple of games, they were pretty down to the wire. And last couple of games, they’ve just been a bit inconsistent. You just have one team carrying at the end. I think the Knicks were able to let me see — I think the Knicks last game was on Tuesday, I believe, and they were able to have a pretty solid blowout 30 points. And then the games before that, then the Pacers had a blowout for about 33 points. Then before that the games were very close. The first three games were very close. So I’m gonna have to give this to the Knicks in seven despite injuries, OG,  how do you pronounce his last name? 

JC: Anunoby? 

SB: Anunoby. Hopefully I’m saying that right. With him injured, I still think they stand a chance because, especially with Donte DiVincenzo, man, that three point shooting is wild — he definitely can be so clutch in the fourth quarter. I think the Knicks have a chance. 

JC: Yeah I would say that. I think the Knicks are definitely probably going to take it but I do see the Pacers having a good shot, especially because the Knicks are down on some of the big players right now. We have three pretty major injuries. OG’s injured, Hart is injured and Randall’s also injured. So if they’re able to capitalize on that, I think it would — we could see the series swinging in their way. But I think it will definitely be very close. I have the series going into seventh and yeah, I guess we’ll see what happens.

SB: I think Pacers need to improve their rebounding. And I will say I think, aside from the Celtics and the Cavs, the series it’s been a little uninteresting, because I think so many of the games just eventually end up coming to fouls. And that’s not what you’re trying to see. In the playoffs, you’re not trying to see who’s getting more fouls, that takes away the fun of it.

JC: Free throws are definitely not fun to watch.

SB: Yeah, last few games are just solid blowouts. I think honestly, if New York is a bit more consistent with the three point shooting, if they don’t just rely on DiVincenzo to always, just clutch I think if they can be a little more consistent with the way all their players — just their chemistry. Sometimes you’ll just have Randle carrying— he’s unstoppable, he’s too tough to guard. 

JC: Do you have any predictions for finals? Who you think the teams are going to be? And do you have one team that you think is going to take it all?

SB: Well, I said in the Western Conference, I had the Timberwolves and I know it’s a bit eager to think but I think yeah, I still think they can make it to the finals. If they do end up going against the Mavs, I think it would be an easy one for the Timberwolves, maybe Timberwolves in six and then in the Eastern Conference, I don’t think picking the Celtics is a big surprise to anyone, they’ve just been unstoppable this season, very formidable. They haven’t been letting their guard down this playoffs season, which I think is pretty impressive. So honestly, I would just have to give it to the Celtics this season. I think this is their season. They’ve been trying to win a ring for the past couple of years. I think it’s their time now.

JC: Yeah, I definitely see the Celtics. I would 100% agree, probably taking it on the Eastern Conference. And I think either the Nuggets or the Timberwolves have a good shot on the Western Conference. And both of the series will probably be pretty close either way. But I’m definitely hoping that the Timberwolves can take this pretty far, because they’re the underdogs and they’re showing a lot of brilliance in their play. But I guess we’ll see what happens. Yeah. OK. All right, that’s it everyone. Thank you so much for joining us today for another episode of EE-SPN, and we’ll see you guys next time.

About the Contributors
Samika Bhatkar
Samika Bhatkar, Arts and Entertainment Editor
Samika is currently a junior and Arts & Entertainment editor for El Estoque. She loves listening to hip-hop and rap music and playing with her dog. In her free time, Samika watches NBA games or cooks Indian food with her mom.
Jason Chu
Jason Chu, News Editor
Jason Chu is a junior and News Editor for El Estoque. He has enjoyed writing since a young age and also loves to play volleyball and guitar.
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