NBA playoffs: St. Edward’s men’s basketball predictions true so far


Cleveland forward LeBron James fires a pass to a teammate during the third quarter on Sunday, April 17, 2016, at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. 

At the beginning of the 2015-16 season, the St. Edward’s University men’s basketball team predicted the NBA Finals Champions. With the NBA playoffs thriving, now would be a good time to see if the selected teams are still in the championship race, and where they stand.

Cleveland Cavaliers – No. 1 (Eastern Conference)

The most popular team pick of the 14 votes is Cleveland, which includes votes from senior forward Quinton Lilley, sophomore shooting guard Aubrie King, red-shirted freshman forward Alex Doche, freshman forward Cory McKendree and Assistant Coach Jack Dorn.

Finishing the regular season with a 57-25 record, the Cavaliers are defensively powered by LeBron James, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving and J.R. Smith, who narrowly won game one with a 106-101 score against the No. 8 Detroit Pistons. However, Detroit made late-season strides for the final playoff spot, and a series win would be a bracket-busting, season-ending upset for the Cavs.

Golden State Warriors – No. 1 (Western Conference)

Sophomore point guard Sean Watkins casted the only vote for the defending champion Warriors.

The Warriors came out to play, as they have broken record after record, even surpassing the Michael Jordan-led Bulls of 1995-96 in reaching a historic 73 wins for the NBA’s new regular-season wins record. In the first-round series of the playoffs, the Warriors lead the Houston Rockets 1-0 thanks to offensive golden boy Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson.

San Antonio Spurs – No. 2 (Western Conference)

Fittingly so, St. Edward’s Head Coach Andre Cook picked the 67-15 Spurs as champs because he considers the San Antonio Head Coach Gregg Popovich the “best coach in the league.”

A 106-74 blowout victory in playoff opener has many basketball fans believing the Spurs will sweep the No. 7 Memphis Grizzlies in this series. The Spurs organization has so many strong pieces that form a puzzle of basketball greatness. Seeking a sixth franchise championship, this team of veteran leaders and young talent has a bright future ahead.

Oklahoma City Thunder – No. 3 (Western Conference)

The Thunder received votes from junior shooting guard Ramir Burton and senior forward Trey Lindsey, who considers point guard Russell Westbrook the team’s MVP.

Taking on the No. 6 Dallas Mavericks in the playoff opener, the Thunder had an easy 108-70 victory. As Lindsey predicted, Westbrook dominated in Game 1 with 24 points. Up by 30, he and the rest of the Thunder starters rested in the final quarter, still securing a 1-0 series lead.

Los Angeles Clippers – No. 4 (Western Conference)

Junior guard John Gramlich believes in the Clippers, and so does senior point guard Frank Mgbolu, who considers Chris Paul III the “best true point guard” who will carry the team.

A 53-29 regular season record landed the Clippers a No. 4 seed in the playoffs. Mgbolu’s top point guard Paul scored an impressive 28 points, had 11 assists and grabbed six rebounds in the series-opening win against the No. 5 Portland Trailblazers for a 115-95 victory. Five other players scored in double-digits, making a strong case for the Clippers to go far this post-season.

Houston Rockets – No. 8 (Western Conference)

Volunteer Assistant Marwan Elrakabawy picked the Rockets, who finished their season breaking even in the record books at 41-41.

Unfortunately for Houston, they are now facing the champion-primed Warriors in the playoff series. After a crushing 104-78 loss in Game 1, the Rockets need a hope and a prayer — and less cold-shooting from their starters James Harden and Dwight Howard if they want to beat the Warriors four times for the upset of the century.

Los Angeles Lakers (Western Conference)

Twenty years of Kobe Bryant magic gave forwards Ethan Gilbert and James Taylor a reason to vote for the Lakers.

The Lakers struggled from the beginning, finishing their season with a 17-65 record, a franchise worst. Despite the Lakers’ struggles, this season was a tribute to the legendary Bryant, who bid adieu to the game of basketball by scoring 60 points in the final game of his career on April 13.