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Monday, 16 October 2017 10:00

2017-18 CLNS Media NBA Staff Predictions

Written by 

CLNS Media's NBA pundits take aim at the upcoming season.

2017-18 NBA Predictions

Cory Prescott

Atlantic: Boston Celtics Central: Cleveland Cavaliers Southeast: Washington Wizards

Eastern Conference Finals (how many games): Boston over Cleveland (7 games)

Non-Playoff Team in 2016 that Qualifies in 2017: Miami Heat

Random Thoughts: The Eastern Conference is going to be an absolute dumpster fire, particularly for playoff spots six through eight. Cleveland and Boston are once again the top two teams by a wide margin. Giannis Antetetokounmpo takes another step forward, however, the Bucks experience some growing pains before righting the ship towards the end of the season.

The Raptors core grows stale, leading to Dwane Casey being fired mid-season. Joel Embiid plays in 55 games this season, while Ben Simmons plays an entire season healthy. Miami, Charlotte and Philadelphia all make the playoffs. Indiana, Chicago and Atlanta all drop out.

Bold Predictions: Kristaps Porzingis struggles being the No. 1 scoring option in New York, shooting 45 percent for the season. The Brooklyn Nets make it to 33 wins, with D’Angelo Russell winning the Most Improved Player award. Dwyane Wade syncs with James right away, while Derrick Rose eventually falls out of the rotation. Stan Van Gundy leaves after the Detroit Pistons miss the playoffs for a second-straight season.

Northwest: Oklahoma City Thunder Pacific: Golden State Warriors Southwest: Houston Rockets

Western Conference Finals (how many games): Golden State over Oklahoma City (7 games)

Non-Playoff Team in 2016 that Qualifies in 2017: Minnesota Timberwolves

Random Thoughts: Russell Westbrook struggles initially to adjust to new teammates Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, before OKC ultimately finds their groove. Golden State will dominate the conference yet again. Chris Paul and James Harden will coexist as partners on the court, as there is just too much talent between the two players. This will be the first year in quite some time that cracks begin to show in the San Antonio Spurs. The Los Angeles Lakers will surprise people and win some games at home, while the bottom-feeding Phoenix Suns will end up tanking this season yet again.

Bold Predictions: The Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson acquisitions push the Timberwolves to a top-10 defensive rating. Milos Teodosic takes the internet by storm with his passing, and Patrick Beverley averages a career-high in points for the Clippers. Lonzo Ball shoots under 40 percent, but garners significant noise for rookie of the year. Dirk Nowitzki struggles to stay healthy, while Rick Carlisle decides to hand over the keys to Dennis Smith Jr. Nikola Jokic and Draymond Green nearly average triple doubles for the season. The Utah Jazz get back to the playoffs and nearly replace Gordon Hayward’s production with a variety of players.   

NBA Finals (how many games): Golden State over Boston (6 games)

All NBA 1st Team

G- Russell Westbrook G- Kyrie Irving F- LeBron James F- Kevin Durant C- Karl Anthony-Towns           

MVP: LeBron James DPOY: Draymond Green ROY: Dennis Smith Jr. MIP: D’Angelo Russell            Sixth Man: Eric Gordon COY: Gregg Popovich First coach fired: Dwane Casey        

Celtics Predictions

O/U 56.5 Wins: Under Regular season record and finish: 55-27

Random Thoughts: The Boston Celtics roster is perfectly designed for today’s modern NBA. Kyrie Irving will match Isaiah Thomas’ previous season, but even more efficiently and with better defense, enough for him to land a first-team All-NBA spot. The Boston media will get on Gordon Hayward a few times during the season for his “lack of a killer instinct,” taking Horford’s position from a season ago. With Jaylen Brown, Marcus Morris and Hayward in tow, the Celtics have the right players to match up with LeBron.

Bold Predictions: Daniel Theis averages 20 minutes per game, while newcomers Semi Ojeleye and Guerschon Yabusele take turns contributing throughout the season (troubling Tommy Heinsohn with every pronunciation). As one of the team’s key cogs, Marcus Smart shoots 37 percent from deep and plays in every game. The Celtics earn a top-five offensive rating, while the defense takes a step back initially, before turning it on for the postseason. Aron Baynes provides Celtics fans relief with his solid physical play and plus-rebounding.  

Mike Walsh

Atlantic: Boston Celtics Central: Cleveland Cavaliers Southeast: Miami Heat

Eastern Conference Finals (how many games): Cavaliers over Celtics in 6 games

Non-Playoff Team in 2016 that Qualifies in 2017: Miami, Charlotte, Philadelphia in. Atlanta, Indiana, Chicago out.

Random Thoughts: Toronto, as a nobody believes in us sleeper with continuity, is scary to win the Atlantic over the no-continuity, high-expectation Celtics.

Bold Predictions: Miami Heat finish with 55 wins and the No. 1 seed.

Northwest: Oklahoma City Thunder Pacific: Golden State Warriors  Southwest: Houston Rockets

Western Conference Finals (how many games): Golden State over Oklahoma City in 6 games

Non-Playoff Team in 2016 that Qualifies in 2017: Utah and Clippers out, New Orleans and Portland in.

Random Thoughts: All-in on grizzled veteran Melo putting in playoff work!

Bold Predictions: LA Clippers miss the playoffs and finish beneath the Lakers in the standings.

NBA Finals (how many games): Golden State over Cleveland in 6 games.

All NBA 1st Team

G-Kyrie Irving G-Steph Curry F-LeBron James F-Kevin Durant C-Hassan Whiteside 

MVP: Anthony Davis DPOY: Hassan Whiteside ROY: Dennis Smith Jr. MIP: Victor Oladipo Sixth Man: Dario Saric COY: Erik Spoelstra First coach fired: Nate McMillian    

Celtics Predictions:

O/U 53.5 Wins: Under Regular season record and finish: 52-30

Random Thoughts: Takes a while to get going with all the new guys. Few weeks in and they’re something like 13-12 before going on a run. Still not sold on Gordon Hayward handling this spot and scrutiny – It’s a different ballgame in Boston. Don’t trust anyone to start opposite Kyrie, which is a concern.

Bold Predictions: Marcus Smart on the trade block by February. Jayson Tatum plays more total minutes than Jaylen Brown. Abdel Nader starts more than 25 games.

Vince Rodemer

Atlantic: Celtics Central: Cavs Southeast: Wizards

Eastern Conference Finals (how many games): Cavs over Celtics in 5

Non-Playoff Team in 2016 that Qualifies in 2017: Sixers, Heat

Random Thoughts: I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the year LeBron starts to show signs of decline. He’s got a ton of mileage and has been carrying an NBA team since 18.

Bold Predictions: Sixers are a top-4 seed in the East.

Northwest: Thunder Pacific: Warriors Southwest: Spurs

Western Conference Finals (how many games): Warriors over Thunder in 5

Non-Playoff Team in 2016 that Qualifies in 2017: Timberwolves

Random Thoughts: I wonder if the Lakers can win more than 27 games for the first time since 2013?

Bold Predictions: Lonzo Ball doesn’t finish in the top 5 of the Rookie of the Year voting.

NBA Finals (how many games): Warriors over Cavs in 5

All NBA 1st Team

G- Russell Westbrook G-James Harden F- LeBron James F- Kevin Durant C- Karl-Anthony Towns

MVP: Kawhi Leonard  DPOY: Kawhi Leonard ROY: Ben Simmons    MIP: Myles Turner     Sixth Man: Dario Saric    COY: Brett Brown       First coach fired: Earl Watson          

Celtics Predictions:

O/U 56.5 Wins: Under Regular season record and finish: 53-29

Random Thoughts: The defense gives up 107 points per game. You don’t take away two of the 10 best defensive players in the league and stay the same.

Bold Predictions: The Atlantic will come down to the last week of the regular season.

Samuel Lias

Atlantic: Boston Celtics Central: Cleveland Cavaliers Southeast: Washington Wizards

Eastern Conference Finals (how many games): Cleveland over Boston in 7 games

Non-Playoff Team in 2016 that Qualifies in 2017: Miami Heat

Random Thoughts: Will this be the year LeBron slows down? Not likely. He will be motivated to stay in top form. He is a free agent next summer and he wants to be remain the biggest NBA news item this season, and he will be. It seems as if everyone is assuming Boston and Cleveland will matchup in the conference finals, but Washington made a leap last year and that dynamic backcourt of Wall and Beal is just getting started. Also, I think Milwaukee needs to be feared RIGHT NOW. The Toronto Raptors had their hands full with the Greek Freak and it could just be a matter of time before he dominates the conference over and ruins the Celtics plans to take over the East post-LeBron.

Bold Predictions: Markelle Fultz changes his free throw form back to its previous state after his volleyball-set motion fails miserably.

Northwest: Oklahoma City Thunder Pacific: Golden State Warriors Southwest: San Antonio Spurs

Western Conference Finals (how many games): Golden State over OKC in 6

Non-Playoff Team in 2016 that Qualifies in 2017: Denver Nuggets

Random Thoughts: I’m circling OKC and Golden State…now that will be must see television. How juicy could a playoff series between those two be? The West is so loaded it’s hard to rank teams after the Warriors.

Bold Predictions: New Orleans trades Boogie Cousins at the trade deadline. The LA Lakers end up a bottom-5 team due to the competition in the West and surrender their pick to Boston. The Clippers stay healthy this postseason but still go out in the first round. Doc Rivers implodes in the postgame press conference.

NBA Finals (how many games): Golden State over Cleveland in 6

All NBA 1st Team

G-Steph Curry G-Russell Westbrook F-Kevin Durant F-LeBron James C-Anthony Davis        

MVP: Westbrook DPOY: Marcus Smart ROY: Ben Simmons MIP: Myles Turner Sixth Man: Andre Iguodala COY: Brad Stevens First coach fired: Alvin Gentry

Celtics Predictions:

O/U 56.5 Wins: Under Regular season record and finish: 55-27 (first in the East)

Random Thoughts: If Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier both make a leap this season, watch out! We’ve seen the flashes, now can the maturity and experience drive them both to another level? The trade of that final Brooklyn pick suddenly thrust each of the remaining young players into a bigger spotlight. This is it, the present and future of the Celtics. Let’s see what Danny Ainge’s picks can blossom into.

Bold Predictions: The Celtics do not get off to a slow start as many seem to expect. While the team should theoretically need time to mesh, the versatility, youth, energy and length of this team fills in those gaps and Boston excels immediately.

Cory Prescott

Cory Prescott is the Editor at Large for Boston Celtics coverage on CLNS Radio. 

Cory is a graduate of Susquehanna University, graduating with a degree in Communications - Journalism.  While at Susquehanna, Cory spent three years as the sports editor for the school's weekly newspaper.  He also worked for the Crusaders Athletics Communications Department.

Following graduation, Cory spent time writing for the Maine Hockey Journal, as well as Boston Sports Then & Now, in addition to his own blog, Brain Freeze.

A native Mainer, Cory has been residing in Boston for the past few years.

Follow Cory on twitter @CLNS_Prescott.