I’m not suggesting you make plans for LeBron James’s return to D.C. for the Eastern Conference finals, but after seeing ESPN’s expert picks for the Wizards-Pacers semifinal series, you might want to at least start clearing your calendar.
You might remember that 15 out of these same 16 “experts” picked the Bulls to beat the Wizards in the first round. Michael Wallace, the only “expert” who picked Washington in the first round, likes the Wizards to advance again.
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) April 30, 2014
Some other predictions while you’re here…
Wall and Beal never made it to the Final Four during their one season each of college basketball. But here’s saying they don’t have to wait another year to get to the final four of the NBA playoffs, that a stranger to the second round goes back to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since Wes and the Big E in 1979.
Wizards over Pacers in six. “Book” it.
Washington looked impressive in its first-round win over Chicago, and enters the second round riding a wave of confidence. But the Pacers are deeper, more talented and have succeeded on this stage before. Whether or not it turned a corner in Game 7 against Atlanta, Indiana can summon a level of performance few teams can match. Washington is not one of them.
Mike Greenberg: Wizards in 6
Don’t tell me because you barely survived an under-.500 Atlanta team and needed an unbelievable final stretch in Game 6 by David West and because Roy Hibbert actually scored on Saturday that all of a sudden all is well. They’re stepping up in a class in a big way here. The Wizards are good and athletic.
Mike Golic: Pacers in 7
Indiana fans remain quite confident in their Pacers despite the eighth-seeded Atlanta Hawks taking them to seven games.
The lone dissenter, Jeff Zilgitt:
Indiana hasn’t played the kind of basketball that indicates it is a championship team often enough but this team might just be a survivor. Washington will be a popular pick to win this series, as they have promise not only for the future but for the now. Still, the Pacers wanted and earned home-court for a reason. Pacers in 7.
At last, the Pacers can get back to being the Pacers. For so much of the Hawks series, Frank Vogel refused to give in. His team would play their style of basketball – smashmouth basketball – and surely, that would be enough, right? Only it wasn’t. Vogel finally acquiesced and went small in Game 6. Turns out, the decision saved the Pacers’ season.
The Wizards starting line-up features two 6-11 players that – the following fact being critical – do not shoot from beyond the 3-point line. Out with the Hawks’ spread-em-out attack that confounded Indiana for the bulk of the series; in with the more traditional Wizards’ system.
For the Pacers, that’s perfectly fine with them. Now, smashmouth can reign again.
The TNT Crew
Grant Hill and Charles Barkley like the Wizards. Kenny Smith likes the Pacers.
Bill Simmons: He reaffirmed his pick yesterday that the Wizards will make the Eastern Conference finals.
Kyle Weidie, Truth About It
— Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) May 5, 2014
The Bullets Forever Crew: 6 Wizards, 2 Pacers