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Playoff Picks from NBA Expert JJ Redick

Playoff Picks from NBA Expert JJ Redick
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The NBA Playoffs are here.

With NBA superstars competing for more bling for their fingers, there’s a new storm of future stars fighting for a spot in the mix. 15-year NBA veteran and current ESPN analyst J.J. Redick gives his outlook on what he predicts the playoffs to look like.

New York Knicks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

Redick stated that the most even matchup in the first round was the New York Knicks versus the Cleveland Cavaliers. While discussing Cleveland, Redick highlighted their defensive ability in young stud Evan Mobley. Redick says, “Evan Mobley, who I had as my second on my Defensive Player of the Year and First Team All-Defense, I think he’s going to be really interesting in the series. Especially with his switchability and he’ll end up probably a lot on [Jalen] Brunson… Late game… he’ll be matched up with [Julius] Randle as well. So, he’s a big key to me.”

As for the Knicks side of pace, Redick has two players to keep eyes on, “I think [Immanuel] Quickley is a huge X-factor for the Knicks as he has been all season… he’s been outstanding… his defense is going to be big… on the other end, you have Jalen Brunson who has been one of the best clutch performers all season.” Redick expects most of the series to be close games, and predicts matchups to come down to the last minute.

Knicks and Cavs
Ron Schwane/AP Photo

Memphis Grizzlies vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Redick is anticipating a perimeter shootout for Memphis when the Grizzlies take on the Lakers. Redick explains that this matchup is the most intriguing and most interesting first-round matchup to him. For the Lakers aspect, Redick points out Austin Reeves. He discusses, “We saw Austin Reeves play a role and do a role really well for about a year and a half and then, all of a sudden, he just like became a different player and he’s really, really good. He has all these intangibles that I love. I think he’s going to be a key for the Lakers.”

Looking at the other side of the matchup, Redick points out the shooting threats for Memphis. Redick observes, “The comment I would make on [Luke] Kennard, because I think he’s unlocked something for them offensively that they didn’t have, just in terms of his shooting and providing space, like he’s been awesome for them since they picked him up at the deadline… I think Bane and Kennard are impact players in this series because of their shooting.”

Away from the shooting, Redick notes Memphis’ absences on their roster, missing key players Brandon Clarke and Steven Adams. While Redick doesn’t have a pick for the series, he expects the Lakers to take advantage of Memphis’ big men injuries, by feeding the ball to Anthony Davis early and often.

Lakers and Grizzlies
Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times

Denver Nuggets

Some potential struggles Redick highlighted are with Denver. The Nuggets had a rough finish to the regular season, finishing 8-12 in their last 20 games of the season. As a former NBA player, Redick reflects back on his playing career when heading into the playoffs. Redick remarks, “I always felt like I wanted to be in a rhythm and a rhythm is just that flow state that we search for as athletes, so you have sort of an individual flow state and then a team, in a sport that requires so much cooperation and sharing and sacrifice at times, like your team can be in a flow state… then it becomes about the adjustments within a series and sort of the chess match.” Despite late-season struggles, Redick thinks Denver has the right mindset to fill in their gaps, and credited how they played for the first 80% of the regular season.

The California Series

A major takeaway, which is a key series, is the California series between Golden State and Sacramento. While Golden State is the reigning NBA Champions, it is difficult to think of a scenario where the Warriors don’t make a run in the playoffs. Redick explains how during his career, he believed Stephen Curry and Draymond Green to be two of the smartest players he ever played against.

However, Sacramento has not had a playoff appearance for 16 years. Redick emphasizes, “I wish I was calling a Kings game in this series. A home Kings game. Like I cannot wait to see that arena and that fan base getting a playoff game again. It’s going to be an awesome atmosphere for them.” This is one of few matchups where viewers will see one team’s strength as the other team’s weakness, and vice versa.

Golden State Warriors
Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

Catch JJ Redick on ESPN’s coverage for NBA playoffs throughout this postseason.

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