Predicting first round matchups and outcomes in the NBA playoffs.
1 Toronto Vs 8 Milwaukee
Toronto is a team with poise and depth. Although they do have a star player that really makes the engines hum when he is in the rotation. When Demar Derozan doesn’t play you can expect Toronto to be a middling team who could lose to anyone I.e. Orlando last week. This team has beaten the best teams in the NBA consistently this year.
Milwaukee has seemingly not grown at all since last year. Part of that could be a mid season coaching change that has shaken up the locker room. The other parts are more complicated, Milwaukee is 27th in forth quarter scoring and 22-18 in close games where it comes down to the final few possessions. It often seems like the ball is in Giannis’s hands for the last possession, but he has not yet developed a formidable shot needed to ice these close games.
Results: Toronto in 5 Games
Toronto just plays better basketball and although they rely on a superstar, their team is far more balanced and has the poise to win close games. I think Milwaukee could steal one at home but that’s as far as this goes.
2 Boston Vs 7 Miami
Boston is not healthy of late, they are without Kyrie Irving and Marcus Smart, their best player and a very important role player. Somehow Brad Stevens gets it done. The past 2 games without those players the Celtics have won against the likes of the Thunder and the Trailblazers two of the Western Conferences best teams, but the window on Kyrie’s return is so open with a 3-6 week timetable this team’s immediate future is uncertain.
Miami is a team that doesn’t rely solely on their best player. Goran Dragic is leading the team in scoring, but they have 9 players that score in double figures. A deep team one would say. Hassan Whiteside’s defensive prowess has been valuable in stopping teams from attacking the paint with success. They have beaten good teams and abysmally lost to bad teams but it seems like they are always in games until the end.
Results: Celtics in 7
Overcoming injuries and game planning are two skills Brad Stevens knows well. This will be a tight series but if he can coerce Jayson Tatum and Jaylon Brown to show up every night the Celtics will win this series.
3 Cleveland Vs 6 Washington
The Cavaliers have been hot lately, and this isn’t surprising in the least that they overcame their mid season lull to put a nice sprint to the finish together. Lebron is on fire of late and having Kevin Love back is just what this team needed. Getting Larry Nance and Rodney Hood back should add some needed depth to their lineup as well.
Washington is 4-6 in their last 10 and are struggling now to find consistent scoring from players not named Bradley Beal. But they get John Wall back soon and this team will be at full strength come playoffs.
Results: Cavaliers in 5
The Cavs are just playing too good and I doubt the Wizards will have figured out what to do with John Wall and Bradley Beal both jockeying for extra touches when they are both on the court. I think they steal one at home, but this is in the bag for Cleveland.
4 Philadelphia Vs 5 Indiana
The Sixers are hot of late, going 8-2 in their last 10 games, this season ending hot streak has put them in 4th place with 10 games to go. Though only up 1 in the Pacers, if they can secure the 4 seed it will be an amazing turnaround for a team that finished below 30 wins last year. Ben Simmons is a triple double machine and Joel Embiid is a force. They are complimented with great shooters as well and play great defense.
The Pacers have been in the playoff picture all year. With great play from Victor Oladipo and Bojan Bogdonovic along with Myles Turner and a resurgence from Darren Collison, this team seems to be in every game they play. Can this unlikely cast keep it going?
Results Philadelphia in 6
The firepower from Philly is too great and the center matchup tips heavily in Philly’s favor. I think the Sixers show some inconsistencies as a result of their young superstars not being playoff tested but the final result is the same. Philly Wins.