After March Madness and the NFL Playoffs, this is the most exciting time of the year. With such an amazing season where we saw some great basketball, it’s time for the playoffs. Russell Westbrook averaging a triple-double again and the dominance of Lebron James in his 15th season are a pair of jaw-dropping storylines. Towards the end of the season, talk have turned to who’s the Rookie of the Year between Ben Simmons and Donavan Mitchell. It’s been widespread that James Harden is expected to finally bring the MVP trophy back to Houston as finishing so close over the past three seasons. The playoffs are here, so let’s see how the first round will turn out.
We have the top-ranked team in Toronto taking on the 8th seed Washington Wizards. They begin their series on Saturday evening at 5:30 in Toronto. Toronto had their best season as they try to hopefully work towards getting past Cleveland this year. First, they must conquer the tough Wizards team, who can beat the best at any given time. Can DeRozan and Lowry get past the feisty Wizards and head to the second round? With Washington, their play is usually determined by the quality of their opponent. With John Wall healthy and Bradley Beal having the ability of going off at any given time, can they scare the Raptors? Can Toronto continue to play well and get past the Wizards? I’m going with the Raptors to eliminate the Wizards in a tough series.
Toronto Wins Series 4-3
We now have the 4 vs. 5 series as the Cleveland Cavaliers host the Indiana Pacers. Lebron James had one of the best seasons of his career and he got a young supporting cast with him this year. Cleveland has said all season that seeding didn’t matter to them. Once again, when you have playoff mentality Lebron, then that spells trouble for his opponent. Will the supporting cast show up in this playoff series and help guide Cleveland past the Pacers into the second round? Indiana has been one of the feel-good stories of the NBA this season. Victor Oladipo is most likely the Most Improved Player of the league and he became an All-Star for the first time. The Pacers were in rebuilding mode after trading Paul George to Oklahoma City. Unfortunately, this will be the end of their season against the Cavaliers.
Cleveland Wins Series 4-1
This is the 2 vs. 7 series as the Boston Celtics will battle the Milwaukee Bucks. As we all know by now, Kyrie Irving will not be available for the entire playoffs because of knee surgery. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and the rest of the young guys will have to rally around Al Harford. Boston has had their moments where they’ve been up and down since Irving went down with his injury. Can they hold off the tough and scrappy Milwaukee team? Giannis Antetokounmpo was an early season MVP-candidate, but he faded as well as the Bucks also. With Milwaukee being fully healthy for the first time this season, can they pull off the upset against the depleted Celtics. Milwaukee was looked at as one of the teams many thought would take that next step. Despite Boston dealing with injuries, I’m still picking them to beat the Bucks.
Boston Wins Series 4-3
We now have the 3 vs. 6 series as the Philadelphia 76ers battle the Miami Heat. The 76ers are the hottest team entering the playoffs as they’re currently on a 16-game winning streak. The big question headed into this series is, will Joel Embiid be available? With Embiid being out, Ben Simmons has stepped up and his numbers have gone up during the streak without the big man. Can they continue the process by beating the Heat? Out of all the teams at the bottom, this is probably the worse match-up for the 76ers. It’ll be nice if Embiid played so we can continue to see his feud with Hassan Whiteside. Miami also have a great young core of players to go along with one of the best closers in the game in Dwyane Wade. I’m still riding with the 76ers to go ahead and slide by the Heat.
Philadelphia Wins Series 4-2
We have the top seed in the Houston Rockets as they battle the 8th seed Minnesota Timberwolves. Houston has been the best team all season and the addition of Chris Paul has been great. The regular season has been great, but they’re goal is at least making it to the championship round. Many expect the Warriors and Rockets to meet, but Houston got a tough road. Minnesota will be tough; can Houston get past the tough Wolves? Minnesota made it into the playoffs on the final day of the season in an epic game against Denver. Jimmy Butler, Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins will have to come up huge in this series. Taj Gibson will have to bring his A-game on the defensive side and Jeff Teague will have to have the series of his life. Houston should advance in this tough series.
Houston Wins Series 4-1
We have the 4 vs. 5 series as the Oklahoma City Thunder battle the Utah Jazz. Oklahoma City can be the best team in the league when they play up to their potential. On the other hand, Oklahoma City plays less than stellar during times in the season. Russell Westbrook has been willing this team to this point, but he’ll need help from Paul George and Carmelo Anthony in this series. Will they come through to help him out during this series? Utah has been one of the more surprising teams of the season after losing Gordon Heyward via free agency. Donavan Mitchell has been awesome this year and is considered one of two rookie of the year candidates. Rudy Gorbet will have to command the middle in this series if they are going to walk away with the upset. Oklahoma City should win this series either way.
Oklahoma City Wins Series 4-2
This is the 2 vs. 7 series as the Golden State Warriors will battle the San Antonio Spurs. The Warriors will probably be without Steph Curry in this series as he’s dealing with a knee injury. If there’s a team that could handle missing a star, it’s Golden State. Unfortunately, Golden State has been playing horribly down the stretch which could be a concern. Will Golden State escape the first round without Steph Curry? San Antonio is making their 21st consecutive appearance in the playoffs. They will be without Kawhi Leonard like they have all season, but LaMarcus Aldridge stepped his game up all season. With San Antonio, anything can happen because Gregg Popovich is still one of the best coaches in the league. Will the Spurs take advantage of the Warriors being without Steph Curry? I’m still riding with the Warriors to win the season.
Golden State Wins Series 4-1
This is the 3 vs. 6 series and the final one of the first round of the playoffs. The Portland Trailblazers will battle the New Orleans Pelicans in what should be an exciting series. Portland is one of the more exciting teams in the league thanks to Damian Lilard and C.J. McCollum. Jusuf Nurkic will be key as he’ll be going up against Anthony Davis. In this series, guard play will be key in this series. Anthony Davis have had a MVP-caliber season and will need to continue that trend to get by Portland. Rajon Rondo will be key in this series as he’ll be lined up against Lilard and McCollum at times. Jrue Holiday will have to step his game up and prove he deserved the big contract. This is probably the toughest series and I believe the Trailblazers will edge out New Orleans.
Portland Wins Series 4-3
Are you ready for the NBA playoffs? How do you see the first round panning out? Do you see any upsets in the first round? If you are ready, you can place you bets at LVBet where you will have one of the best odds online. Leave a comment below about anything related to playoffs.