THE NBA playoffs are upon us so let’s tackle the possible scenarios about who might advance in the first round.
In the East, the Toronto Raptors are the No. 1 seed but everybody seems to be in agreement that the Cleveland Cavaliers are still the team to beat. Still, there is a young team led by a talented rookie that just might sweep the rug from under the divison favorites.
Out West, the Houston Rockets gave emerged as the top dog with the best record in the league and for the first time in three years, they have altered the narrative in that not everybody is in agreement that the Golden State Warriors is a lock to emerge as the Western Conference champions.
EAST. The match-ups are as follows: Toronto Raptors (1) vs. Washington Wizards (8); Cleveland Cavaliers (4) vs. Indiana Pacers (5); Philadelphia 76ers (3) Miami Heat (6); Boston Celtics (2) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (8)
The Wizards had a good run in the middle of the season and surprisingly when John Wall came back, they tanked. This seems to be a team that’s still struggling to find its identity and with so much talent in the Raptors I think they win this series in six games.
The Cavs should be able to handle the Pacers in six hard-fought games, principally because Lebron James has been playing exceptionally well lately. Plus, he’s never lost a first round playoff match-up.
The 76ers, led by probable Rookie of the Year winner Ben Simmons, have been on a tear lately and they should be able to handle the Heat in five games.
The Celtics will be without Kyrie Irving which is a bummer but their solid play and defensive tenacity should get them by the Bucks in a seven-game series.
WEST. Houston Rockets (1) vs Minnesota Timberwolves (8); OKC Thunder (4) vs. Utah Jazz (5); Portland Trailblazers (3) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (4); Golden State Warriors (2) vs. San Antonio Spurs (7).
The Rockets will have their hands full against the Timberwolves. Jimmy Butler’s return has boosted their stock by at least 50 percent , but because they have been clicking and firing on all cylinders for the whole season they should win this in five games.
The Thunder have the talent to advance all the way to the Finals but their inconsistent play has hurt them all season. But because they beat the Jazz three out of four times during the regular season, they should prevail in six games.
Portland has too much firepower especially in the backcourt and with the injury of DeMarcus Cousins, the Trailblazers should emerge the victors in six games.
Don’t let the Warriors fool you. They have been losing lately without Steph Curry but I think they are just bored and eager for the playoffs to begin. The absence of Kawhi Leonard will hurt the Spurs and so they lose to the Warriors in five games.