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NBA Playoffs are Here!
Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Playoffs are Here!

Tomorrow the 1st round of the NBA playoffs begins with 4 games on the schedule. Let’s take a look at the matchups for the first round.

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#8 Cleveland or Atlanta vs #1 Miami: As of this writing, we don’t know who Miami will be playing as that will be settled tonight. However, we can still make our predictions. The Heat are a physical, resilient, consistent team and those are key ingredients when making a serious playoff run. They have fought through injuries to key players, who missed extended periods of time, and still had the best record in the NBA East. Miami has plenty of scoring threats and are led by Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, and Bam Adebayo, a trio that combines for 61 points per game. They also are very difficult to beat at home.

It is very hard to imagine, either Cleveland or Atlanta giving them much of a battle in this first round. Of the two possible opponents, Atlanta probably has the most talent to give them problems.

MY PREDICTION: Miami in 4 or 5

#2 Boston 51-31 vs. #7 Brooklyn 44-38. The Celtics are playing as well as anyone in the East and they can shoot the ball. Led by Jayson Tatum (26.9) points per game and Jaylen Brown (23.6), they have weapons. Surprisingly, they are the best defensive team as well, holding opponents to 104 points per game. They are 28-13 at home and that could be a big advantage also.

The Nets have a misleading record, as they had to play a significant part of the season without their superstar, Kevin Durant. They also were without Kyrie Irving for a number of games as well. They are both back and healthy, and they will be difficult to beat. Expect the Nets to be able to score a lot of points, but struggle to stop the opponents from scoring, and that could well be the difference in this series.

MY PREDICTION: Boston in 6

#3. Milwaukee 51-31 vs. #6 Chicago 46-36 The defending champion Bucks are a team that is hard to figure out. They look unbeatable one night, and average the next. Scoring is no problem, with Giannis, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday, but they are deficient on defense, and that is an issue in determining how far they go in the defense of the their title.

On the other hand, the Bulls finished the season on a downward spiral, going 7-13 over the final 20 games. They have two talented scorers, in DeMar DeRozan and Zach Lavine, and they can put the ball in the basket. However, defense is something they appear to be allergic too.

MY PREDICTION: Expect a high scoring series. I’ll take Milwaukee in 5.

#4. Philadelphia 51-31 vs. #5 Toronto 48-34 This should be a very interesting and hard fought series between these two teams. The 76ers are inconsistent and are great one night and so-so the next. Toronto went 14-6 down the stretch and are playing at a high level, They will be a dangerous out in this matchup. The 76ers have a great player in Joel Embiid and he will play well. The key to their success will be how well James Harden plays. If he has a good series, they will move one.

Toronto is tough and physical and they are playing great basketball. They play well on the defensive end and if they can steal a win in Philly, I’m giving them a great chance to pull off a win in this first round series.

MY PREDICTION: Toronto in 6



#1 Phoenix 64-18 vs. New Orleans or LA Clippers: The Suns are the #1 seed in the Western conference playoffs. If the Clippers are the opponent, they could provide some issues. I don’t think the Pelicans will be much trouble. Phoenix has had a great season and they have great leadership in Chris Paul. They could have some issues with either team that they might play, but they aren’t going to lose this first round series.

MY PREDICTION: Phoenix in 5

#2 Memphis 56-26 vs. the #7 Minnesota: The Grizzlies, when focused and healthy can beat anyone. Minnesota is inconsistent defensively and it is hard to imagine Memphis having much trouble with them. The Grizzlies are led by Ja Marant, Dillon Brooks, and Desmond Bane and that 3-headed monster will be hard to handle.

Minnesota can score better than anyone, but they can’t stop very many opponents. That is not a good formula to stay alive in the playoffs very long. They might sneak a win in their somewhere, but I can’t see more than one.

MY PREDICTION: Memphis in 5

#3. Golden State 53-29 vs. Denver 48-34: Golden State comes into the playoffs as a very dangerous team. If Steph Curry is healthy, they might be the team to beat. They won their last five regular season games and secured the 3rd seed. On the other hand, The Nuggets are just not a team that can be taken seriously. They have talent, but lack the toughness that is needed. The Warriors have the edge in toughness, experience, and talent. Denver relies far too much on Nikola Jokic and the Warriors will be able to counteract that. I don’t see much trouble for Golden State.

MY PREDICTION: Golden State in 5

#4. Dallas 52-30 vs. #5 Utah 49-33: This has the potential for a very good first round matchup. The Mavericks narrowly missed out on the 3rd seed and they finished the regular season on a 15-5 run. They are very talented and could make a serious run at a title. Dallas has stars in Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis and they can play on both ends of the floor. They also have a 29-12 record at home which could be a factor in this series.

Utah, when healthy, is a tough out, but they only finished 10-10 down the stretch. They have enough star power to win this series, but they are going to have to win a game in Dallas to move on. The problem; they were only 20-21 on the road.

MY PREDICTION: Dallas in 6

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