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Summarizing the NBA First Round and Analyzing the Eastern Conference Semifinals
Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Summarizing the NBA First Round and Analyzing the Eastern Conference Semifinals

The first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs went about as expected with the top 4 seeded teams advancing to the next step. Let’s take a look at the first round series by series.

No.1 Miami defeated No.8 Atlanta 4 games to 1:The Heat were clearly the better team and took care of the Hawks with relative ease. They are the best defensive team in the East and are very consistent. Next up a second round matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers without superstar Joel Embiid who was injured late in Game 6 against Toronto and will miss at least the first two games.

No. 2 Boston defeated No.7 Brooklyn 4 games to zero: Obviously, Boston was very impressive in this series as they made the big plays to win 4 straight close games. They can beat you in a game, featuring offense, as well as playing shutdown defense. They have emerged as a lot of people’s favorites to win the conference. Brooklyn showed that they are a team in need of some heart. It should be an interesting offseason for the Nets. Next up for Boston will be the defending champion, Milwaukee Bucks.

No.3 Milwaukee defeated No. 6 Chicago 4 games to 1: After splitting the first two games in. Milwaukee, the Bucks came back and easily won the next 3 games against the Bulls. Even more impressive, was the fact that their 2nd leading scorer, Khris Middleton didn’t play after Game 2. Their second round series against Boston should be a classic.

No.4 Philadelphia defeated No.5 Toronto 4 games to 2: The Sixers won the first three games of the series before losing the next two against the stubborn Raptors. They then trashed Toronto 132-97 in Game 6, but in the process Joel Embiid suffered a broken bone to his face and a mild concussion. He will miss at least 2 games in the semifinal matchup against top-seeded Miami. That is a major blow to Philly.


No.1 Miami vs. #4 Philadelphia: Game 1 is Monday in Miami This series has taken a major turn with the injury to Joel Embiid of the 76ers. He is, arguably, the league’s MVP and there is no way Philly can make up for his absence. His effect on the game on both ends of the floor is a key to the Sixers chances. So, when predicting the outcome of this series, we have to see how many games he is going to miss. Because he suffered a concussion, he must sit out a minimum of 5 days. He has a fractured orbital bone is his face and a torn ligament in his thumb, so he is beat up. Philly has good players around him led by Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris, and James Harden and they will have to play at a high level to makeup for Embiid’s loss. Meanwhile in Miami, the Heat aren’t exactly healthy either. Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herro, Caleb Martin, and P.J. Tucker all missed practice on Friday. But, this isn’t anything new when assessing Miami. They have dealt with injuries all season and one has to assume these guys will be ready come Monday night.

This matchup features the consistency and toughness of Miami against the 76ers and their lack of focus in some games. There isn’t much difference in the two teams and this will be a great series if the injury problems don’t get in the way. I’ve liked Miami all year and I’m not going against them now. They are tough to beat at home and 4 of the potential seven games will be played in Miami. I’ll take the Heat in 6.

No.2 Boston at No.3 Milwaukee: Game 1 is Tuesday in Boston. Talk about a series that is hard to analyze and try and find a favorite this is it. Boston played as well as anyone in the NBA after the All-Star break and swept the Nets in 4 games in the first round. Even though it was a sweep, the games were close and the Celtics made the big plays when they had too to win every game. Statistic-wise they are the best team in the East, and they were tenacious against Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, harassing them and making them earn everything they got. Offensively, they have the one-two punch of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown who are averaging 53 points per game between them. They are consistent and solid. On the other hand, the Bucks feature all-everything Giannis Antetokounmpo (29 pts and 13 rebounds per game), and he gets support from Jrue Holiday and Grayson Allen among others. A key element to take into consideration will be the absence of Khris Middleton who was the Bucks’ 2nd best player in the regular season. He is listed as doubtful for the entire semifinal series.

This matchup features a healthy Boston team, playing in top form, against the defending NBA champion that has the heart and experience needed to win it all. Both teams were 51-31 in the regular season, and split the four games they played against each other. They both are tough to beat at home and have similar offensive stats. In short, there is very little to choose from. I’m going with the Celtics because they are healthier and the loss of Middleton will be a problem for the Bucks. I’ll take Boston in 7.


  • #1 MIAMI
  • #2 BOSTON


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