The NBA Playoffs are here and it’s about time!
The Orlando bubble has helped determine the seedings and now it’s time for the serious stuff to get under way.
Will Lebron do it for Kobe? Can the Rockets put it together when it matters? Does Giannis have enough support? Or will Kawhi reign again?
So many questions, but before any of that is truly decided they have to get past the first round.
We take a look at each series and how it will pan out.
No. 1 Milwaukee Bucks vs. No. 8 Orlando Magic
Giannis will be too hard to stop for the Magic to offer much in this series, The Bucks have their eyes firmly on an NBA Finals appearance and the Magic don’t have the weapons needed to seriously challenge the Bucks. If Giannis can play anywhere near his best this will be a demolition job.
Prediction: Bucks 4-0
No. 2 Toronto Raptors vs. No. 7 Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn have done well to get here considering they’re missing some key weapons. Kevin Durant has missed the entire season and Kyrie Irving has been out for some time. The Raptors boast the leagues second best defence and have been playing some good ball in the bubble. Will be an interesting series but the Raptors are too deep to pass on.
Prediction: Raptors 4-2
No. 3 Boston Celtics vs. No. 6 Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers have not enjoyed bubble life, no Ben Simmons sees their playoff hopes slashed enormously. Joel Embiid is now tasked with carrying Philadelphia’s hopes, while his record is better when Simmons is out it’s hard to see him beating the Celtics alone.
Boston will look to double team Embiid and then use their depth to hurt the 76ers through the series, Philly will be competitive but will depart.
Prediction: Celtics 4-1
No. 4 Miami Heat vs. No. 5 Indiana Pacers
The Miami Heat come into this series the healthier of the two rosters, Indiana have battled injuries all season and it may come back to bite them now. Expect a professional and ruthless display from Jimmy Butler has he chases success, could be a good series but Heat should have too much.
Prediction: Heat 4-2
No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers vs. No .8 Portland Trail Blazers
The most entertaining series of the first round without a doubt. Lebron and Anthony Davis begin their quest to bring a championship back to Los Angeles with so much emotion riding on it. At the other end of the floor Damien Lillard is arguably the best player in the game at the moment and if not, is the best scorer. Lillard loves the big stage and this is a chance to make a huge statement.
Lillard hit the nail on the head when talking about the Lakers.
“They’re the No. 1 seed in the West for a reason,” Lillard said after their win over Memphis. “They’ve got the best player in the world on their team. But at the same time, we didn’t fight as hard as we thought in the bubble to just say, ‘All right, we’re the eighth seed’ and just go out here and get beat up on.
Prediction: Lakers 4-2
No. 2 LA Clippers vs. No. 7 Dallas Mavericks
Luke Doncic featuring in the playoffs will be a true show, when one of the league’s better and more creative scorers gets to show his stuff, it’ll be fun viewing. However, he faces two of the league’s best defenders in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
Seems like too much will depend on Doncic and it’s going to be hard work to put up series winning numbers with the Clippers defence in his face.
Prediction: Clippers 4-1
No. 3 Denver Nuggets vs. No. 6 Utah Jazz
It’s a battle of two of the best big men in the league as Rudy Gobert and Nikola Jokic face off. A lot depends on this matchup, but the Nuggets have more depth and will be hoping that sees them through a tricky first round.
Utah’s hopes rest on being able to run Jokic around on his defensive end and not allowing him to rest for an offensive burst to get moving.
Prediction: Nuggets 4-2
No. 4 Houston Rockets vs. No. 5 Oklahoma City Thunder
The script writers got their pens out for this one, however Houston may not have read it as Russell Westbrook may not feature in the series at all. Houston are undersized and rely heavily on their offensive game to beat teams.
They will be hoping for early wins to be able to rest Westbrook ahead of the second round, early losses could be crippling.
Prediction: Houston 4-3