The NBA playoffs kick off today starting with the Spurs @ Warriors at 3 pm followed by the Wizards @ Raptors at 5pm, Heat @ 76ers 8pm, Pelicans @ Trail Blazers. Sunday your slate of games goes as follows Bucks @ Celtics 1pm, Pacers @ Cavs 3:30 pm, Jazz @ Thunder 6:30 PM and Twolves @ Rockets 9 pm. Here are our first round predictions in which should be a very entertaining playoff series.
Spurs @ Warriors- This series has the best pedigree in terms of team history between the two of them but both squads are banged up. Kawhi Leonard is out and so is Steph Curry. Kawhi being out is a much bigger deal for the Spurs than Steph being out for the Warriors. The Warriors just simply are too deep and talented even without Steph Curry for the Kawhi less Spurs to match up with.
Prediction 4-1 Warriors Win
Wizards @ Raptors– The Wizards are slightly banged up with Otto Porter questionable for Game 1 and Mike Scott coming off a concussion. The good news for the Wizards is they will have John Wall after he missed most of the regular season with a knee injury. The Raptors once again had a great regular season and now will look to take that next step as a franchise and reach a NBA Final. I think they escape this series but not without sweating it out especially if Porter can get out there. The Wizards match up well with the Raptors and are one of the few teams that can match the scoring output of the Raptors back-court. The Raptors though are more seasoned overall and slightly deeper and the Porter Injury is a concern
Prediction Raptors 4-3 Win
Heat @ 76ers– Basically to me this series is going to come down to the ability of Joel Embiid to take the court. If he plays Sixers win if he does not Sixers lose. He does not even have to nessarily play well but his presence alone changes the series. Both of these teams are on the rise in the East and this could very well become a long term rivalry over the next few seasons. The Hassan Whiteside vs Joel Emiid matchup is the key to this series and if Joel Emiid is not out there I think HassanWhiteside has no deterrent and can dominate a series easily and if he gets confident early he is hard to stop. At the end of the day I see no way Emiid misses every game so with that in mind I think the Sixers are slightly deeper and more talented overall, but it is close.
Prediction- 76ers 4-3 Win
Pelicans @ Trail Blazer– Anthony Davis is a monster, but the Blazers are the Kryptonite to a team like the Pelicans. The Pelicans are not every athletic besides Davis and do not shoot the ball all that well from the perimeter. They had the right configuration early in the year, but then Demarcus Cousins went down and I do not feel they did enough to fix their perimeter issues or athleticism issues. The Blazers to me are the mini Warriors and Damien Lillard is a baller and big game player. I think that is enough to get them through to the second round.
Prediction Blazers 4-2 Win
Bucks @ Celtics- I hate the Celtics, but even as a Knick fan I feel bad for Kyrie. I wanted to see him take on LeBron James. That is now obviously not going to happen and he got hurt to late for the Celtics to add other pieces. The Bucks on the other hand did fire Jason Kidd Mid-Season and I think it was a smart move long-term even though the Greek Freak was upset. This should be a pretty close series overall, but I think the Celtics can squeak out a win.
Prediction Celtics 4-2 Win
Pacers @ Cavs- This is easy. LeBron James does not lose these type of series. End of story
Prediction Cavs 4-0 win
Jazz @ Thunder- This is a good series as two different styles clash. The Jazz want to grind it out and play defense while the Thunder want to score. I think overall Paul George and Russell Westbrook are too much for the Jazz to handle over the course of the series and the Jazz have to hard of a time scoring at times.
Prediction Thunder 4-1 Win
Twolves @ Rockets- The Rockets are ready to win a championship and the Twolves are a few years away but are on the right track. This is just a buzzsaw matchup for the young Twolves, but a good learning experience. I think they clip one game at home but that is all as the Rockets are just too much right now for pretty much any team.
Prediction Rockets 4-1 Win