After what seemed like an eternity, the NBA playoffs have finally arrived. For most fans, not soon enough!
While last years seemed like a two-horse race between our hometown Cleveland Cavaliers and the 73-win Golden State Warriors, this season’s post season does not seem as clean cut. In fact, the Cavaliers are not even the one seed in the Eastern Conference. Nothing appears to be a sure thing and it should make for a wild and exciting next couple of months!
Without further ado, lets breakdown the first round starting in the Eastern Conference.
1 Seed Boston Celtics vs 8 seed Chicago Bulls
The Celtics are not the typical one seed, as the Bulls are not the typical 8 seed. A healthy and motivated Bulls team can be very dangerous. They excel at prime-time games when the nation is watching, and the NBA playoffs are all about performing under the brightest of lights.
The Celtics clearly win the award for the leagues most improved team this season, and head coach Brad Stevens has all but locked up the coach of the year honors. At 53-29 they have proven they could beat anyone. Isiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and Al Horford may not be the “Big 3” that led them to the championship in 2008, but will be good enough to get them past a pesky Bulls team this year.
Prediction – Celtics in 5
2 Seed Cleveland Cavaliers vs 7 seed Indiana Pacers
No one has any clue what Cavaliers team will show up in this series. Making matters worse is their putrid record against the Pacers over the years. Sharp shooting Paul George is just aching to lead his team in a first-round stunning upset against the shaky champions.
It won’t happen as the Cavaliers will finally wake up, and just in the nick of time to begin the defense of their title. They are healthy, they are embarrassed and let’s just hope for their sake, they are finally focused. As shown, when they are focused, they are close to unbeatable.
Prediction – Cavaliers in 6
3 Seed Toronto Raptors vs 6 seed Milwaukee Bucks
The Toronto Raptors got over the hump many ways last season in the playoffs. Getting past the first round and even the second round, then pushing Cleveland to six games in the Eastern Conference Finals. They are even better this season and will have no problems with the low scoring Bucks.
Prediction – Toronto Raptors in 4
4 seeded Washington Wizards vs 5 Seed Atlanta Hawks
A focused and aggressive Wizards team can make a long run in these playoffs. They are heavy with scoring talent in the form of 2nd overall in shooting percentage, 5th in points scored and 8th in three-point percentage. They can and will outscore anyone in the league. While most eyes will be on leading scorer John Wall (as well they should be), Otto Porter and Bradley Beal will crush defenses as well.
There is no doubt in my mind the Wizards cruise by the Hawks with ease in the first round, and then give the Celtics everything they can handle in the second round, pushing them to seven.
Prediction – Wizards in 4