basketball

The NBA playoff picture now set

With the playoff seeds now set, we'll run down the match-ups and take a look what to watch for in the first round.


Kahron Spearman


The NBA Playoffs officially begins this Saturday, April 14, and here are the final seeding/matchups for the first round.

 

Eastern Conference:

No. 1 Toronto Raptors vs. No. 8 Washington Wizards (prediction: Raptors in five)

No. 2 Boston Celtics vs. No. 7 Milwaukee Bucks (prediction: Celtics in six)

No. 3 Philadelphia 76ers vs. No. 6 Miami Heat (prediction: Sixers in five)

No. 4 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. No. 5 Indiana Pacers (prediction: Cavs in six)        

 

Western Conference:

No. 1 Houston Rockets vs. No. 8 Minnesota Timberwolves (prediction: Rockets in five)

No. 2 Golden State Warriors vs. No. 7 San Antonio Spurs (prediction: Dubs in six)

No. 3 Portland Trail Blazers vs. No. 6 New Orleans Pelicans (prediction: Blazers in seven)

No. 4 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. No. 5 Utah Jazz (prediction:Jazz in seven)

4. Cleveland Cavaliers vs. 5. Indiana Pacers

This matchup wasn't selected because there will be an upset (there won't be) or just on listing LeBron James for the sake of mentioning him. 

 

This will be the first time some significant players for the Cavs will play meaningful playoff minutes - or the first they've ever played. Cleveland will need Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood, Cedi Osman, and Larry Nance Jr. to grow up and do so quickly.

 

As they say, there are levels to this, and the intensity/scrutiny of playoff atmosphere will either shape up the Cavs or further illuminate the fact they've been thrown together with too little time to gel and too little defense to compete.

Up up and away!!! Lets continue to travel to parts unknown.

No. 4 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. No. 5 Utah Jazz

Since probable Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert returned from injury, the Jazz has given up just 95.9 points per 100 possessions the lowest in the league, per NBA.com.

 

The data suggests the Thunder are going to have to be much more efficient for a seven-game series than they've been for an entire regular season, which is difficult to see happening. OKC could overwhelm with their great talent, especially with a strong individual effort from Westbrook and George. But Carmelo Anthony still starts, and he's still one of the worst defenders in the league, a negative compounded by his awful shooting percentages. 

 

Plus, with Andre Roberson out, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell won't have the resistance he otherwise would have.

SOU  RCES