The stage is set! The season we thought was over has returned back to normal … well somewhat normal. After 8 games to determine who gets to play in the playoffs, the bracket and seedings are finalized. Coming out of the Western Conference from 1st – 8th seed: Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Utah Jazz, Dallas Mavericks, and Portland Trail Blazers. From the Eastern Conference from 1st – 8th seed: Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, and Orlando Magic. Let’s see who we think will come out of the first round (Lakers fan’s opinion beware).
Lakers Vs. Trail Blazers
The Trail Blazers barely won their playoffs spot with their victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. The Blazer’s stars, Carmelo Anthony, Jusuf Nurkic, CJ McCollum, and Damian Lillard, combined for a total of 103 points. Big respect and condolences to Jusuf Nurkic, playing off the news of the passing of his grandmother and putting up a 20-20 game. Damian Lillard willed his team to victory and will no doubt lead his team in the playoffs. But the Lakers is the clear favorite with Lebron and A.D. leading the team. And hopefully Lebron can bring up his level of play since he has been struggling in the Bubble. But with Lebron’s success in the playoffs and Blazer’s struggle in the playoffs, the Lakers are the clear favorites in this series so, … Lakers in 4 chop chop!!
Rockets Vs. Thunder
Nobody expected the Thunder to make the playoffs this year since they lost Russell Westbrook and Paul George and acquired an aging Chris Paul. But under the leadership of Chris Paul and a great young player in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the Thunder proved everybody wrong and made it to the 5th seed. The Rockets however are hungry to win. The Rockets is a great team and is always expected to go far in the playoffs, and it’s no different this year. With James Harden playing at a ridiculous offensive level and Westbrook on the team, the Rockets are going to play at a constant fast past. But, experience is more valuable than talent. So the Thunder could give the Rockets a run for their money. I could see this series going to a game 6 or 7 with the Rockets coming out on top.
Nuggets Vs. Jazz
I don’t have much opinion on this series. Both teams are solid teams so it’s hard to say who will come out on top. Even though the Nuggets is a 3rd seed team, they have been underwhelming in the playoffs. The same can be said about the Jazz. They never get far in the playoffs. Well whichever team wins will have to face either the Clippers or the Mavericks … basically the Clippers. But I would say the Nuggets in 6.
Clippers Vs. Mavericks
The Clippers is the deepest team in the NBA. Their bench could be a starting lineup on any team in the NBA. With their stars Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers excel in both defense and offense. The Mavericks is a good team led by a young star in Luka Doncic. I can’t see the Mavericks taking more than 1 game from the Clippers. Clippers in 5 … chop chop.
Bucks Vs. Magic
Giannis in 4 … not much to say. Chop Chop!!
Pacers vs Miami
Probably one of the most exciting series in the first round, since TJ Warren of the Pacers and Jimmy Butler of the Heat has a long standing beef this season. TJ Warren was one of the candidates for the Bubble’s MVP. He was a scoring machine for a stretch of games until he played against the Heat. He didn’t play the same MVP level against Jimmy Butler. Butler is one of the league’s best defender and in my opinion, one of the best team leader. Miami was a underdog this season but Butler managed to help bring Miami to the 5th seed. The Pacers however got back one of their star player, Victor Oladipo. Even though Oladipo haven’t been playing as the same level he was playing when he got injured, it is still a scary thought to have that kind of player on the opposing team. This series is the must watch in the first round since I believe this series will go to 7 games with Miami coming out.
Celtics Vs. 76ers
The 76ers and the Celtics are great teams with plenty of young stars on their roster. The Celtics are led by Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Gordon Hayward. The 76ers are led by Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, and Al Horford. This series is packed with stars and talent and would’ve been a more exciting series to watch. Unfortunately, Ben Simmons is out for the series with a knee injury. Even though the Celtics may struggle with containing Joel Embiid, I cannot see the 76ers overtaking the Celtics. I say the Celtics will take the series in 6.
Raptors Vs. Nets
Even though the Raptors lost a star player in Kawhi Leonard, people expected to drop in seeding. But despite the set back, they still managed to place 2nd in the East over the Celtics and 76ers. Even though the Raptors’ star players are Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam, the Raptors is a strong team oriented team with a strong coach in this year’s potential Coach of the Year, Nick Nurse. The Nets is a good team, but they lost to many players for me to consider them a strong contender, especially against the Raptors. So, Raptors will most definitely sweep this series!
We appreciate y’all for letting us be a part of your Break Time.
Signing off, JT