After a thrilling finish to the regular season it’s now time to get excited for the NBA Playoffs! Here we’re previewing the first round matchups taking place in the Eastern Conference, whichkicks off on Sunday the 15th of April.
Be sure to follow my new Twitter account @SmitTips for all things NBA playoffs! I might only be tipping the series results in this article but I'll be tweeting game by game tips for every game of the 2018 NBA Playoffs series!
The Raptors have surprised a lot of people this year with their improvement from the prior season, despite the majority of their list staying the same. Coach Dwayne Casey has done a terrific job changing the game plan and getting everyone engaged in defence, as well as finding a second unit that offers little drop off in production when they replace the starters.
The Wizards have had a solid season and managed to scrape into the playoffs, despite John Wall being sidelined for the most part. Bradley Beal has had to do most of the heavy lifting for the Wizards, with Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre Jr. chipping in from time to time.
The Raptors and Wizards played out an entertaining season series, with the tie ending 2-2. However, the Raptors come into this first round meeting with better form and home-court advantage.
The Celtics have endured by far the worst luck out of any team in the league this season. They lost Gordon Hayward just minutes into the first game of the season and have now lost Kyrie Irving for the playoffs. However, Coach Brad Stevens manages to bring competitiveness to every game regardless of the personnel he has available and we expect the playoffs to be no different.
The Bucks have gone through their fair share of changes this season. With the firing of Jason Kidd, the return of Jabari Parker and the mid-season acquisition of Eric Bledsoe, the Bucks have certainly had to scrap their way into the playoff mix. Although it seems like it is starting to come together for the Bucks and superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo looks primed to announce himself on the big stage.
The Celtics are arguably without their 2 best players and we feel that they may see an early exit, despite being the 2 seed.
Perhaps the most exciting tie in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs is the 76ers VS Heat. The looks to have certainly paid off for the Sixers, as they are not only set to make the playoffs in years, but they also have home-court advantage. Ben Simmons has been phenomenal in his rookie season, whilst Joel Embiid was an all-star in his sophomore year.
The Heat organization has done an exceptional job in the 2017/18 season to make the playoffs for another year, despite having one of the lesser known rosters in the league. They play a fantastic team brand of basketball led by point guard Goran Dragic and big man Hassan Whiteside, who have both put together solid season’s.
The Sixers ended the season on a 16-game winning streak and we can see that continuing for at least a couple more games.
The Cavs have had a disappointing year by their standards, but still managed to cruise to the playoffs in the 4 seed. LeBron James will be looking to make it to an incredible 7 straight finals series, but this season looms as one of the biggest challenges for the King in recent memory.
The Pacers are another team that has exceeded expectations to make this year’s post-season. Noone saw the improvement from Victor Oladipo coming, making the all-star game for the first time and replacing Paul George’s productivity almost perfectly. However, they face an extremely tough first round matchup and will need to play out of their skin in order to advance against the King.
Although we feel that LeBron and the Cavs will advance, we can see this one being a lot closer than most people think.
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