After what seemed like an eternity throughout the regular season, the COVI-19 break and the season restart, the NBA Playoffs are finally upon us! With the first round matchups now set in stone, the action gets underway on Tuesday and we have a full preview and betting tips for all four series in the Eastern Conference below!
Remember, we’ll have a full preview and betting tips for EVERY series throughout the NBA Playoffs and Finals, so make sure you check out our NBA Betting Tips page for regular updates.
Game 1, Wednesday 3.30am (AEST)
The Bucks finished the season with the best record in the league once again this year and will face off against the 8th seeded Orlando Magic starting Wednesday. Star bucks forward Giannis Antetokounpo will likely win his second straight MVP award and this season and will lead the Bucks into the playoffs hoping to do at least one better than their Conference Finals exit at the hands of the Raptors last season.
The Magic were dealt some massive blows in the NBA restart, most notably losing exciting young forward Jonathan Isaac to a season ending knee injury. Isaac was without doubt the Magic’s number one perimeter defender, and losing him will leave them with limited players who can matchup on Antetokounmpo. If they are to be competitive at all, Aaron Gordon will need to step up on defence.
Can’t see the Magic being too much of a problem for the Bucks here. Milwaukee breezed past the Pistons in the first round of the playoffs last season in a 4-0 score-line and we expect this to be a similar result. Bucks in four or five looks to be the play.
Game 1, Tuesday 6.30am (AEST)
It’s amazing that the Nets have been as successful as they have in the NBA restart. You couldn’t blame them if they just wanted to get this season over with as they entered the Orlando bubble without Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, Michael Beasley, Spencer Dinwiddie and Wilson Chanlder. However, with a bunch of stand-in players, the Nets have won five of seven games in the restart with one still to play at the time or writing.
The Raptors will look to defend their NBA championship this post-season and should enter it with a clean bill of health, which is arguably the most important thing for this team that has a few aging veterans. Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Kyle Lowry have all battled injuries throughout the successful Raptors run, but combined with young stars Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby, they’ll be the driving force of the title defence.
Again, as good as the Nets have been since the season restarted, the playoffs is a different kettle of fish, and we just can’t see them troubling a star-studded Raptors line-up with what is essentially a bunch of scrap-part players. We think the Raptors win this series pretty comfortably.
Game 1, Tuesday 8.30am (AEST)
The Celtics have a good blend of exciting young players and solid veterans at the moment and if they stay healthy, we could see them challenging for the Eastern Conference. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are some of the most talented youngsters in the league while Gordon Hayward and Kemba Walker are extremely reliable when fit. The thing the Celtics lack is a solid defensive big man, which could bite them in this series.
In the absence of starting point guard Ben Simmons, who will be out for the season with an injured knee, the 76ers will be led by all-star centre Joel Embiid. The big man has been dominant since the season restarted, particularly his 41 point, 21 rebound performance against the Pacers in the first game back. In games where he has played at least 30 minutes since the season restarted, the Embiid is averaging 30.0 points and 10.0 rebounds per game, and will be salivating at the matchup against the lack of Celtics defensive bigs.
Critics think that the 76ers will stand no chance without Simmons but we actually think that levels the playing field. This will be a much closer series than people are expecting, particularly with the Celtics lacking reliable defensive options for Embiid. As long as Embiid stays healthy, we can see this series going to at least six games.
Game 1, Wednesday 6am (AEST)
The Heat have been one of the most surprising teams of the 2019-20 season. After trading for Jimmy Butler in the off-season, everyone expected them to be fighting for the Eastern Conference playoffs. However, with the emergence of young stars Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro, the Heat now look like real contenders in the east.
The Pacers were without one of their most important players in Domantis Sabonis for the NBA bubble, but swing-man T.J. Warren picked up the scoring slack, exploding for 31.0 points and 6.3 rebounds per game including a monster 53 point game. Sabonis will be out for the start of this series too, but should return if the series goes to extended games.
Really tough one to call here. We think these two teams are so evenly matched both on paper and on the court. We would potentially give the Pacers the slight edge upon the return of Sabonis, but they have to get their first. Both teams have enough firepower on offence to win multiple games here, expect this series to go at least six.
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