The regular season is a finished and we're ready for playoff basketball. The Eastern Conference has some intriguing matchups and potential upsets to watch for. How far will the Sixers go? Will Milwaukee upset Boston? Can Indiana give Cleveland a run for their money? Join me in previewing the conference that is wide open for the taking.
Toronto Vs Washington- The Wizards got off to a good start and have since been an afterthought with star player John Wall missing considerable time during the season. The Wizards simply don’t have the depth to compete in this series, after Wall Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr; Washington doesn’t have anything close resembling enough to compete with Toronto in this series. Kelly Oubre Jr and Tomas Satoransky are the only guys that can help win a game off the bench. Washington hasn’t done enough to address their biggest weakness from last year’s playoff run causing them to have no chance in this series.
Toronto is the top seed in the East and deservingly so. DeMar DeRozan played at an almost superstar level and Kyle Lowry still has enough in the tank left to make a significant impact in this year’s playoff run. The real factor in this series that will favor Toronto is Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas should have their way with Marcin Gortat down low. Toronto’s second unit will torch Washington without looking back making this an easy series for Toronto to advance. Leaving Wall mad that his roster isn’t going anywhere or changing anytime soon. Toronto wins 4-0
Cleveland Vs Indiana- The surprise team in the East this season has been the Pacers. Highlighted by Victor Oladipo turning into an all-star and the Pacers front office looking good after sending their best player to Oklahoma City. Indiana is a confusing team to figure out with a solid starting five but a bench that isn’t scaring anyone. Nate McMillian will have to be creative with his lineups and hope that Thaddeus Young brings the defense to contain LeBron or this will be a quick series. Indiana won’t be able to relay on Oladipo and Myles Turner to carry them to a series win and will come up short.
It’s all LeBron all the time in this series. Kevin Love looks healthy and will put up big numbers vs a Pacers team that won’t have someone able handle him all series with the attention stuck on LeBron. Cleveland has an experienced bench and the right amount youth after the deadline deals they made. Expect Rodney Hood and Kyle Korver to have big games throughout the series knocking down wide open threes. The luxury of putting George Hill on Oladipo all series will give Indiana a lot of problems forcing someone else to beat them and it won’t happen. Cleveland coughs one game on the road but will take the series handily. Cleveland wins 4-1
Philadelphia Vs Miami- The surprising division champs of the Southeast is poised for a round one upset of a Sixers team anointed to get to the Eastern Finals. Miami is a formidable opponent and is not your typical lower seeded team. The Heat are filled with good veterans and lineups that can be troublesome to opposing teams. Look for the Heat to play terrific defense and Whiteside to dominate while Joel Embiid is out due to injury. Josh Richardson and James Johnson will share a lot of responsibility guarding Ben Simmons and they will give him fits all series.
Philly is on a long winning streak and playing the best basketball heading into the playoffs. Ben Simmons will be the focal point of the offense while Embiid waits to get healthy. Philly has enough offensive firepower to counteract Miami’s good defense. Look for Robert Covington and Dario Saric to have a good series due to Miami having to pay so much attention to Simmons. This will be a closely contested series that will go the full seven games. Philadelphia wins 4-3
Milwaukie Vs Boston- the Bucks have stumbled heading into the postseason, but just drew the one matchup they could have asked for to be able to get out of the first round. When firing on all cylinders Milwaukie can provide elite level defense lead by superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo and borderline all-star Eric Bledsoe. Mix the defense in with enough fast break opportunities and some outside shooting and you have a team that is ready to upset the higher seed.
Injuries are the name of the game when it comes to the Celtics. Without their two best players Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward Boston is depleted and having to rely on a star player who isn’t built to carry a team in Al Horford and good young players that aren’t ready for the spotlight. Going up against a Milwaukie team that can stifle you defensively and this series could get out of hand in a hurry. Look for Boston to struggle on offense and Milwaukie to move on in six games. Milwaukie wins 4-2