With the regular season over, the seeds are decided. We now know which teams play each other and their likely path to the Conference Finals. The Eastern Conference seeds had been decided quite some time ago. The Toronto Raptors, who had a franchise record 59 wins have the best record among Eastern Conference teams. Six teams participated in the 2017 Playoffs. Philadelphia and Miami are new from last season.
The Predictions for the Eastern Conference Playoffs are:
First Round Playoffs
Toronto Raptors (1) vs Washington Wizards (8)
Regular Season record: 2-2
This match up will be in favour of the Raptors. Not only have they taken home court advantage, their squad is the best rested. On top of that, the 2nd unit of the Raptors is the best in the league and is capable of holding their own. As such, different combinations of the line ups can be run. The Raptors have a better home record and road record than the Wizards.
John Wall, as talented as he is not back at his best. Beal and Otto Potter Jr. have to take on a lot of the offensive load if they want to win. However, the new culture of the Raptors have made them a tight knit squad.
This series will be taken by Toronto in 5 games
Verdict: Toronto Raptors 4 – 1 Washington Wizards
Cleveland Cavaliers (4) vs Indiana Pacers (5)
Regular Season Record: Indiana 3 – 1 Cleveland
A repeat of the first round matchup of last season. The Pacers play their first post season game without George, but have done an admirable job to reach the 5th seed. The regular season record favours Indiana but the Playoffs will prefer Cleveland.
LeBron James is the reason. The King turns it up during the playoffs. His will to win alone can inspire his team. With the Cavaliers having got some chemistry between their new teammates and know what it takes to make a deep playoff run.
Oladipo, Turner and the Pacers can put up a challenge, so did the Pacers last season. Expect a playoff series sweep.
Verdict: Cleveland Cavaliers 4 – 0 Indiana Pacers
Philadelphia 76ers (3) vs Miami Heat (6)
Regular Season record: 2 – 2
An interesting playoffs match-ups. The 76ers not only returned to the playoffs, but the ‘process’ has seen them take 3rd seed in the East with over 50 wins. Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid are genuine all-star calibre players. Reddick, Saric and Covington had career best seasons. They have added bench depth as well, with Fultz, McConnell as well.
The Heat on the other hand are an evenly matched side for them. The heat do not have one or two genuine super stars on their roster. Just, a mix of good players who all perform what’s needed. This includes Kelly Olynk, Dragic, and Whiteside among others. The return of Wade gives the heat a leader who has NBA playoff experience.
The deciding factor of this match up will be when Embiid returns. He is set to miss the first match. If he can return from matches 2 onwards, the tide should turn in the 76ers favour. If not, the Heat will take it. He is set to return on match 2-3 hopefully.
Verdict: 76ers 4 – 2 Miami
Boston Celtics (2) vs Milwaukee Bucks (7)
Regular Season record: 2 – 2
Were it not for their injuries, this would be a first round playoffs sweep for Boston. Since Hayward, Irving, Smart are key players that are unavailable, this series will not be in Boston’s favour. While Taytum, Hoford, Morris, Larkin and Rozier have all stepped up, it will not be enough.
The Bucks have the Greek freak, Giannis leading them. The forward is a complete all-round player who will be free to play long minutes per game. Jabari Parker is returning to health and Bledsoe has been a good player for the Bucks this season. These 3 will be enough to tilt this series in favour of the Bucks.
It’s an unlikely scenario for the available Celtics roster to win this series. It’s just too much. They might take a couple of games at the best.
Verdict: Milwaukee 4 – 2 Celtics