(Photo from AP Images)
The NBA playoffs are finally upon us. It’s an exciting time in sports as everybody prepares to see who will hold the Larry O’Brien trophy this season. Will we have a fourth straight Warriors-Cavs (probably since the NBA gods hate us) or will Skip Bayless finally get something right and Westbrook will get that ring. Adam and Jake predict each matchup of the 2018 playoffs.
1 Toronto Raptors vs 8 Washington Wizards
Adam: The Raptors have always seemed to have it rough in the playoffs. No matter how good the team, they always get kicked early. This year though, just seems different. Demar DeRozan has solidified himself as one of the best shooting guards in the game, Kyle Lowry has looked like his all-star self, and the big man duo of Jonas Valanciunas and Serge Ibaka has Toronto fans thinking finals. They will destroy a discombobulated Wizards team, and get to the semis.
Raptors in 5
Jake: The Raptors are a notorious choker in the playoffs, lucky for them they matchup with the Wizards who have battled internal drama all season. Demar DeRozan is an established all-star, paired with Kyle Lowry the Raptors have a deadly backcourt. With Serge Ibaka down low, the Raptors shouldn’t have any problems with the Wizards
Raptors in 5
4 Cleveland Cavaliers vs 5 Indiana Pacers
Adam: The Pacers looked like they were destined for a long season after trading Paul George in a trade that, at the time, looked like highway robbery for the Thunder. Instead, that trade may have given the team their franchise player in Victor Oladipo. Oladipo led the Pacers to the playoffs where they will meet up with an underachieving Cavalier team, who enjoyed a MVP-caliber season by LeBron James. The Pacers are going to be a great team, but not just yet.
Cavs in 6
Jake: The Pacers may be the biggest surprise of the season. Led and carried by all-star Victor Oladipo, who averaged 23 points per game this season. The Cavs on the other hand are led by the pound for pound best player on the planet LeBron James, who nearly averaged a triple-double this season. Averaging 27.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, 9.2 assists per game. Will the King be dethroned by Oladipo? I say so.
Pacers in 7
3 Philadelphia 76ers vs 6 Miami Heat
Adam: The process is complete. A team with Markelle Fultz, Ben Simmons, and Joel Embiid, the Sixers have built arguably the best young team in basketball. A 16-game win streak has brought them into the spotlight, and they’ve earned it. They will breeze through a Miami team that has no one to stop Simmons.
Sixers in 5
Jake: This may be the most intriguing matchup in the first round. Ben Simmons, and Joel Embiid lead the 76ers, against the well-balanced Heat. Simmons is a front-runner for rookie of the year. Embiid is arguably the best big man in the league when he’s healthy, averaging 22.9 points per game, to go along with 11.2 rebounds. When he gets back from an orbital fracture, he will matchup with Hassan Whiteside, in what is sure to be an entertaining matchup (Check out their Twitter beef). Sixers will take down the Heat in an entertaining series
Sixers in 6
2 Boston Celtics vs 7 Milwaukee Bucks
Adam: The Boston Celtics have one of the best rosters in the game. Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown all have the pieces to lead this team to a championship. The only problem? Irving and Hayward are out for at least the first round. The seventh-seeded Milwaukee Bucks are far from a great team, but they may have a top-5 player in basketball in Giannis Antetokounmpo, who will lead this team past the Celtics into a matchup in Philly.
Bucks in 7
Jake: The Boston Celtics season was derailed by Kyrie Irving suffering season-ending knee surgery. Gordon Hayward endured a gruesome broken ankle in the season opener. The Celtics are still a team that can make some noise, without their two super-stars. The Bucks have been a major disappointment this season, however; Giannis Antetokounmpo has not. Antetokounmpo averaged 26.9 points per game, to go along with 10 rebounds per contest. The Bucks will squeak past the Celtics.
Bucks in 7
1 Houston Rockets vs 8 Minnesota Timberwolves
Adam: The Rockets have been the best team in basketball all year, but with such a deep western conference, they have to face a real good team in the Minnesota Timberwolves. It won’t matter though, as James Harden is too good for the Wolves.
Rockets in 6
Jake: The Timberwolves are another team that failed to live up to lofty expectations this season. Led by Jimmy Butler, Karl Anthony-Towns, and Andrew Wiggins it feels like the Wolves should be a much higher seed. The Rockets on the other hand have been unstoppable this season led by MVP front-runner James Harden, who pairs with former all-star Chris Paul, and newcomer Clint Capella. Harden will be too much for the Wolves in this one.
Rockets in 5
4 Oklahoma City Thunder vs 5 Utah Jazz
Adam: Neither of the five seeds are nearly as talented as the four seeds. The Pacers and Jazz both wowed the world by having such surprising seasons led by their young stars, Victor Oladipo for Indiana and Donovan Mitchell for Utah. The struggles of depth for the Jazz will be shown, and the Thunder’s additions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony will work out.
Thunder in 6
Jake; How about Donovan Mitchell?? This kid has been INSANE this season. The marquee matchup of this series is Russell Westbrook, taking on Donovan Mitchell. Both teams have depth issues, the Thunder have the better starting five by far, but Donovan Mitchell is special, I expect him to put the Jazz on his back, and will them to victory over the Thunder.
Jazz in 7
3 Portland Trail Blazers vs 6 New Orleans Pelicans
Adam: This is going to be a GREAT series. The Blazers are led by phenomenal guard play in Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, and NOLA has the game’s best power forward in Anthony Davis. If Demarcus Cousins was playing, the Pelicans would drive right through Portland, but with him out, the series will go seven…
Pelicans in 7
Jake: The Pelicans were a surprise this season. Anthony Davis is a straight monster. Missing Demarcus Cousins is killing them right now. The Blazers have Damian Lillard has been electric this season, and paired with C.J. McCollum they sport one of the best backcourts in the league. Their “run and gun” style of play will catch up with them, as the Pelicans will power their way to round two.
Pelicans in 6
2 Golden State Warriors vs 7 San Antonio Spurs
Adam: The Spurs-Kawhi relationship is broken. No one knows if he’s healthy, but he’s not playing. If he was on the court this would be a much more competitive series. He’s not, and the Warriors may be missing Curry, but they still have one of the best rosters in NBA history.
Warriors in 4
Jake: No Kawhi Leonard for the Spurs = no chance of beating the Warriors. Plain and simple. Even with no Steph Curry, the Warriors should roll the Spurs with no issues, as they sport not only the league’s best roster, but one of the best in league history.
Warriors in 4