The postseason is finally here after an incredibly close season. Here’s a look at the first round match ups.
#1. Milwaukee Bucks VS. #8. Detroit Pistons
First seed, Bucks will take on eighth seed, Pistons this Sunday, April 12th at 7 pm Eastern on TNT. The Bucks have swept the season series with the Pistons 4-0. Three of those games were won by double digits. This is the Pistons first playoff appearance since 2016 and they haven’t won a playoff game since the 2008 conference finals. Pistons PF, Blake Griffin was out in Wednesdays game with a knee injury. The Pistons will need a healthy Griffin to compete against the Bucks.
#2. Toronto Raptors VS. #7. Orlando Magic
The Raptors are back in the playoffs this year with another high seed, coming in second. Last year, They were first seed and were swept in the playoff series against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Raptors have rebuilt the team and are looking strong going into the post season. They will play the Orlando Magic in the first round. The past six seasons have been rough on the Magic but they turned things around this year. In the regular season, The Magic went 2-2 with Raptors. They will play Game 1 this Saturday at 4 pm. Central on ESPN.
#3. Philadelphia 76ers VS. #6. Brooklyn Nets
Division Rivals, 76ers and the Nets will face off this Saturday at 1:30 pm on ESPN. The regular season series was split at 2-2. Although the 76ers have the higher seed and play exceptionally well defensively against the Nets, They might be missing star player, Joel Embiid. He sat out multiple games late in the regular season for load management and left knee soreness. The Nets are coming off a three game win streak to close out the season. This is a tough match up on both sides.
#4. Boston Celtics VS. #5. Indiana Pacers
Boston will host Game 1 of the playoff series against the Pacers this Sunday at 12 pm on TNT. Boston won the regular season series against the Pacers 3-1. Boston’s, Marcus Smart will miss this series with an torn oblique. The Pacers will need to use this to their advantage to try and score on the Celtics. They will need Bojan Bogdanovic to go on an offensive drive. The Pacers have been missing Victor Oladipo because of a ruptured quad tendon. He will miss the rest of the season.
#1. Golden State Warriors VS. #8. LA Clippers
The Warriors take on the Clippers this Saturday at 7 pm on ABC. These teams matched up last Sunday, in a foreboding loss for the Clippers by 27 points. The Warriors were 3-1 this season against the clippers. Steph Curry had a minor ankle sprain this past week but is expected to be back for Game 1. As the underdogs, the Clippers will need to utilize Lou Williams, who isn’t on the starting line up, but one of their best scorers. Patrick Beverly and Montrezl Harrell are great defenders and rebounders. They will all need to be on top of their game going against this reigning NBA Champions.
#2. Denver Nuggets VS. #7. San Antonio Spurs
After a tied series of 2-2, the Nuggets will take on the Spurs this Saturday at 9:30 pm on ESPN. Both teams excelled at home games this year. The Nuggets having the NBA-Best of 34-7 were closely followed by the Spurs at 32-9. Unfortunately for the Spurs, Denver will have the home court advantage to start. Denver has held 2nd seed for most of the season. They have more depth and more talent than the Spurs but they are the youngest roster and will be playing against veterans.
#3. Portland Trail Blazers VS. #6. Oklahoma City Thunder
This is probably one of the better match ups for the first round. Oklahoma City were great contenders for the majority of the regular season, steadily at 3rd seed until recently. After a few rough games with bad passes and a much slower pace, the fell as low as 8th seed. The Trail Blazers have been steady all season, between 4th and 6th seed. The West was so close this season and they were able to seal the third seed with their last game of the season in a 5 point win over the Sacramento Kings. The Trail Blazers suffered a devastating loss this season when their center Jusuf Nurkic was injured. Enes Kanter has stepped up in his place. The Thunder’s Paul George has been playing through left shoulder pain. He is a star player for the Thunder and he will definitely be needed during this playoff series. These teams face each other this Sunday at 2:30 pm on ABC.
#4. Houston Rockets VS. #5. Utah Jazz
The Rockets will face the Jazz this Sunday at 8:30 central on TNT. The Rockets started the year off struggling with an 11-14 start. After the All-Star Break, things changed. They had a chance at 2nd seed but after a loss to Oklahoma City earlier this week, they fell to fourth. It’s still a feat considering the start to their season. In a season series tie with the Jazz 2-2, The Rockets elite offense will have to dominate the Jazz’s elite defense. The Jazz had some success in blocking out James Harden, but they will need to find a way to stop Chris Paul as well.
Featured Photo Credit: Manofthehourmag
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