LeBron James is playing for the Lakers. For the first time in 8 years, the Eastern Conference is wide open. Any team that didn’t make the playoffs in the East, needs to do some soul searching.
Pat Riley and the Miami Heat have now missed the playoffs 3 out of the last 5 years without LeBron.
Michael Jordan and the Charlotte Hornets have now missed the playoffs 7 out of the last 9 years.
Both Riley and Jordan should be fired.
Eastern Conference Preview:
#1 (60-22) Milwaukee Bucks vs. #8 (41-41) Detroit Pistons.
The Bucks could be the most complete team in the NBA. They can win in a high-scoring, fast paced game or a grind it out defensive battle. Giannis Antetokounmpo should win the MVP Award. He is averaging 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game. The Addition of George Hill and Nikola Mirotic provides depth and shooting off the bench.
The Pistons are a 2 man wrecking crew. Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond average 41 points, 23 rebounds and 6 assists per game combined. But who is going to Detroit’s 3rd option?
If Detroit doesn’t win game three at home, they will get swept.
Take the Bucks in 5 games.
#2 (58-24) Toronto Raptors vs. #8 (42-40) Orlando Magic:
This is a tale of two teams with two different goals. The Raptors are looking to take the next step and get to the NBA Finals. The Magic won 8 out of their last 10 games to clinch a playoff spot for the first time since 2011-12.
The Raptors are led by Kawhi Leonard. The former San Antonio Spur, averaged 26 points per game in his first year with Toronto. Pascal Siakam and Serge Ibaka averaged 31 points and 15 rebounds combined. The addition of Marc Gasol will help them on offense and rebounding. Kyle Lowry needs to raise his scoring average. He did a great job of running the office but needs to score more than 14.2 points per game.
The Magic have had a better season than most experts expected. Nikola Vucevic is the Eastern Conference’s version of Denver’s Nikola Jokic. Vucevic averages 20 points, 12 rebounds and 3.8 assist per game.
Raptors have to much experience, depth and scoring for Orlando to keep this series competitive.
Toronto wins 4 games to 0.
#3 (51-31) Philadelphia 76ers vs. #6 (42-40) Brooklyn Nets:
No disrespect to the Golden State Warriors, but the 76ers are the only team in the NBA that have 5 starters who can score 20 points per night. Jimmy Butler has now become the 4th or 5th option. Joel Embiid can do it all from the Center position and Ben Simmons can control the game without shooting a 3-point-shot.
The Nets have a good nucleus of young players. Former Los Angeles Lakers, D’Angelo Russell averaged 21 points and 7 assists per game.
Every game should be a high scoring affair but I can’t see the Nets winning more than one game, if that.
Take the 76ers 4 games to 0.
#4 (49-33) Boston Celtics vs. #5 (48-34) Indiana Pacers:
The Pacers lost their best player, Victor Oladipo, 36 games into the season and they haven’t missed a beat. He won’t win it, but Nate McMillan should win coach of the year.
The Celtics are built for the playoffs. Led by Kyrie Iriving and Al Horford they have a plethora of playoff experience. Look for Jayson Tatum to average over 20 points per game in this series.
Pacers will play tough but they don’t have a legitimate 20 point per scorer on their roster. The Celtics have at least 4 guys who can score 20 points
Take the Celtics in 5 games.
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