We're projecting they win the first round series. The Raptors are by far the better team, but Washington takes two at home with some scrappy defense and a nothing-to-lose mentality.
The 76ers are riding a 16-game win streak and it's hard not to trust the process. Whichever West team comes out on top will have faced two tough series. The team's offseason additions, however, haven't made them much better than they were a year ago.
It's no secret that Simmons and Mitchell have been advocating for themselves to win the Rookie of the Year award and they both have strong, compelling cases.
A bunch of stars will make their playoff debuts. The Bucks are playing very bad, I really hope Giannis just takes it easy this offseason as I think his knee is a bigger issue than he's let on. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum are both members of the NBA Social Media All-Star team if that existed, and Jusuf Nurkic is just plain nasty in the paint.
Who wins? Playoff Bron in five. Philly is hot but the playoffs are a different animal. The addition of Eric Bledsoe definitely gives them another playmaker and defender. But the Thunder might be one of those teams better built for the postseason, and they got an easier road when they won three consecutive to grab home-court advantage against a Utah team that would have had it before a season-ending loss at Portland.
Although it was tempting, I've chose to go with Utah's Mitchell.
The Houston Rockets essentially went wire-to-wire as the best team in the National Basketball Association. The four-time All-Star tore his meniscus in their second matchup on February 23, then missed the final two meetings before returning on Friday. I don't think either of these things are a coincidence.
It's not just me fighting for Snyder.
This going to be a great series.
Boston Celtics (2) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (7) - Boston, which is without five-time All-Star Kyrie Irving for the playoffs and guard Marcus Smart until at least late April, has its hands full against these Bucks. Milwaukee's 106-102 win over Boston on April 3 serves as the best evidence of how they match up at the moment. I do think the Thunder could cause some matchup trouble for the Jazz.
In the off-season they added a future Hall-of-Famer in Carmelo Anthony and one of the top two-way players in Paul George. They've won 11 of their last 13 games but their defence has been pathetic, finishing 29th in defensive rating.
This series could be interesting. Every basket seems to matter that much more to the players, and it is must watch.
The Wizards (+9,000) might have a psychological edge, having eliminated Toronto in first-round play in 2015, but will need to be on their best behavior to have a shot at another upset this year. They will be tested from the outset by an IN team that many thought would be rebuilding this season. Until history proves me otherwise with Paul, I'm taking the Warriors.
Portland Trail Blazers (-210) vs. A little more experience and one of the best backcourts in the National Basketball Association with McCollum and Lillard with homecourt advantage should be enough for them to get past the Pelicans, but it won't be easy.
Davis went on a tear during the second half of this season, and it will be worth seeing if he can keep putting up video game numbers now that it's playoff time.