After a scrap for the final three places in the playoffs, the East sorted itself out on the final day. While in the New Year, many predicted the Cavs and Raptors to take the first two spots, it was the Boston Celtics who took the crown. Now, we see some interesting match ups.
For those with an interest in NBA playoff betting data, we know that the favourite almost always rallies back and wins Game 2 if they lose the series opener. Something to keep an eye on in the playoffs for sure.
A Bulls team which has dazzled and disappointed take on a Boston side led by Isaiah Thomas, who has been playing out of his skin this season. The timely return of Dwyane Wade and late season form of Jimmy Butler will provide some hope for Chicago on the offensive end. However, can Wade or Rajon Rondo cover the Celtics talisman, Thomas? It will also be intriguing to see the shooting form of Mirotic, who’s threes can decide the game. Expect some tight games, with the Celtics squeezing through.
Prediction: Celtics 4-2
Cleveland Cavaliers vs Indiana Pacers
Playoff Lebron against playoff Paul George – which will come out on top? The Pacers hit some late form, thanks to the pickup of Lance Stephenson, to take 7th place. However, the big three of Lebron, Kyrie and Love should launch the Cavs into the second round after some competitive games. Let’s see if Lance Stephenson can repeat his ‘heroics’ against Lebron.
Prediction: Cavs 4-3
Toronto Raptors vs Milwaukee Bucks
The Raptors had a strong end to the season with the return of Kyle Lowry and the continuing form of Demar ‘Kobe Bryan’ Derozan. Add this to acquisitions of defensive rocks Ibaka and PJ Tucker, as well as the improved form of Jonas Valancuinas, and we could see the Raptors go for the title this year. To do this, however, they need to keep Giannis, or ‘The Greek Freak’, quiet. Khris Middleton is also an underrated shooter, but the Raptors should sweep this.
Prediction: Raptors 4-1
Atlanta Hawks vs Washington Wizards
Both these teams were out of sorts at the end of the regular season, but as we know, the Playoffs are different altogether. The Hawks are more of an ‘all round side’ like the Spurs or the Jazz – and so, could match up well with Washington. Dwight Howard and Paul Millsap, returning from injury, should dominate the paint, but how will the Hawks deal with the Wizards’ team work? Everything goes through the playmaking hands of John Wall, and when the Wizards’ three-point shooters, like Bradley Beal, are on form, it’s hard to contain them.
Prediction: Wizards 4-3