We’ve finally reached the end of a long and dramatic NBA regular season and the playoffs are all set to begin this Saturday. It was a crazier year than usual. A ton of unfortunate injuries (Boogie Cousins, Kristaps Porzingis, Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward), big trade deadline moves (the Cavs traded away most of the Cavs and are now a different Cavs altogether) and a bunch of up-and-coming teams no one wants to face in the playoffs made the playoffs (Blazers, Jazz, Sixers, Pacers).
And these are only a few of the storylines of note. There’s also Lebron playing all 82 games. Russ averaging a triple double. Harden headed for an MVP. The list goes on. However, the most biggest news this week was that it took all 82 games for the NBA playoff brackets to be set. So here we are, ready to start the second season.
The Sixers had a great week. Not only did they pass Lebron and the Cavs for the three seed in the East but they also held them off and finished the year on a franchise best 16 game winning streak. Most of that was without social media expert Joel Embiid to boot. Now the big man is back and Philly opens their playoffs as a 7-point favorite against the Heat.
The matchup of Embiid vs. Whiteside should keep Twitter happy for a few days but look for Philly to advance and cover the whole way. These are teams headed in opposite directions. As hot as the Sixers have been, Miami has been as lukewarm. And an aging Dwayne Wade and inconsistent Whiteside won’t be able to change that.
Cleveland Finishes Strong
The Cavs put together a great year all things considered. Lebron ended this week playing his 82nd game of the year. One of the few things he’s never done. But with all the other drama, the Cavs could never put together a solid month of basketball. Now they find themselves at the four and facing a tough Pacers team sure to give them trouble. We give the edge to the Cavs because of home court and Lebron but look for a long series here. Cleveland opens Game 1 as a 6.5 point favorite at home. A line begging you to take the points..
Jazz Surprise in 2018
After crushing the Warriors by 40 on Tuesday, the Jazz finished a fantastic year with a tough loss to Portland Wednesday night. This allowed OKC to sneak past them in the standings and grab the home-court advantage in the opening round. Donovan Mitchell won’t be Rookie of the Year but he can still do some damage here in the playoffs. OKC’s Big 3 are such an underachieving bunch they are sure to let a team as good as the Jazz stick around. The Thunder have too much talent and the home court so they should win the series. But Utah covers a few games in this series. Especially at home.
Portland Looking Strong
After a few tough games, the Blazers got Damian Lillard back to full strength and finished the year by beating Utah to stay the three seed. Lillard looked like his old-self again after coming back from injury earlier last week. However, their reward is playing the Pelicans and Anthony Davis, which no team wants to do in the first round. Luckily for them, the NBA is a guard’s league and Portland has two great ones in Lillard and C.J. McCollum. They will win and cover when at home. The lines will be tight after a few games so look for Davis to return the favor in New Orleans but the Blazers take the series.
Golden State Gets BLOWN OUT
The Warriors lost by 40! Let that sink in. Sure, they’ve had their share of injuries and Steph won’t be back until the second round at the earliest but still, the Warriors lost by 40! And the Jazz are a good team as mentioned above but still, the Warriors lost by 40! They were in no danger of losing the 2nd seed but still… Probably not the way they wanted to end the season. They’ll right the ship fine versus an upside down Spurs team. Kawhi Leonard is just not returning which will keep the veteran laden team too old to compete. But still, the Warriors lost by 40 and won’t be a good bet until they prove otherwise.