NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Series Preview and Predictions
NBA first-round series prices are courtesy of William Hill.
Toronto Raptors (-700) vs. Washington Wizards (+500)
The Raptors are coming off their greatest regular season in franchise history and because of that, draw the 8th-seeded Washington Wizards in the opening round of the NBA playoffs.
After an impressive 59-23 season, Toronto will kick off its playoff series against the underdog Wizard beginning on Saturday. The Raptors, who head into the first-round series as the overwhelming -700 favourites, have not had success against their Eastern Conference rivals in the past.
In fact, Washington swept the Raptors in 2015 playoffs the last time the clubs met in the post-season. Expect the tables to be turned this time around. Toronto heads into the opening match against Washington having won 7 of the last 10 meetings while outscoring the Wizards 111.6 to 106.6 on average. This is going to be a quick series, only this time it’ll be the Raptors that do the sweeping.
Pick: Toronto Raptors (-700)
Cleveland Cavaliers (-700) vs. Indiana Pacers (+500)
LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers had an off-year, but still managed to put up 50 victories in the regular season. The Cavs, who finished fourth in the Eastern Conference, earned a first-round date with the Indiana Pacers.
Despite some hiccups throughout the 2017-18 campaign, the Cavaliers are still the convincing -700 favourites against the Pacers, who were 5th in the East with a 48-34 record.
Cleveland has owned the Pacers over the last 10 meetings, winning 7 of those games during that stretch. LeBron has the Cavs on a high note going into the playoffs as the club has won 7 of the last 10 games. Cleveland will also win this series in convincing fashion.
Boston Celtics (-160) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (+140)
There were so many high expectations pinned on the Boston Celtics this season. However, a season-ending knee surgery to star point guard Kyrie Irving dashed any chances Boston may have had of winning the NBA championship outright.
The Celtics still head into their first-round matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks as -160 favourites. This series has been a lot closer than you may think, as the Celts are 6-4 against the Bucks over the last 10 meetings between the clubs.
Milwaukee’s offense can outscore Boston’s in this series and that is exactly what will happen if the Greek Freak, Giannis Anteokounmpo picks up from where he left off in the regular season. Anteokounmpo’s 26.9 points per game average was 5th overall in the NBA.
Pick: Milwaukee Bucks (+140)
Philadelphia 76ers (-450) vs. Miami Heat (+350)
The story of the Eastern Conference this season has been the resurgence of the Philadelphia 76ers franchise. Coming of an impressive 52-win campaign, the 76ers finished third in the East and will take on the Miami Heat in the opening round, which tips off on Saturday night.
Led by big man Joel Embiid, the 76ers enter this series as the -450 to defeat the Heat. Embiid has averaged 22.9 points per game while pulling down a 6th-best 11 rebounds per game. The Heat, who enter the first round as the +350 underdogs have more experience and are playoff tested.
Miami has won 2 of the last 3 and 6 of the last 10 meetings against Philly. However, this is a new slate and expect the 76ers’ dream season to roll on past the first round.
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