The NBA Playoffs, otherwise known as the ‘second season,’ are finally underway. It will take a few weeks, but in time, we will finally see who will be representing each conference at the end. The Cleveland Cavaliers will definitely not be the team coming out of the Eastern Conference this time. That much we know for sure.
But who will it be?
It is hard to say with any certainty just what will happen, but oddsmakers (at BetOnline.ag) seem to be leaning towards the Bucks:
- Milwaukee Bucks -120
- Toronto Raptors +300
- Philadelphia 76ers +600
- Boston Celtics +400
- Indiana Pacers +10000
- Orlando Magic +5000
- Brooklyn Nets +5000
- Detroit Pistons +25000
The results from Game One of the first round do not provide a whole lot of clarity. Of the top teams, only two of them won, Milwaukee and Boston, and the Celtics only won by not being as bad as the Pacers were. Toronto was upset in a close one by the Orlando Magic (104-101). Philadelphia almost looked confused in their loss to the Brooklyn Nets.
Will Milwaukee keep on winning? Is their trouble in Philadelphia? Are the Raptors going to bounce back? Will Indiana overcome the Celtics?
There was a good chance that the Bucks were going to sweep the Pistons with Blake Griffin in the lineup. But according to news reports, he is not expected to play in the first round making a sweep almost guaranteed.
Orlando deserves a ton of credit for how they are playing right now. They needed to go on a tear down the stretch just to qualify for the postseason. Now that they have, they have to continue playing at a high level in order to win. So far, so good.
But Toronto is the better team between the two. They may have been caught off guard in Game One, but they will not be caught napping again. Fans can expect to see a different Raptors team for the rest of this series.
As for Boston, right now they are the better of two bad teams masquerading as playoff teams. Since they have more potential for offense than the Pacers, it is easy to see them winning their series. But it is kind of hard to see them advancing past whoever they see in the conference semi-finals round.
Of the four first-round series, the one that could result in an upset is the 76ers and Nets. The odds still favor the 76ers, but they did not play like a team that is looking to make a deep run into the playoffs. Chances are the will get their act together enough to beat a Nets team they should have swept. But they are not going to make it any further.
Barring any of their star players going down with injuries, it is going to be the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals. Statistically speaking, the Bucks are the better team on both ends of the court. The Bucks did win their regular season series, 3-1, but Toronto didn’t have Kawhi Leonard available for one of the losses.
It should be a good series, but more than likely, the winner of the Eastern Conference is going to be the team favored to win it all along—the Milwaukee Bucks.