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NBA Eastern Conference Preview & Odds


April 11, 2018 EST


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With the NBA Playoffs starting on Saturday, teams are still clinching playoff spots. Golden State find themselves with the second seed in the West, while Cleveland has managed fourth in the East. This season the title is up for grabs. With the way teams are playing it can go in any direction, and those sleeper teams in the bottom four of each conference aren’t exactly a cake walk.

Eastern Conference Future Odds
Cleveland Cavaliers +100
Toronto Raptors +150
Boston Celtics +375
Philadelphia 76ers +600
Washington Wizards +2500
Milwaukee Bucks +3000
Miami Heat +3300
Indiana Pacers +4000

 

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Toronto Raptors #1:

The Raptors never fail to show up in the regular season, but it often shuts down come playoff time. This year, the Raptors are on a mission, and there’s been no slowing down. With Kyle Lowry and Demar Derozan playing a combined 66.1 minutes a game, the duo has complete control of this franchise. The Raptors are a good example of adjusting to a roster. This season alone they’ve used their bench 45% more than last season, part of the reason why they’re the top seed. If you can make Fred Van Vleet stand out that says it all

Boston Celtics #2:

Don’t count the Celtics out! They have multiple options to fall back on. With Irving out for the season and Hayward looking questionable for a possible return, Tatum and Brown will have to lead Boston this postseason. Luckily for them, the C’s found a gem in Terry Rozier. Ever since Rozier saw more minutes come his way, he’s outperformed most starting guards in the league, even adding a triple-double to his resume. The Greg Monroe signing is also huge and provides more of a veteran presence down low which Boston lacked in the beginning of the season. Yes, injuries suck, but Boston still looks strong.

Philadelphia 76ers #3:

Breaking history each and everyday, Philadelphia is not a familiar name when looking at playoff spots. To be honest, I thought they would’ve landed somewhere in seeds 6-8, but without Embiid they haven’t missed a step. Ben Simmons will ultimately be the X-factor come the postseason. Him playing well and at the highest level possible opens up a lot offensively for the club. JJ Reddick, Robert Covington, Dario Saric, and company all play better when Simmons is on the floor. The only problem that persists is how to adjust when Simmons goes to the bench.

Cleveland Cavaliers #4:

I haven’t heard much of the Cavs lately. LeBron and company have struggled for a good chunk of the season, and with a deep roster change, they’ve performed worse (15-10) after the All-Star break. Not playing as a top two seed will only light a fire under James, and I won’t be surprised to find them back in the Conference Finals competing for another shot at the title. The new line-up of Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr, Kevin Love, and James alone will have an impact on their playoff push.

Indiana Pacers #5:

Seeing the Pacers in the Postseason brings me back to the Paul George, David West era. Only, this time, the team is centered around Victor Oladipo and Myles Turner. The Pacers will fall in the first round, but I don’t see them going away easy. Their probable match-up is likely going to be against LeBron and the Cavs, which is not the best for a young team looking to make a playoff push. Oladipo put the Pacers back into conversations as contenders, but they need a few more years to develop. Expect competition. Underdog teams are always going to battle.

I’m skeptical of Indiana because they have flaws in their system. For one, they’re small down low with Thaddeus Young being undersized. If the Cavs are a first round match-up, keeping Kevin Love, Larry Nance Jr, and Tristan Thompson off the glass is going to be a huge problem for the Pacers.

Milwaukee Bucks #6:

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The Bucks are a team no one wants to face in the first round, especially if teams like the Cavs, Raptors, and Celtics are looking for an easy sweep. Giannis Antetokounmpo is a star, and he alone can take over a game. One thing the Bucks lack is depth and losing Greg Monroe is going to come back to hurt them. As of today, they’re set to play Philadelphia in the first round. Embiid potentially being out helps their cause. With the right in-game adjustments and tempo, the Bucks can find success in the early stages of the playoffs. Bottom line is: no one wants to see the Bucks in the first round.

Miami Heat #7:

I was sold on Miami getting into the playoffs this season when Dwyane Wade returned. His veteran presence and championship mentality will carry over into the Postseason. Moving forward Wade needs to be in the starting lineup, and if Eric Spoelstra questions that then it could mean the difference between advancing and facing elimination early. Yes, it’s a lot of pressure to be put on the vet, but if you look at the depth on their roster it matches up well with other teams. What makes the Heat different is the roster is interchangeable. Tyler Johnson could run the 1, 2, and 3 along, while Kelly Olynyk and James Johnson could switch between the 4 and 5. Miami at the seventh-seed could pose problems for Boston who are currently experiencing some major setbacks.

Washington Wizards #8:

Washington is one of those teams that fell off this season, and somehow they still managed to cling to the eighth spot. The Wizards have skated by this season due to John Wall’s injury, which sidelined him for stretches throughout the season. While I don’t see them advancing out of the first round, they might manage to steal a game or two. There’s too much in question in Washington this season that will hinder them come playoff time.

With the Eastern Conference pretty much all locked in, the Western Conference has the majority of its teams all secured, except for the eighth spot which is currently between Minnesota and Denver who play on Friday.

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