BLOGTABLE: Which East teams win Round 1 of the Playoffs?
ABS-CBN Sports on Apr 14, 2019 07:20 PM
FILE - DETROIT, MI - FEBRUARY 28: Blake Griffin #23 of the Detroit Pistons dunks against the Milwaukee Bucks on February 28, 2018 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images)
NBA Philippines blogtable
The 2019 NBA Playoffs are upon us, which means it's time for our Philippine bloggers to break out their crystal (basket)balls and gaze into the future. At the end of round one, which teams will be moving on, and which will be scheduling their vacations? Here are our picks for the Eastern Conference round one games:
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#1 Milwaukee Bucks vs #8 Detroit Pistons
Enzo Flojo: Milwaukee in 5
A full-strength Detroit would already be significant underdogs against the surging Bucks, but with Blake Griffin not 100 percent thanks to an unfortunate knee injury, the Pistons' ceiling is pushing this series to 5 games. Also, Milwaukee will have the MVP, which is always a good thing.
Marco Benitez: After a juggernaut 60-win regular season, the Bucks face a Pistons team that limped into the playoffs, and which they owned in the regular season. While Milwaukee has not advanced past the first round in their last 8 playoff appearances, their 4th ranked offense and league-best defense won’t face much of a challenge against Detroit, whose best player – Blake Griffin – is barely 100 percent. That said, I give Griffin and Drummond a little more credit, and so I'm picking the Bucks in 5.
Migs Bustos: Bucks 4-1.
Bucks in five. I'm leaning on Giannis' leadership and the ability of the team to step up in big situations. Remember that the Bucks are hungry. This is the same core that finished sixth and seventh in past seasons. They believe now is their time.
Anton Roxas: Bucks in 5.
Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond mean trouble for the Bucks frontline. But, ultimately, Milwaukee will prevail due to having a more superior roster.
#4 Boston Celtics vs #5 Indiana Pacers
Enzo Flojo: Boston in 6
Some may think an Oladipo-less Indiana can push the Celtics to the brink, but remember that the Pacers won just 10 of their 24 post-ASW games. Losing Marcus Smart is going to hurt Boston's defense, but Grdon Hayward's promising late season upswing in production should stem the tide for the Big Green.
Marco Benitez: The underachieving Celtics will be without Marcus Smart for the first two rounds, while the Pacers have been without their star Victor Oladipo since late January. But even without Smart, this Celitcs lineup was built for the Playoffs, and even if they seemed to have some chemistry issues midway through the season, there’s nothing like the Playoffs when it comes to getting everyone on the same page. The Pacers will rely on their defense to keep games close, but without their All-Star and closer in Oladipo, they’ll be hard pressed to upset the Celtics in a best-of-seven series. Celtics in 5.
Migs Bustos: Boston 4-3
I see this series going seven games. The Celtics have been inconsistent towards the end of the season, and the Pacers have proven that they are gritty and tough to beat, even without Victor Oladipo. It will be a tense and physical series. Apologies to Pacers fans, but Uncle Drew will take them to school.
Anton Roxas: Celtics in 5.
Even without Marcus Smart, Boston is still loaded with talent. I have a feeling they will finally come together and gel as a team in these playoffs. As for the Pacers, they better hope that their best player, Victor Oladipo comes back healthy next season.
#3 Philadelphia 76ers vs #6 Brooklyn Nets
Enzo Flojo: Philadelphia in 6
Much of this series will be determined by one man -- Joel Embiid. The Cameroonian center's readiness for the postseason remains not-so-certain given current knee issues, but should he be reasonably healthy and productive, hardly anyone on Brooklyn's squad can contain him 1v1, even sophomore sensation Jarrett Allen. The Nets have been a really nice Cinderella team this season, but there won't be a fairy tale ending for them in this series.
Marco Benitez: The star-studded 76ers lineup is clearly the odds-on favorite in this series versus the Nets, but it is the status of Joel Embiid - who missed five of their last seven regular season games due to knee soreness - that will determine how lopsided this series will be. Their starting unit of Simmons, Embiid, Reddick, Butler and Harris has outscored opponents by 17.1 points per 100 possessions in their 161 minutes on the floor together since trading for Tobias Harris. The Nets will need Russell to continue his All-Star level performance if they are to stand a chance. 76ers in 5.
Migs Bustos: Sixers 4-2
Same prediction with the Raptors series. Game one was a feel out, and you can give game four to the Nets. The process is materializing for the Sixers and their little experience can get them past at least this round. Note that where Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid go, that's where the Sixers will too.
Anton Roxas: Sixers in 4.
D’Angelo Russell won’t be shouting “I’m built for this sh*t!” when Jimmy Butler starts going Game of Zones on him.
#2 Toronto Raptors vs #7 Orlando Magic
Enzo Flojo: Toronto in 5
I'm intrigued by Orlando, in no small part because Vucevic island has seemed really enticing this season and Terrence Ross may just drop a couple of doozies on his former team. Still, by and large, the Raptors are deeper team here, and their big 3 of Kawhi, Kyle, and Pascal will be too much for the Magic Kingdom to contain.
Marco Benitez: The Toronto Raptors have what is arguably their deepest lineup ever, with 3 legitimate All-Stars, including one of the game’s best two-way players in Kawhi Leonard, and a heavy favorite for Most Improved, Pascal Siakam. The late season addition of Marc Gasol, I feel, is what can take them to the Eastern Conference Finals, as they now have a playoff-tested big man that can anchor their offense outside of Kawhi. With their experience and depth, I don’t see the Magic being much of a stumbling block in the Raptors’ playoff run. Toronto in 5.
Migs Bustos: I was supposed to say that the Raptors can win in five, but after today's opener, it looks like Orlando can win in seven.
At the end of the day, I think the Raptors can win in six games (give game four to Magic) Game one was a feel-out game for them and will be enough of a wake-up call to get themselves in rhythm.
Anton Roxas: Raptors in 5.
Orlando has been playing with a lot energy and excitement as of late. However, Toronto will put an end to the Magic show when the Raptors unleash Kawhi Leonard and Marc Gasol for the first time in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
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