2018 NBA Playoff Preview: Short, Somewhat Sweet, and Slightly Spicy
The NBA Playoffs begin Saturday. I must write something about them. Short, sweet, with a lingering spice.
(1) Toronto Raptors vs (8) Washington Wizards
Raptors in 6
The Wizards are one of the more talented 8th seeds in recent memory, but they played their best basketball in late February and early March, and re-incorporating John Wall after a lengthy absence hasn’t been easy. Toronto’s bench has obliterated the rest of the NBA. Will Casey continue to play 10, despite the fact that playoffs usually mean longer minutes for starters? DeRozan’s growth and range will be tested but the Raptors will never trail in this series.
(2) Boston Celtics vs (7) Milwaukee Bucks
Celtics in 6
Neither team is where it would like to be heading into the playoffs. The Celtics are missing Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart, Daniel Theis, and Gordon Hayward. The Bucks are missing their spark and their swagger. Offense will be difficult for both teams to come by. Expect close, ugly games. Brad Stevens and home court push the C’s on to Round Two.
(3) Philadelphia 76ers vs (6) Miami Heat
Sixers in 7
The Philadelphia 76ers have been on such a run (16 straight) that its hard to realize they’ve beaten up on the bottom 20 teams of the NBA over the last month. Other than a win against Cleveland, Philly’s schedule has been softer than a baby’s bottom. The inexperienced Sixers face a gritty Heat team that doesn’t have the speed to keep up with a fast-breaking Sixers team, but has the switchability and length to cause them problems. Will Embiid play by Game 3? Game 4? When he does, the Heat will have to play more Whiteside and less Olynyk, which stunts their offensive rhythm. Olynyk and Ellington have both been critical to Miami’s spacing. Will Spoelstra sag iff of Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz to the point where they are being darsd to shoot jumpers? It might be Miami’s best bet, but Simmons is too good to settle.
(4) Cleveland Cavs vs (5) Indiana Pacers
Cavs in 6
The Cavs complete lack of defense is alarming, but the Pacers don’t have enough half-court creators to make them pay. LeBron will average 30 and 10 assists. Will Rodney Hood and George Hill give the Cavs solid minutes? They’ll need then both in the Semis against Toronto.
No time to explain. Life is too fast at the moment.
(1) Houston Rockets vs (8) Minnesota Timberwolves
Rockets in 5
If only the coaches switched places. Thibs can’t seem to get the best out of these Wolves, though Butler’s presence makes this somewhat interesting.
(2) Golden State Warriors vs (7) San Antonio Spurs
Warriors in 6
Probably fewer, but no doubt they’ll win. If only Kawhi really existed and wasn’t a chimera.
(3) Portland Trail Blazers vs (6) New Orleans Pelicans
Blazers in 7
Somehow, this series will make no sense from Game 1 to Game 7. Evenly matched and weird match-ups all over. Anthony Davis is very good.
(4) Oklahoma City Thunder vs (5) Utah Jazz
Jazz in 7