Beasts of the East: Preview of Eastern Conference First Round

#1 Milwaukee Bucks versus #8 Detroit Pistons- Season Series 4-0 Bucks

Detroit took care of business on the final game of the season locking in their matchup with the East’s best Milwaukee Bucks. Detroit will make their first playoff appearance since the 2015-16 season, only the second time in the last ten seasons. 

This matchup will be tough for the Pistons as it showed in the regular season with Milwaukee sweeping the series.  Brook Lopez is a tough matchup for Andre Drummond because to his developed 3-point shooting.  Lopez will draw Drummond away from the basket on the defensive end which will open up offensive boards for Giannis and Khris Middleton.

To sum it up Giannis and company are a matchup nightmare across the board for the Pistons with a banged up Blake Griffin.  If Detroit is able to pull out a single game it should be considered a victory.

Prediction: Bucks in 4

#2 Toronto Raptors versus #7 Orlando Magic- Season Series 2-2

The Orlando Magic make their return to the playoffs for the first time in six years.  They will get a matchup with the Toronto Raptors and Kawhi Leonard.  The Magic are one of just seven teams that beat the Raptors twice this season.  Both Magic victories had small asteris’s next to them as Kawhi Leonard was out for a game and Kyle Lowry also missed one game.

Orlando and Toronto are both defensive minded teams that have premier players that lead the way.  Toronto’s mid-season acquisition of Marc Gasol could play a big factor in defending Magic Center Nikola Vucevic who has owned the Raptors this season 20.0 points (55% shooting, 45.5 % 3-point shooting), 15.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists.

The Magic have a punchers chance due to their defensive ability but they lack the guard play to win a major series, Terrance Ross has been their most consistent guard throughout the season but if he goes on one of his classic cold streak it will be too much offensive from the Raptors for Orlando to keep up.  Orlando will make it tough but Raptors have Kawhi Leonard this year and that means a win in the series.

Prediction: Raptors in 5

#3 Philadelphia 76ers versus #6 Brooklyn Nets- Season Series 2-2

When Philadelphia picked up Tobias Harris from the Clippers it seemed like the final piece that was needed to finish the puzzle.  That puzzle would be the Eastern Conference Championship.  Unfortunately for the 76ers their proposed “super team” starting lineup of Reddick-Embiid-Harris-Simmons- Butler has only played a total of ten games together this season. Heading into this series there are questions about the health of Embiid which could be disastrous for a team that has very high ambitions. 

The 76ers will have a tough series ahead of them facing a young Nets team that has nothing to lose, they have already exceeding most expectations up to this point.  D’Angelo Russell has shown the NBA why he was the #2 pick of the Lakers back in 2015.   The Nets are a tough team to figure out, they are the only team in the entire NBA with a winning record and a negative point differential.  The Nets are ahead of schedule but they still tend to be lazy on the defensive end and if Embiid is healthy they will have no answer for the big man.  Anyone in the DFS community knows what bigs can do to the Nets. 

The key though will be Jimmy Butler most likely matching up against D’Angelo Russell.  Butler will be able to handle the size Russell brings from the point and at the very least will slow down their offense.  The Nets will make games close because of their superior second unit lead buy Spencer Dinwiddie.  I will be watching this series to see some fireworks from both ends but if Embiid can play 76ers will take the series. 

Prediction: 76ers in 6 (If Embiid can’t play Nets in 6)

#4 Boston Celtics versus #5 Indiana Pacers- Season Series 3-1

The Celtics had an underwhelming 2018-19 regular season.  The clear favorite in the East seemed to go into funks every other week.  A change to the starting lineup has seemed to spark the Celtics though as Aaron Baynes replaced Marcus Morris providing more punch off the bench and more size in the starting lineup. 

The Pacers have been overachievers all year especially since the injury to Victor Oladipo. They have survived due to their defensive efforts allowing 108.0 points allowed per 100 possessions.  Indiana has also feasted on the lower level teams going 11-1 against non -playoff teams since the Oladipo Injury. 

The Pacer have played at a high level despite the loss of their star and team leader Oladipo.  They enter the playoffs with a lot of talented role players similar to the Celtics team of the previous season. Boston will come out to a 2-0 lead a home and ultimately win this series.  I would go with a sweep but the Pacers are good enough at home to feed off the crowd.

Prediction: Celtics in 5

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