This Saturday, on the glorious 13th day of the month they call "April", the NBA Playoffs will finally begin with all of its glory. There's a lot of intriguing match-ups to go over. So let's get weird.
(#1)GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS VS (#8) LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
- It's going to be one of the series that everyone expects to be over in a hurry but don't sleep on the Clippers stealing a game in LA. Remember...Los Angeles Nightlife is undefeated. The switch will need to finally be flipped by the Warrior veterans, as they look to defend their title. This Clippers team is young and filled with a lot of "underdog" mentalities so don't think they will go down easy. I'll be most intrigued to see how promising rookie Point Guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander holds up in his first playoff experience.
(#4) HOUSTON ROCKETS VS (#5) UTAH JAZZ
- This is going to be an absolute war. Houston has been the talk of the NBA season with their terrible early stretch to start the year followed by the incredible dominance of James Harden, leading to the Rockets getting their swagger back. Utah has been flying under the radar here and I wouldn't be shocked to see this one go six or even seven games. Donovan Mitchell has serious breakout potential in this series.
(#3) PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS VS (#6) OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
- We like to call this in the business the "Enes Kanter Revenge" series. But in all seriousness, this should also be a dog fight of a series. I'm a believer in OKC this year and I think it's time for them to make some noise in the playoffs. Terry Stotts always has his team ready for battle, so I don't think Portland will go down easily. The loss of Jusuf Nurkic is going to hurt in this one. Expect OKC to live through Paul George and Steven Adams in this series.
(#2) DENVER NUGGETS VS (#7) SAN ANTONIO SPURS
I'm a lot higher on the Denver Nuggets than most are, but it's hard to every doubt a Greg Popovich team. I expect this won't be an easy series, but I like Denver to build some momentum as they get ready for their potential second-round match-up against OKC. Denver Veteran forward Paul Milsap could be the X-Factor in this series, as he has a history of outstanding postseason play.
(#1) MILWAUKEE BUCKS VS (#8) DETROIT PISTONS
I honestly have been impressed with both teams this year. Not much was expected of Dwayne Casey and company for the Detroit Pistons, but they find themselves ahead of the development curve with a Playoff Berth. Unfortunately, they are running into a powerhouse. Milwaukee has been phenomenal this year, behind the play of MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo. GM Jon Horst has done a fantastic job of surrounding Giannis with talent and the Bucks are going to be a tough team to deal with in the playoffs.
(#4) BOSTON CELTICS VS (#5) INDIANA PACERS
- With the recent injury news of Marcus Smart, this series just got a bit more interesting. The good news for the Celtics? Gordon Hayward's play as of late has been outstanding. If Hayward can continue his production, the Celtics might be able to forget about the Smart injury...for now. Indiana will have to get Bojan Bogdanovic going to have a shot in this series.
(#3) PHILADELPHIA 76ERS VS (#6) BROOKLYN NETS
- This has some sleeper potential to it, as I hope the Sixers aren't overlooking the Nets. With their first playoff berth in years, the Brooklyn team has a dangerous thing going for them...chemistry. This might be one of the closest groups in the NBA. Brooklyn knows no one believes in them, so they might have a chance to shock the world. Sixers big man Joel Embiid will be the storyline in this series, while there are some concerns about his health moving forward.
(#2) TORONTO RAPTORS VS (#7) ORLANDO MAGIC
- This Toronto team just seems different this year. Yes, people will be quick to point out they have Kawhi Leonard in the wings this year, but this Raptors team is built for a serious run. Most Improved Play of the Year candidate Pascal Siakam is going to be critical to the Raptors playoff run. On the other side, you can argue that no team in the NBA has had such an impressive Post-All-Star performance than the Orlando Magic. In order for the Magic to have any chance, they are going to need a surprise stand out performer. Aaron Gordon should be pumped up to show the world his talents.