NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced on Monday afternoon that the NBA wouldn’t make any decisions on the league completing the season until May 1, at the earliest. For basketball lovers, that doesn’t sound very promising, especially considering how the COVID-19 virus has spread over the last three weeks.
I’m not very optimistic about us completing the rest of the 2019-2020 season. Of course, it would be welcoming since, you know, this is my profession and all, but I don’t see it coming.
This was a prime season for so many teams, with the playoff picture shaping up quite nicely. So, barring the chance that we won’t get to see all of this play out, here are our first round predictions for the Eastern and Western Conferences, based on the current NBA standings.
No. 1 Milwaukee Bucks in 4 over the No. 8. Orlando Magic.
Was this hard to predict? I’m thinking this is the most-sure prediction we’ll have in this first round. The question isn’t, at all, who will win this first-round matchup, it’s just a question on if the Magic will steal a game from the Bucks.
No. 2 Toronto Raptors in 5 over the No. 7 Brooklyn Nets.
The Toronto Raptors have had a surprisingly superb season, even after losing Kawhi Leonard to LA. They actually look just as complete as they did last year, they just don’t have a Kawhi Leonard to put them over the top to win consecutive NBA Titles. Nevertheless, they’ll handle the Brooklyn Nets quite handily, and it may be a sweep.
No. 3 Boston Celtics in 7 over the No. 6 Philadelphia 76ers.
This is a tough one because the 76ers have the tools and the talent to pull off an upset. But there are too many questions surrounding this star-studded squad. Will their first six be healthy concurrently? If they are healthy, will they play as a team or will they let personalities and selfishness take over? I’m going to bet on them coming together in an important time, over a conference rival…and still lose. Boston in seven.
No. 4 Miami Heat in 6 over the No. 5 Indiana Pacers.
The Miami Heat have overachieved this season. In no world would they imagine having homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs, but Jimmy Butler has led this team to great things this season, and I think they’ll win a competitive series against the Indiana Pacers.
No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers in 5 over the No. 8 Memphis Grizzlies.
Rookie of the Year Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. are the futures of the NBA, and they’re showing that, after leading the Memphis Grizzlies to an eighth-seed with less than 20 games left to play. As I said, Memphis has been great, but they aren’t doing any damage to the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs. They may win a game, and that’s it.
No. 2 Los Angeles Clippers in 6 over the No. 7 Dallas Mavericks.
The Dallas Mavericks aren’t a pushover team, and the Clippers are a top-three team in the NBA. Their defense makes them a championship favorite, but I still have my questions about this at-times, disbanded team. I think they’ll struggle a little more than we expect them to, especially going up against Luka Doncic.
No. 3 Denver Nuggets in 7 over the No. 6 Houston Rockets.
This one is simple. I think the Rockets should win based on the fact that they have two top 10 players on the roster, but I think the Denver Nuggets are the better all-around team. There’s no way in a million years that I could see P.J. Tucker guarding Nikola Jokic in the paint and being successful, on multiple possessions.
No. 5 Oklahoma City Thunder in 6 over the No. 4 Utah Jazz.
This prediction is due to a mix of things. If you knew the history before this season between both of these teams, you’d understand why this will be a series full of high-energy and high-emotion. Surprisingly, though, I believe the Thunder are the more consistent team and they have the X-factor, which is the Point God, Chris Paul.