2018 NBA Playoffs: Second Round Preview & Predictions
The NBA playoffs are getting heated.
Between the Boston Celtics narrowly defeating the Greek Freak and co., LeBron hyper-carrying the Cavaliers passed Indiana, and Utah toppling what looked like, on paper, a “super team” in OKC; the 2018 playoffs have been nothing short of exciting. With that being said, the next round is upon us, and here comes new drama, new competition, new rivalry, and new playoff predictions!
Toronto Raptors (1) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (4)
For the first time in a long time, the Raptors have emerged through the first round of the playoffs before taking it to a game seven. The Raptors’ bench featuring: Delon Wright, Fred VanVleet, and Pascal Siakam, have been spectacular thus far in the post-season. The Raptors’ bench is a promising group of young players who play with energy and grit. Toronto has finished first in the conference and are, in general terms, “the favourite” to win this series.
However, there is one player who is the legitimate boogey man for this team. This boogey man wears the number 23 and leaves the Raptors’ bench shook whenever he’s on the floor.
Wait… what am I saying, not only is the bench shook, he leaves the whole team shook when he is on the floor!
There is no answer to LeBron James, but, fortunately enough for the Raptors, the boogey man has no supporting cast to put that much fright into this Raptors group. After the Pacers vs Cavs series, I really don’t see how that team can beat this Raptors team.
If Toronto can keep their composure and play with the same top five offence and defence they had throughout the year, they are taking this series and finally getting over their nightmare.
Raptors in 7.
Boston Celtics (2) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (3)
No Kyrie? No problem.
The Celtics managed to get past the Bucks with the power of Terry Rozier. Who is Eric Bledsoe again?
This Boston Celtics team is well coached, has young budding players in Jayson Tatum and Jaylan Brown, and has some savvy veterans that make this team dangerous.
However, they are missing their two best players in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward and, unfortunately, without these guys, I do not seeing them getting passed the dynamic duo in Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
These guys are the real deal.
“The Process” is nearing the end of completion and Simmons/Embiid are the best products from it. Both of them have instantly increased Philly’s chances of competing, and have pushed the 76ers from their “processing”/lottery ways, to contention. Throw in a solid supporting cast in JJ Redick, Marco Belinelli, Dario Saric, & Robert Covington and this team is looking to make some noise. It’s crazy how young this team actually is and once they get some experience under their belt, it looks like they will be the next best thing in the East.
Sixers in 6.
Houston Rockets (1) vs. Utah Jazz (5)
I am starting off this section by giving a huge shout out to Donovan Mitchell.
Let me explain.
After Gordon Hayward left in the offseason, this team was not expected to be in the playoffs. They were a team who needed to find their identity once again, and draft young players who would eventually take over as the leading scorer the Jazz needed.
Well, it looks like the Jazz skipped the whole rebuilding part and went straight to finding that young player who was ready to take over Gordon Hayward’s spot. Not only was he going to take over, but who knew that he would also be NBA-ready once he joined the league?
Donovan Mitchell is a future star.
A hard-worker who has exceed expectations in his rookie year, he was a steal in the draft and had the confidence & swagger to take down the OKC Thunder featuring Paul George and Russel Westbrook (no shout out to Carmelo Anthony on purpose by the way!).
The Jazz are my favourite team to watch in the West.
Ricky Rubio has reignited his career, Rudy Gobert is the defensive player of the year, Donovan Mitchell is rookie of the year material, and Joe Ingles is a savage. Quinn Synder has done a great job with this group and I am really excited about the future of this team. With all this being said, I still don’t think they have the experience and personnel to take down the Houston Rockets, especially considering the fact that Ricky Rubio is out for the first two games of the series.
The Rockets feature James Harden and Chris Paul, who are on a mission to make it to the NBA finals this year. The only thing in their way is a Golden State Warriors team that is arguably the best team ever.
The Jazz will be no push overs however, and I can guarantee that they are going to put this Rockets team to work. If Ricky Rubio wasn’t injured for the first two games, I think this series would be a lot closer than most people think.
Houston in 6.
Golden State Warriors (2) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (6)
The Pelicans have impressed me this post season.
Rondo has been playing great basketball as of late, while Holiday and Mirotic have been the shooters that Anthony Davis has always needed on his team. It’s really sad though that their playoff run is going to be coming to an abrupt end.
Steph Curry is probable for game two of this series and before he even arrived, the Warriors looked close to invincible. The Warriors have a star-studded team and won the championship last year with little-to-no effort.
Warriors in 4.