Apr 13, 2018


After 82 regular season games, the NBA playoffs are finally upon us. Some teams have been in a secure playoff position for some time now, and for others (looking at you Minnesota) it took all 82 games to earn a spot. Now that all the dust has settled, it is time to start looking at the first round matchups.

Starting in the East, the Raptors posted their most wins in franchise history this year, and find themselves atop the Conference heading into the playoffs. They've disappointed in past playoffs but probably have their best chance yet to topple LeBron and the Cavs. They'll open up against the Wizards who have just gotten John Wall back. However, even with Wall's return this series shouldn't go more than five games. The second seed Celtics matchup against the Bucks in the first round. With the loss of Kyrie, the Celtics are a much less intimidating force. They've split the season series with the Bucks, so don't be surprised if this series goes six or seven. The 76ers are on a tear, winning their last 16 games heading into the playoffs, they have climbed up to the third spot in the East. They will play host to the Heat in the first round. The 76ers are young, but they've exceeded expectations in this breakout season. Embiid will miss at least the first game and may be out for more. The Heat hope to take advantage of Embiid’s absence and while he is out expect big man Hassan Whiteside to up his game. If the 76ers can get health it'll be fun to see how much of a run this inexperienced team can make. They could be the outfit to dethrone Cleveland. The Cavs and the Pacers make up the final matchup in the East. The Cavs have finished with their worst record since LeBron's return, and in what has been a turmoil-filled season they look beatable for the first time in a while. Behind Oladipo's career season, the Pacers have posted their second-best record in 15 years. However, don't expect playoff-mode LeBron to get upset in the first round any time soon. Barring any injuries, the Cavs should take this one relatively easily.

In the Western Conference, the Rockets finished with an immaculate 65-17 record and the number one seed. They will take on the Timberwolves who just snuck in the playoffs with a win in their season finale. Chris Paul and James Harden both have rocky playoff pasts, but they should breeze through this first round as they look to end the Warriors stranglehold on the West. The Warriors finished with the second seed and will be playing the Spurs in the first round. Golden State will be playing their first round without Curry which really changes their offense. However, this Spurs team is probably the best matchup the Warriors could have asked for in this first round. The banged-up Warriors have been shaky down the stretch, and the Spurs are still the Spurs, so this series could go longer than expected. With a win against the Jazz in their final game, the Trailblazers secured the third spot in the West. They will play host to Anthony Davis and the Pelicans in the first round. The Trailblazers only finished a game better than the Pelicans so this series looks like a toss-up. Nurkic is going to need to be able to contain Davis for the Trailblazers to win this series. The last pairing in the West is the four seed Thunder taking on the Jazz. Utah had a shot at the third spot, but given how close the Western Conference has been they dropped down to the fifth spot. This is going to be another toss-up series, with a big key for the Jazz being how rookie sensation Donovan Mitchell (33 fantasy basketball points per game) will fare in a playoff atmosphere.

In the Fantasy Realm, remember the NBA Dynasty contest will run through the playoffs. Greg currently sits atop the leaderboard with some big scores in April, but Kanye and Nemo both trail him by less than 50 points. So keep getting those Fantasy Basketball lineups in at Draftboard for your shot at $10K.

Dan Quinn