Updated: Apr 16, 2019
#1 Golden State Warriors
“Them just jokes baby” – backing GSW helped you burn a lot of money at the counter during the regular season, but it’s now Playoffs so you can safely discard your hurt feelings and scorned bankroll. Odds are strong for a first-round sweep to make a statement. Boasting top 5 defensive and offensive efficiency with their starters, they’ll catch some resistance in later rounds, but the road still ends with another champagne soaked GSW title. They’re just too much to handle for any opponent over a 7 game series. The focus is there for Cousins who came to win a championship and for KD and Thompson who want more hardware before they head to summer free-agency. Western Conference will yield the champion…book it.
#8 Los Angeles Clippers
“I’m not sayin, I’m just sayin” – Sweep. Set the iRobot on auto-sweep. This blue-collar team was surprisingly fun to watch during the regular season and we all love a team that works together without a true superstar, but no shot they advance let alone steal a game.
#2 Denver Nuggets
“No joke – Jokic can ball” – Denver will look to use a Jokic size advantage early but that will have depreciating value with later round opponents. #2 seeds typically start fast and have been solid as bigger favorites, but they will be tested right out of the gate and we’ll get some real perspective on their longevity in a very talented conference.
#7 San Antonio Spurs
“Death, taxes, Spurs” – the Spurs have been a fixture of the Playoffs for two decades and sprinkled some Championships along the way. Being well-coached is a given and they will test any opponent they face. DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge are exciting to watch, but they lack a strong enough supporting cast to take them far. No championship in site, but their consistent results are still the envy of NBA franchises everywhere.
#3 Portland Trail Blazers
“The enigma proposition” – Who will the Trail Blazers be? Does ending regular season win-loss record correctly measure them as a #3 seed favorite against a first-round #6 seed opponent that swept them in 4 contests? It’s proving ground time and both Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum bring enough offensive firepower to get to the next round, but it’s going to be a grueling Playoffs for them from inception without it getting any easier. Popcorn, check!
#6 Oklahoma City Thunder
“Defense wins championships” – And so do consistent triple-doubles. The Thunder provide plenty of reason to be feared as more than the #6 seed. Russell Westbrook and Paul George are committed to asserting themselves as one of the league’s top super-duos thirsty for redemption from last year’s early exit. Expect plenty of volatility in the lines as this team can be slight road favorites against any team in the conference sans GSW.
#4 Houston Rockets
“Shoot the J…shoot it!” – Game, blouses. Fear the beard because James Harden, Chris Paul, and crew have an open license to shoot the rock as much as they want. This team can match the offensive firepower of any team in the postseason when they’re hitting stride. Based on their #4 seed, many believe that we will be observing the true Western Conference Finals if they meet GSW in the second round. No doubt.
#5 Utah Jazz
“No fear” – Donovon Mitchell has none. The Jazz will look to protect the rim and defensively matchup against the projected super offensive firepower they face in the next two rounds. Mitchell is a game-changer than can go off at any moment delivering stackable losses that #4 seeds have suffered since 2013 (13-21 SU & 11-23 ATS since 2013 in the game following a loss).
#1 Milwaukee Bucks
“Unicorns rule” – The league’s best regular season record was captured by the Greek Freak known as Giannis Antetokoumpo (say that 10x fast) – the face of the NBA’s next generation. Giannis is matchup proof and is complemented by Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton, Nikola Mirotic, Brook Lopez, Ersan Ilyasova, and George Hill. They boast the best defense in the NBA and if healthy, they are serious contenders to get to the Eastern Conference finals.
#8 Detroit Pistons
“By the skin of our teeth” – The Pistons squeezed into the Playoffs to take #8 seed in the Eastern Conference. Blake Griffin is going to need to stay healthy for them to have any chance of stealing games. They will need to shoot well from the arc and maximize second-chance opportunities with Andre Drummond’s pension for offensive rebounds.
#2 Toronto Raptors
“Time to shine” – The Raptors know that the time is now. Mega superstar Kawhi Leonard thrives in the Playoffs and he’s well rested. The strong supporting cast with Kyle Lowry and the strategic acquisition of Marc Gasol make this a formidable team with experience and urgency to advance. They can play with anyone in the East.
#7 Orlando Magic
“Cluster luck magic” – if any team exemplified how to close a regular season strong it’s the Orlando Magic. Delivering punches in bunches served them well and they will need to continue that effort and be efficient from 3-point range in order to steal a game or two in their first-round series…but making the Playoffs alone is the accomplishment.
#3 Philadelphia Sixers
“The X factor” – is center Joel Embiid. This dude is a monster that changes the depth of a nightmare the Sixers can be for their opponents. And that is no slight to the rest of the super-power offense that is Jimmy Butler, Ben Simmons, JJ Redick, and Tobias Harris. They’re young, new to each other, and new to the Playoffs, but this team has good odds to go far in the Eastern Conference.
#6 Brooklyn Nets
“Get in the zone” – The Nets play a lot of zone defense and they will certainly need to when facing their round one opponent in the Sixers. BKN has been a great story all season and they have made the most of their opportunities to get here. Great experience for all-star guard D’Angelo Russell and co. but it’s not realistic that they get beyond their first series.
#4 Boston Celtics
“The chosen one” – The Celtics were the pre-season favorites to win the East and have since found a way to finish as the #4 seed with a loaded roster in Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart. If talent alone could guarantee performance and championships, you could pencil Boston in for a visit to the Finals now. But it’s going to take strong performances from Kyrie to get deep. They will be fun to watch.
#5 Indiana Pacers
“Grit and hustle” – The Pacers have iron will and they will challenge all opponents. No Victor Oladipo is a huge blow to their upside but they’ve managed to exceed expectations and they will not keel over defensively against any opponent.