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2018 NBA Playoff Bracket – Eastern Conference Predictions

2018 NBA Playoff Bracket – Eastern Conference Predictions

The 2018 NBA playoff bracket had to wait until the last buzzer in the last game of the regular season. But, now we can finally make some predictions of what’s to come.

NBA Playoffs 2018 – Eastern Conference Predictions

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(1) Raptors vs. (8) Wizards

How the Wizard crept into the playoffs after losing to the Magic the last night of the season is perplexing but anyway…

The Raptors haven’t impressed all too much in the last few weeks either (seemed somewhat content to rest on their laurels, maybe?).

But Toronto is the first round’s biggest favorite.

Will Toronto drown the Wizards in points? They do have a +7.2 regular-season point differential advantage over the Wizards.

On the other hand, Washington just got John Wall back, perhaps the best player in the series from both teams. Wall’s dished out 50 assists in the four games he’s played since returning from surgery and could blow up in the series.

The Raptors still need to dispel their own NBA playoff demons. They may have overhauled their entire offense and bench in the offseason, but it would be all for naught if they can’t win through the first round.

Prediction: It’s not going to be a piece of cake for Toronto. Don’t believe that for a second. The Raptors are going to win, but they’ll have upset on their minds looming in every single game.

(2) Celtics vs. (7) Bucks

The Celtics’ lucky charms seem to lose its luster in the worst moments.

First, it’s with Gordon Hayward, who didn’t even get a chance to start after Boston signed him this season because he broke his ankle.

Now, it’s Kyrie Irving whose playoff-ending injury practically hobbled the entire team.

The Bucks don’t have it that much easier either. Milwaukee now finds itself in the unenviable position of having a new coach hired right before their playoff run.

They, of course, fired Jason Kidd in case you didn’t know.

Yet, the Celtics don’t have anyone even close to bringing what Kyrie Irving has in skills. The Bucks have Giannis Antetokounmpo, now the biggest star in the series.

This isn’t to say the Celtics have lost their grit along with losing Irving. They’ve clawed their way to wins and despite its player’s injuries and could be the team heading into the next round.

Prediction: Both teams are on the up and up; but, I believe Boston has more grit which can make a big difference in this series. Antetokounmpo might be the shining player in the series, but the Celtics have more scrap to them.

(3) 76ers vs. (6) Heat

Not to knock on what’s otherwise impressive, but the Sixers 16-game winning streak didn’t include too many opponents that could put up a decent fight. In fact, of those 16 teams, only three are in the playoffs.

Philadelphia might find itself bogged down by a defensive Miami team, but it’s not likely that even if the Sixers won’t score as much as they usually do, they will score more than the Heat.

The Sixers will have to do without center Joel Embiid due to injury, but should still have enough firepower to score points. Of the 32 games played from mid-February to date, they’ve ranked fifth in offense.

Prediction: The Heat will look to slow the game down like molasses with a closed defense. But, Philadelphia should still be able to pull out the big offensive guns to win the game in the last two quarters.

(4) Cavs vs. (5) Pacers

If there’s one player expected to be in the Eastern Conference playoffs, it’s LeBron James.

It’s not without reason. King LeBron has reigned this conference in every postseason since 2011.

His reign is under more threat than ever this year, playing with a team put together rather haphazardly in February and with his free agency looming on the horizon.

James has only gotten stronger even as his teammates changed; it gives testament to his championship spirit.

Behind a title-hungry James, the Cavaliers are a different beast. One that swallows opponents whole.

However, the Cavs have to fix something which could undermine anything James can do, their defense.

Cleveland rounds in the bottom of defensive ratings and it could open an opportunity for the Pacers to win the series. If the Cavaliers cannot plug the defensive holes, it’s going to be a drawn-out fight till the end.

Prediction: The Cavaliers are going to suffer and James will have to fight even harder. The Pacers will push it and push James, but James will make it his way and won’t be slowed down much. 

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